Council's Commitment to Journey of Improvement

Posted by: Press Team on 10 May 2023 09:00

South Tyneside Council has promised to drive-up standards for children in their care following its latest Ofsted report.

Children's services have been rated "Inadequate" by Ofsted, with inspectors saying there has been a decline in the quality of services since its last full inspection in 2017.

However, Inspectors recognised that the Council has been quick to take decisive action and has already made significant changes to ensure it can develop services for children and young people of the highest possible standard.

Steps have been taken to address the main concerns noted by Ofsted around the deterioration of strategic oversight, poor record-keeping of management decisions and significant numbers of children being placed in unregistered children's homes.

Scrutiny of management has already been tightened and families can be assured that decision-making is now robust. Work is ongoing to improve management recording and supervision and the report states that at the conclusion of the inspection, improving management practice was found within children's services.

South Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall

Additional placements in registered children's homes have been found and plans are already in place for two new children's homes and an assessment centre in the Borough.

An Improvement Board with partners has been established and a plan, to be agreed with Ofsted, has been drawn to address the areas of concern.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader of South Tyneside Council said: "Naturally, we are disappointed with the rating but understand and accept where we have fallen short.

"We accept that there are areas that need improved practice, and we are absolutely determined to raise the bar and deliver children's services of the highest possible standard in South Tyneside.

"We are passionate about children in South Tyneside; we have a history of supporting our children in care and have robust package of support in place for care leavers.

"The council is absolutely committed to driving up standards for children and young people in our care, our partners have made that same commitment."

Jonathan Tew, South Tyneside Council's Chief Executive said "We have acted immediately to put in place measures to implement rapid improvement for our children and families. This has been endorsed by our partners on the Improvement Board and noted by Ofsted. We are as confident as we can be that that we are doing everything government would expect us to do.

"Colleagues across children's services have shown phenomenal resilience despite the daily challenges and pressures teams face. We have a wonderful team of passionate and committed staff who are on board with us on through our journey of improvement."

Ofsted has made seven recommendations for improvement, all of which have seen significant progress to date. At the conclusion of the inspection, improving management practice was found.

Jill Colbert, Chair of the South Tyneside Children's Improvement Board said: "The council took immediate action to address concerns raised by Ofsted. Partners from across the borough have come together swiftly to form the Improvement Board and we are resolute in our shared ambitions to drive up standards, improve practices and ensure system wide improvements."

Despite the overall rating, inspectors noted improvements in some areas since the 2017 inspection, such as improved response to children who are missing or at risk of exploitation, improvements to the quality of children's plans, children's participation, and the quality of supervision in the leaving care team.

Ofsted highlighted a wide range of positive activity within Children's services. Mockingbird constellations are noted as a service strength, with children and foster carers benefiting from the nurture and support that the programme brings.

Service users spoke positively about South Tyneside Children's Services. Some children take part in a range of participation activities and contribute to the development of services through groups such as Making a Great Important Change (MAGIC) and the Care Leavers Council.

Inspectors also acknowledged the generous local offer provided to care leavers in South Tyneside which young people know how to access. Care leavers also benefit from long-standing relationships with their Personal Advisers who know them extremely well and can offer support on a range of issues from employment to mental health.

They also found that most disabled children receive effective support and planning, which means they live with carefully selected and committed carers while those needing additional, or specialist support are quickly identified and supported.

In line with their standard polices and procedures, Ofsted will review and sign off the Council's improvement plan within the next two months and will then commence a schedule of quarterly monitoring visits to track progress.


Last modified: 09 April 2024 09:03