Ofsted rating welcomed as clear sign of significant progress
Published 5th July 2022
Ofsted has today (Tuesday 5 July) published its findings following an inspection of Children’s Services in Sandwell.
Inspectors examined the experience and progress of children in need of support and protection, children in the care of the Trust, as well as young people leaving care.
The inspection was carried out in May and concluded that services ‘require improvement to be good’. This represents significant progress as Children’s Services in Sandwell have been rated inadequate by Ofsted for more than a decade.
Since April 2018, children’s social care has been delivered by the Sandwell Children’s Trust on behalf of the council. Inspectors found that “services are improving and there are no longer widespread and serious weaknesses in Sandwell”.
They praised improved governance and effective relationships between the council and Trust, noting that the new Chief Executive at the Trust had worked effectively with senior leaders to set a clear strategic pathway which has already changed the culture and begun to improve services for vulnerable children and families.
Inspectors found that “many of children’s needs are well met by social workers who collaborate effectively with partners in other services”. They found evidence of good practice to support children at risk of exploitation and who go missing, and also praised the positive impact of work to address the increase in home schooling as a result of the pandemic, supporting children back into school where appropriate.
The report highlights areas for further improvement, particularly around supporting children out of neglectful situations quicker, and planning the transition into care more effectively.
Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, Leader of the Council, said: “We are focussed on giving children and young people the best possible start in life, so I am pleased this inspection shows that we have turned a corner.
“A number of recent national reviews have highlighted the challenges facing children’s services across the country, so it is hugely positive that this inspection shows we have taken a clear sign of significant progress.”
The Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, Chair of Sandwell Children’s Trust, said: “This is a really big step for us in Sandwell Children’s Trust and we are now in a much better position with a stable management team who have rightly received praise throughout this report. Most importantly, we have much more stability for the majority of the children we are helping. The report recognises the pace of change has increased and affirms our own assessment of what further improvements to the service we need to deliver.
“We will not shy away from the hard work still ahead of us and will concentrate on supporting children in Sandwell to enable them to thrive and achieve the best outcomes.”
Councillor Simon Hackett, Cabinet Member for Children and Education, said: “Keeping children safe and supporting them to thrive and flourish is not just the job of one organisation, and can only be achieved by working together.
“We now have clear plans in place that mean we can help families when issues first arise and although we are only still part way through our improvement journey, we are delivering a much better service to children and young people in Sandwell.
“I want to thank our hard-working staff at the council and our partners, particularly Sandwell Children’s Trust for their dedication to supporting children and young people in Sandwell.”
This inspection was carried out under Ofsted’s current ‘inspection of local authority children’s services’ framework. In Sandwell, children’s social care has been provided by Sandwell Children’s Trust since 2018. The inspectors also considered other services provided directly by Sandwell Council and other partners, such as education and health services.
Find out more about the report at the Ofsted website (the text takes you to a web link).