Vital children’s social care services rated Good by Ofsted

  • Central Bedfordshire Council has been rated Good for the social care services it provides to children and families, following an inspection in January.

In a report published today (04/03/22), Ofsted has credited the Council for demonstrating strengths and improvements across its full range of children’s social work practice.

The inspection focused on vital services aimed at children, young people and families, including the experiences of children who need help and protection, and the progress of those who are in care, or who have left care.

In the report, inspectors highlighted the child-centred approach demonstrated by the Council’s staff and referenced the Council’s focus on ensuring the best possible outcomes for its most vulnerable young people. It acknowledges that children are involved in decisions about their care, and the Council is credited for its effective partnership working with other organisations to enable children and families to benefit from intensive early help and support. The Council is also credited for its comprehensive offer for care leavers, who are supported with their accommodation, leisure, work and training, and health needs.

Inspectors also acknowledge how staff have a good understanding of how the pandemic has impacted young people, and have adapted well, addressing the mental health needs of young people as a result of COVID-19.

While the Council has maintained the same overall rating, inspectors have acknowledged the significant improvements in specific areas.

Cllr Sue Clark, Executive Member for Families, Education & Children, said, “I am delighted to receive such positive feedback about some of the Council’s most vital services. Ensuring that children are safe and that families have access to the right support as early as possible is an absolute priority for us.

“Sometimes children do need our care and protection, and when that happens we have great social work services who pay great attention to providing an environment where they are cared for and can thrive. I was also delighted that our good work supporting our care experienced young people to successfully become independent adults was also reflected in the Ofsted report.

“In addition to highlighting areas where we have maintained or improved good practice, the inspectors have provided valuable feedback on how we can develop our services further and we welcome this guidance. We will take on board the findings from the report and will continue to strengthen these important services.”

The report follows recent ‘Good’ Ofsted ratings secured by the Council’s children’s homes – with Number 32 receiving the rating in January, and Maythorn and Kingfishers in July last year.

In a meeting on Tuesday this week, Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, some councillors had difficulty commenting on how well the CBC service was being received without knowledge of what the Ofsted report contained. 

On social media one person commented, “The report that CBC wrote on SEND complaints was a disgrace - it was all smoke and mirrors. It hid a huge amount of information concerning complaints that were 'not accepted' by CBC (read: couldn't be [#####] to investigate them OR knew they would be forced to uphold them and be liable to compensate the family and find the child a specialist school place that doesn't exist). My SEND complaint was NOT ACCEPTED by CBC and was subsequently upheld by the Ombudsman!!!!!!!!!!!!”

A second wrote, “My SEND complaint was not accepted by CBC! I took it to the ombudsman and it was upheld last year.”

A third wrote, “I do not believe the SEND team learn from any of the complaints that get upheld, as I have had repeated problems with copy and paste replies upholding complaints. The process of teams investigating their own actions too is biased, and should be stopped. There is a lack of trust with teams covering up their own behaviour.”

The following areas were assessed by Ofsted:
  • impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families - Good
  • the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection - Good
  • the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers - Good
  • overall effectiveness of our services - Good
The report is available here.