Ofsted has noted ‘improved effectiveness’ and ‘a strengthened operational response’ from Slough Children’s Services Trust on the same day its CEO Nicola Clemo is awarded an OBE for services to children.
The findings, published today (2 December 2016), followed a monitoring visit on 2-3 November to the Trust, which is now delivering services for children in need of help, protection and care in Slough.
Ofsted inspectors found that Slough Children’s Services Trust (SCST) – formed in October 2015 to take over children’s services in Slough – had improved the outcome for vulnerable children and their families, although there was still much to do to move the service to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
In a joint letter to SCST’s Chief Executive Nicola Clemo and the Interim Director for Children’s Services for Slough Borough Council Jo Moxon, Ofsted inspectors wrote: ‘In its first year, the trust, under the determined leadership of its chief executive, has improved the effectiveness of contact and referral services and strengthened the operation response to child sexual exploitation.’
Inspectors also had praise for the council and the way in which it was working closely with the trust. ‘The council and the trust have agreed that safeguarding of vulnerable children is a firm priority and, together, they have stepped up the pace of improvement in these areas,’ wrote inspectors, adding that ‘there remains much work to be done to ensure that children are consistently helped and protected.’
During the two day visit, inspectors reviewed the progress made in the effectiveness of ‘first response’, when responding to concerns about children and the effectiveness of the newly-established MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub).
In addition, they looked at the early response to risk within families, particularly child protection enquiries and strategy discussions, as well as the effectiveness of operational arrangements to help children at risk of child sexual exploitation and those who go missing.
Inspectors examined case files, observations of staff and also attended key operational and improvement meetings.
‘We are delighted with the Ofsted findings and recognition of the hard work all SCST staff have put in to improve children’s services in Slough,’ said CEO Nicola Clemo. ‘We are pleased that Slough Borough Council has been praised too, as we’ve come a long way in establishing good and effective working relationships, as we share a joint responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of all children in Slough.
‘We will take all of Ofsted’s comments on board and, alongside the plans we already have in place to address all the areas of improvement from the last full Ofsted inspection, we will carry on with our plans to move children’s services from a starting position of inadequate to ‘outstanding‘ within five years.
‘We are quickly establishing ourselves as an innovative and exciting place to work, with high calibre staff who share our aims and ambitions. As a result of this latest report, we hope more social workers will decide that Slough is a great place to work. It is better for children, too, if the Trust has a permanent and stable workforce.’
Slough Borough Council’s Interim Director of Children, Learning and Skills, Jo Moxon, said: ‘the Ofsted findings confirm the determined and passionate leadership of the Trust which, in renewed partnership with the Council, is driving improvement in services for our most vulnerable children. Keeping children safe is our number one priority and we intend to build on this excellent start to move forward to achieve the best possible outcomes for children and young people.’
Nicola had an excellent excuse not to be at the joint trust and council press briefing today (2 December) as she was at Windsor Castle to receive her OBE, awarded for her contribution to children’s services while Service Director for Childrens Social Care for the whole of Cambridgeshire where she led the transformation of the service which received a ‘good’ Ofsted judgement in 2014.
The full letter can be found on the Ofsted website at: