Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Children and Families Service has been rated ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ features by Ofsted – making it one of the top performing councils in the country.
ChildrenThe judgement published today (Friday, 19 February 2016) follows an unannounced, rigorous examination carried out by a team of inspectors over four weeks in November and December 2015.
The inspection, which looked at how well the Council cares for its most vulnerable children and young people, concluded that the authority is ‘outstanding’ for leadership, management and governance, and ‘outstanding’ for adoption performance.
The authority was also judged to be ‘good’ overall, ‘good’ for children who need help and protection, ‘good’ for care looked after children and ‘good’ for the experiences of children leaving care.
The results make Cheshire West and Chester one of the strongest performing councils in the country, with only a small number of others achieving similar ratings.
The Council is one of only three in the North West to be judged ‘good’ overall, with only one other council achieving two ‘outstanding’ judgements from Ofsted.
No authority in the country has been judged ‘outstanding’ overall since the new Ofsted inspection framework started in November 2013.
Ofsted also rated the Local Children’s Safeguarding Board as ‘good’, underlining the robust support networks for children and young people in place in West Cheshire.
Councillor Nicole Meardon, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of this inspection, which was judged against demanding new criteria which Ofsted describes as a harder test.
“These judgements are a testimony to the hard work and dedication of our staff, who have worked tirelessly over the last five years to improve standards while keeping children and families at the heart of everything we do.
“But we are not complacent. We will continue to strive to be the lead council in the country for children’s services and we will use the Ofsted recommendations to develop a plan to be outstanding in every area.”
Ofsted have four levels of ranking for local authority children’s services under its new framework – outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.
The Council was last inspected in 2012 when its ‘adequate’ rating was reinstated after safeguarding concerns led to the downgrading of the whole service to ‘inadequate’ in 2010.
Following the 2012 re-inspection – which followed a ‘top to tail’ review of all services for children and families – Ofsted commented that it was one of the quickest turnarounds in child protection performance it had known.
Councillor Margaret Parker, Opposition Spokesperson for Children and Families, said: “These results demonstrate that all our staff – from front-line workers to senior managers – consistently work to high standards to ensure that our children get the best start in life.
“All staff who work with children and families have shown enormous dedication during a lengthy and demanding journey of improvement, and can be rightly proud of this fantastic achievement.
“Ofsted’s judgements also recognise the strength of the partnership working with the Police, health, voluntary and faith sectors, the Children in Care Council, and our shared commitment to striving for the best possible outcomes for all our children.”