South Tyneside Council went through three simultaneous external inspection and reviews this Autumn; Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Challenge, Care Quality Commission (CQC) Thematic Review of Mental Health Services for Children and Young People, and Oftsed Inspection of Children's Services.
South Tyneside was recognised as a 'High Performing Council' by the LGA and the CQC commended the 'outstanding mental health support' for children and young people.
Following an intensive four-week inspection of Children's Services and the Local Safeguarding Children Board, Inspectors reported that the services provided to families and young people are rated as "Good", with the Council's Adoption service acknowledged as "Outstanding".
This recognition is a reflection of the Council's long-term vision to make South Tyneside an outstanding place to live, invest and bring up families.
Investment in changing and modernising services since 2010 is now achieving far reaching impact. This excellent result puts South Tyneside Council in the top 25 councils of 161 across the country to have been rated good or better in all categories judged by Ofsted.
Protecting vulnerable children and ensuring the Borough's children and young people are given the 'Best Start in Life' is one of the most important responsibilities of the Council.
Key highlights from the inspection include:
- Adoption services are outstanding. Children with a plan for adoption are identified early, prepared well to live with their adoptive families and benefit from permanence without delay. Adopted children and their families benefit from high-quality life story work which builds sensitive accounts of children's lives which support and guide adopters in how to use them to best effect with their children.
- Managers and social workers try their hardest to make sure that services are the best they can be. Sometimes, extra help is needed to make sure that this happens quickly. Social workers, police, health professionals and schools work together well so that children can get the right help at the right time.
- The pace of change has been impressive. There have been significant improvements to services for children who have disabilities.
- Despite funding reductions, Elected Members have protected children's social care budgets and made decisions to invest in services, backed by new technology to support the right conditions for social work to flourish.
- Senior leaders and managers build and retain strong and trusting relationships with partners and are committed to working together to deliver improved services for children and young people. The lead member has a clear overview and understanding of frontline practice.
- South Tyneside Safeguarding Children Board meets its statutory requirements effectively. Strong governance, with priorities clearly aligned to key areas for safeguarding children, has ensured that the board is increasingly influential in improving the quality of services to children.
- The Council and partners have improved the response to children at risk of exploitation and children who go missing and are delivering "highly effective services".
- Services for care leavers are good. Young people live in safe and supportive housing and are well supported. The vast majority of care leavers aged 16-18 are well supported to continue their education and training or to enter the world of work. However, more support needs to be offered to those aged 19 - 21 who are not in employment, education or training.
- Effective safeguarding is provided through the new Integrated Safeguarding Interventions Team.
- The voices of looked-after children are being increasingly heard through the Children in Care Council which is starting to have a positive impact on shaping services.
- Leaders and managers are ambitious and tenacious in their pursuit to deliver outstanding services.
By placing children at the heart of its activities, the Council is transforming the opportunities and life chances of some of the Borough's most vulnerable young people.
To read the report in full, visit https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/south-tyneside