In November 2017 Ofsted inspected children's services in South Tyneside.
See the 'Summary for children and young people' section below to read what they thought was good and what they said we need to do better.
What is Ofsted?
Ofsted is the 'Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills'. They inspect services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
What is an OFSTED inspection?
This is when a group of Ofsted inspectors visit a local authority to look at what they do and how well they work to keep children and families safe. At South Tyneside, Ofsted inspectors spent 4 weeks talking to social workers and managers, as well as children, parent and carers. They also looked at plans, files and reports to understand how well things are working in South Tyneside.
How were children and young people involved?
During their inspection, some of the Ofsted inspectors met with MAGIC (South Tyneside's Children in Care Council) to find out how well children are listened to and involved in what social services do. Inspectors also sat in on a 'Question & Answer' session with young people and senior managers, and met a group of care leavers to find out about their experiences.
Summary for children and young people
Services for children in South Tyneside are good. This is because 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 children are safe. When this happens, everyone works closely together 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.
Social workers listen carefully to what children tell them and understand what they need to do to help. This includes providing extra support for parents and carers. Children and young people told us that they have good relationships with their social workers. The social workers write good assessments about what needs to change.
If children have to leave their families, social workers make sure that they live with people that will care for them and help them to be healthy and do well at school. Social workers need to be clearer with foster carers about what decisions they can make without having to ask parents. When it is safe for children to go back home, they are helped to do so with lots of support to make it work.
Children and young people have the right to speak to someone called an advocate who is independent of their social worker, and to have access to an independent visitor if they would like one. If there are concerns about the quality of services, then young people and their families need to know that they can make a complaint. The local authority needs to do more work to make sure that children can have their say.
For children who are unable to go home, social workers help to find another family or another place for them to live. Social workers try very hard to make sure that they can find the best family for them to live with.
Young people who leave care still have the support of an adviser who will continue to help them when they need it, and to ensure that they live in safe accommodation. PAs develop excellent relationships with young people. They work extremely hard to make sure that care leavers feel safe and happy and are supported in college or work. Care leavers aged 19 to 21 need more help to get into work, training or college. Although most of their health needs are met quickly, some young people wait too long to see health specialists to support them with their emotional well-being. PAs and social workers make sure that they keep in regular contact. They help care leavers work on skills that they need to live on their own, such as managing money and cooking.
Care leavers told inspectors about a very small number of things that they would like to see improved. For example, two care leavers said that they would like more help to understand their childhood and to see their files more quickly when they ask for them.
The best start in life
We're working to give the children of South Tyneside the best start in life.
Find out about our wide range of services for children and families. We want to build safer and stronger families, provide increased opportunities for enterprise learning and skills within healthier communities.