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Children’s services statutory direction revoked after ‘Outstanding’ judgement

The now revoked direction from the Department for Education had ordered Sunderland City Council to work with advisors and officials to oversee its improvement.

10/12/21

Children’s services statutory direction revoked after ‘Outstanding’ judgement

A statutory direction to children’s services in Sunderland has been revoked after its ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgement this year.

Together for Children, which has delivered children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council since April 2017, received the inspectorate’s lowest grade of ‘Inadequate’ in 2018, following a previous ‘Inadequate’ judgement for the council in 2015.

The direction had required the council to engage with Together for Children Sunderland and other partners to improve services and co-operate with the Secretary of State and the Department for Education’s advisers and officials.

However, after an Ofsted visit this year, social workers in the city were praised by inspectors for their ‘tenacity’ and persistence in developing powerful relationships with children in their care and for putting their voices at the heart of services.

The swift improvements have been attributed to an “unstinting commitment” from the trust to tackle entrenched failure, and the “significant cultural change” staff have driven.

The turnaround made Sunderland the first area to jump straight from failing in its children’s services to the highest rating in just one inspection cycle. The national first made Sunderland one of only 18 local authorities in England and one of only four local authorities in the North of England to be rated Outstanding by the regulator of children’s services.

Writing to Sunderland City Council’s Leader, Graeme Miller, Children’s Minister Will Quince said he was very pleased to receive the positive Ofsted report.

“This latest judgement is a credit to the tenacious efforts to improve services for children and families in Sunderland since Ofsted’s last inspection in 2017. The leap from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Outstanding’ is unprecedented, and I congratulate staff at all levels of the Company and the Council, and their partners, who have contributed to this outcome.”

“I recognise the significant challenges faced by local authorities in delivering high quality children’s social care services over the past eighteen months in particular. These services are so important to vulnerable children, so it is essential that they are really effective and delivered to a high standard.”

“As a result of the improvement, the Statutory Direction issued to Sunderland City Council in April 2017 is now lifted and the Council is no longer subject to statutory intervention. Your continued engagement through the usual course of business with my officials will enable me to remain assured of the sustainability of the improvements delivered.”

Read the full Ofsted judgement from earlier this year: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/394

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