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Children at the centre of culture and practice in "Outstanding" judgement

Kent County Council children’s services rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in latest inspection.

07/07/22

Children at the centre of culture and practice in "Outstanding" judgement

Kent County Council’s (KCC) children’s services have been judged to be ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted following an inspection in May.

The inspectorate’s report, which was published earlier this week, gave the South East council the highest possible rating in three of the four categories (impact of leadership, experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers, and overall effectiveness) and ‘Good’ in the fourth (experiences of children who need help and protection), with the overall effectiveness in providing children’s services as ‘Outstanding’.

The judgement, which puts the council’s children’s services among the top-performing in the country, said that children are “at the centre of KCC’s culture and practice, where they are supported and cared for by an experienced and skilled workforce who listen and respond to their views and feelings.”

Inspectors found that when families need help with the care of their children, or if there are concerns about the safety of a child, they get a swift response and good help and support from children’s social care services. They also commended staff on the way they worked with family members and friends to help them support children and young people to stay with their own families.

“Today’s report highlights how children are at the centre of KCC’s culture and practice,” Ofsted’s National Director for Regulation and Social Care, Yvette Stanley, said, adding: “I was particularly pleased to read that more children are benefiting from KCC’s services, which are of a consistently good standard, resulting in positive outcomes for both them and their families.”

Workers from the early help and social work teams were praised for the time they spend in getting to know the children and young people they work with and for trying to understand the difficulties they and their parents are facing to come up with a good plan to support them.

Ofsted praised the “outstanding practice” for children in care and young people leaving care, who “clearly benefit from the support they receive and make good progress”.

It recognised that Kent children’s services have faced considerable additional pressures brought by the pandemic, rising caseloads and needing to care for and protect the “unparalleled numbers” of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in the county. The report states that “senior leaders and frontline staff have responded well to these exceptional circumstances” and praised KCC for continuing to improve children’s services during the pandemic.

Ofsted also reported that all staff they spoke to were “rightly proud of the work they do and proud of the progress they make with children and families to improve their situations”, and “love working for Kent”.

Ofsted praised KCC’s political leadership for their commitment to championing and protecting children, which is backed by “sound financial investment”. They commented that “the director of children’s services and his senior management team, the lead member for children’s services and the head of paid service keep themselves well appraised of key challenges and service issues, exercising appropriate oversight and scrutiny.”

They went on to say that the council “promotes corporate problem-solving and shared responsibility for its services”.

“This judgement is a significant achievement and testament to the hard work and tenacity of KCC’s leadership team, managers and frontline staff, the wider council and safeguarding partners,” Yvette Stanley continued.

Sarah Hammond, Interim Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education, welcomed the judgement saying she was proud of what children’s services in Kent have achieved.

“[The judgement] reflects the positive difference our staff make every day to the lives of children, young people and their families, as well as their dedication and commitment to providing the best possible standard of service.”

“This is a fantastic result, but our work does not stop here. We will continue to make further improvements to our services and professional practice so that we continue to deliver outstanding services for our children, young people and their families.”

The Ofsted report also found that senior leaders took effective action in the areas identified at the last inspection in 2017, with progress “evident in all the areas identified for improvement”. The report also stated that senior leaders “have also taken the required steps to make improvements in the areas identified at the focused visit in 2019, strengthening the responses to children at the ‘front door’ of their services and ensuring children are quickly directed to the most appropriate services”.

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