Ofsted’s second monitoring visit to Slough Children’s Services Trust has found both the trust and Slough Borough Council are making significant progress in improving the outcomes for care leavers in Slough.
Inspectors recognised that the Trust (established in October 2015) had started from a ‘very low base’ but noted a marked and positive shift in leaders’ shared commitment in improving the outcomes for care leavers.
The report, published today (30/3/17) on the Ofsted website* says ‘the council and the trust have taken determined steps to raise the ambition for care leavers’. In particular, Slough Borough Council, which had children’s social care removed by the Secretary of State for Education in 2015, was praised for its creative work, particularly in meeting care leavers accommodation and housing needs.
Over their 2-day visit, inspectors found ‘pockets of strong support to care leavers that is making a demonstrable difference to their lives’ including determined steps by both the trust and council to embrace their role as joint corporate parents.
‘I am delighted with the findings,’ said the trust’s CEO Nicola Clemo. ‘It’s testament to the hard work we’ve all put in to address the findings in the last full Ofsted inspection in relation to care leavers and, not only are we able to offer care leavers a better service, it’s a clear indication of the vastly improved working relationship we now have with the council.’
Roger Parkin, interim Chief Executive of Slough Borough Council, agreed. ‘The progress made since last summer is starting to make a huge difference to care leavers’ lives and we take our responsibility as their joint Corporate Parents, with the trust, very seriously,’ he said. ‘We will continue to work together with the trust to implement the further improvements identified in the report and to actively listen to care leavers’ view about how to provide an improved service for them.’
In the report, inspectors pay particular attention to the review panel, initially set up by senior managers after the last full inspection to look at past support provided to individual care leavers, to ensure young people were safe and being appropriately cared for while the new service was being developed.
‘The panel continues to be used well to agree packages of support. Some care leavers were found to have experienced very poor care and, for these young people, the service continues to support them beyond statutory requirements,’ says the report.
Care leavers told inspectors they are now well engaged with their assessments and plans, their forum has a ‘strong voice’ and they ‘consistently’ said they felt listened to.
The report identified a number of gaps – for example the need to improve the reliability of performance information, the lack of formal contractual arrangements with providers, the need to strengthen partnership relationships for individual care leavers in health and adult services and that some protocols and practice developments were very new and needed time to embed before there was real evidence of impact on the outcomes for care leavers.