Children's services in Suffolk rated outstanding by education watchdog
PUBLISHED: 11:13 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:34 21 May 2019
Children's social care services in Suffolk have been awarded an 'outstanding' rating from Ofsted following an inspection.
Services for children in the county are "of an execptionally high standard", according to inspectors from the education watchdog.
Two out three categories - the impact of social work practice with children and families and the experience and progress of children who need help and protection - were given outstanding grades.
The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers was graded as good by inspectors to give the department an overall outstanding rating.
The result means Suffolk is one of only seven in the whole country to achieve the top rating.
Suffolk County Council's children's social care services is different from its special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision, which received a damning report in March.
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Inspectors, who reviewed the county's children's social care services from April 8 to April 12, said "stable and aspirational leadership and strong political and financial support" had created conditions for "continued improvement" and development of "high-quality" services.
Suffolk's children's services were previously rated as good following an inspection in 2015.
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The report said: "Services for children are of an exceptionally high standard. They are child-focused and make a positive difference to children's lives.
Workers build positive and purposeful working relationships with children and their families. They ensure that children are safeguarded, and that their wider needs are addressed.
"They consistently act to ensure the best outcomes for children."
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Inspectors were also impressed by the way the county council had developed "effective workarounds" to the troubles of the region's mental health trust.
"Senior leaders have shown considerable creativity and imagination in developing effective workarounds to the problems that Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are experiencing," the report added.
"The impact of therapeutic and other support available to children whose emotional well-being and mental health have suffered as a result of trauma experienced earlier in their lives is impressive."
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children's services, education and skills said he was "delighted" with the rating.
"We've been on a journey, but without the dedicated work of our staff, the work with our partners, the work with carers, we would not have achieved it.
"There is still work to do and with regard to SEND that is one area. That's why I've invested a further £45million in provision and working together we will achieve the goal we all want to be one of the best, if not the best, authority in the country."
Strategic planning and performance management in regard to care leavers was the only issue highlighted which needs to be improved, according to inspectors.