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Kingston Council’s Children’s Services improve from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’

Kingston Council’s Children’s Services have made significant improvement moving from ‘Inadequate’ to ‘Good’ in a recent Ofsted inspection.

Following the inspection, which took place over the summer, Ofsted concluded that enough progress had been made to take the unusual step of moving the service up two grades in the four-point grading system.

The inspection result means that Kingston is now one of only 16 children’s services departments to have been rated as ‘Good’, against 46 rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’, since Ofsted brought in a new inspection framework in 2013.

The Council and its partner ‘Achieving for Children’ (AFC) will now focus on moving the service onto the highest grade of ‘Outstanding’ over the coming years.

Councillor Kevin Davis, Leader of Kingston Council, said:

“On every benchmark that Ofsted measure children’s services against, we have moved to a ‘Good’ score. This is a remarkable achievement considering that only two years ago our services were judged to be ‘Inadequate’.

“Swift action, hard work and great professionalism by all of those involved in the protection, care, support, adoption and education of vulnerable children and young people has meant that we can hold our heads up high once again.

“The remarkable improvements in the very challenging area of supporting children in care is especially pleasing to see. In particular I must pay tribute to the Leadership of Nick Whitfield, the Chief Executive of AfC, and Councillor Andrea Craig, the Lead Member for Children and Young People, on whose watch these improvements were made.”

Nick Whitfield, Chief Executive of AfC and Director of Children’s Services for Kingston Council, said:

“I am delighted that Ofsted have recognised the progress that we have made. Keeping children safe is our most important responsibility and AfC have worked incredibly hard in Kingston to ensure that we were able to create a sustainable improvement in the quality of the services that we offer to families.

“For us, it is always a partnership approach and we have been incredibly well supported through our partnerships with schools, all those in health, the police and other agencies that work our children and young people.

“The hard work however does not stop here. Our clear goal is to consistently deliver an outstanding service for our young people and to have that service recognised as such by Ofsted.”

Bruce McDonald, Chief Executive of Kingston Council, said:

“In July 2012, Ofsted told us that our Children’s Services were ‘Inadequate’. This was a totally unacceptable position for us to be in. We took swift action in appointing Nick Whitfield as the borough’s Director of Children's Service (shared with Richmond) and went on to work with Nick in setting up Achieving for Children (AfC), a community interest company wholly owned by Kingston and Richmond Councils. Since April 2014 AfC, under Nick’s leadership, have been running children's service on our behalf.

“I was clear in 2012 that we would work tirelessly to bring our children's service back to a standard that local people rightly expect. That commitment has now been achieved and we have delivered what we said we would do. It is very gratifying that we have now been judged by Ofsted as ‘Good’. This has been achieved through the hard work, dedication and inspirational leadership of people working across AfC together with the Council.”

Councillor Andrea Craig, Lead Member for Children and Young People at the time the Ofsted inspection was carried out, added:

“I want to pay huge tribute to all the staff at AfC without whom this transformation would not have been possible. Of course there is more to be done; much more. I know we are now all committed to setting our sights on achieving an ‘Outstanding’ rating over the next two years.

“In these austere times, where we have to spend our money carefully, we must focus our resources on the most vulnerable members of our community. Children and young people at risk come at the top of that list.”

Some of the highlights of Ofsted’s report including the findings that:

  • services to children and their families have been transformed since the last inspection
  • senior managers have improved support for children and young people in the areas judged as weak when the borough was last inspected
  • children receive a good service from diligent and skilled social workers
  • a strong and committed senior management and leadership team are delivering against a demanding agenda
  • when children and families need help and support they are provided with effective services quickly
  • if children and young people can only be supported and protected by being taken into care, AfC makes the right decisions at the right time
  • children and young people who are cared for by the Council usually go to good schools and make good progress with their education
  • the local authority effectively oversees the work of AfC through robust commissioning and contract management
  • young people who are leaving care are supported well and have a good choice of accommodation that meets their different needs
A full copy of the Ofsted report can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk or www.achievingforchildren.org.uk.