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Kingston Council’s Children’s Services rated outstanding by Ofsted

Kingston councillors outside the Guildhall holding an Ofsted Outstanding banner

Kingston Council’s Children’s Services has gone from ‘inadequate’ to ‘outstanding’ in six years following a recent inspection by Ofsted in October 2019.

Inspectors commented on the significant improvements that Achieving for Children (AfC), the council’s children's service provider, has made since the last inspection in 2015 when they received a 'good' rating.   

The four day inspection took place between 21 and 25 October during which inspectors visited various services including Early help, Referral and Assessment, Child Protection, Children Looked After and Youth Resilience. 

Under the new framework, services are rated against four key areas: AfC scored outstanding for their overall effectiveness, impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families as well as the experiences and progress of children in care. A ‘good’ rating was given for the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection.

Some of the highlights of Ofsted’s report published on 19 December are:

  • Senior managers and elected members determination to provide the best possible services, based on a comprehensive understanding of the needs of children and families in the borough.

  • Relationships with partner agencies are strong, with good engagement in improving services for children and young people locally.

  • A strong performance management culture, with an equally strong focus on practice and learning.

  • Staff are highly skilled, well-motivated and taking great pride in their work and  are well supported by their managers.

  • Children in need of help and protection receive timely and well-targeted support with multi-agency work well-established and contributing to reducing risks. 

  • Services for children in care and care leavers are impressive.

  • Children and young people are given every opportunity to flourish and inform service development.

Cllr Diane White, Kingston Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children's Services including Education, said: 

“This is a wonderful achievement. We have made huge strides in improving services for children and young people in Kingston. The ‘outstanding’ rating shows our continued commitment and the hard work from our partners and staff across all the services we provide from safeguarding, adoption and youth services to education, special educational needs support.

“A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to this success, especially at a time when were are facing significant financial challenges. In the last few years we have had to really focus our resources on the most vulnerable members of our community and children and young people at risk are our priority.”

“The hard work does not stop here. We need to continue to build on what we have achieved and continue to strive to improve what we do for our children and young people.”

There were two main areas for improvement following the inspection. These were the need to regularly review child in need plans with input from key professionals and the range of services offered for post-16 pathways into employment.

Ian Dodds, Managing Director of Achieving for Children, said:

"I’m delighted we have achieved the highest possible rating from Ofsted for our children's services in Kingston.  The determination, hard work and ambition to improve - from our skilled and thoughtful practitioners right through to our senior leaders and partners - has led to this result. 

"For Ofsted to recognise the progress we have made and the excellence of our services for the most vulnerable children and young people in our borough makes me extremely pleased and incredibly proud.”

A full copy of the Ofsted report can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk or on the council’s website www.achievingforchildren.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Achieving for Children (AfC), a community interest company, was established jointly in 2014 by Kingston and Richmond Councils `to provide their children’s services. In August 2017, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead became a co-owner of the company, which now delivers children's services across all three boroughs.

Kingston Council agreed to recommission its children’s services to Achieving for Children until 2026 at its Children's and Adults' Care and Education Committee on 10 December. After considering various options, members of the committee agreed the preferred option was to extend the current contract for another five years, through a joint arrangement with Richmond Council. Richmond Council’s Education and Children's Committee agreed the recommission on 17 December 2019. 

Achieving for Children have also been selected as one of eight Partners in Practice.

As a group, Partners in Practice will work alongside the DfE to shape the future of children’s services, implementing new and innovative service delivery models that promote excellent social work practice.

Achieving for Children was one of the first children’s services to launch an Ofsted-rated childminding service, as well as being a consistently high performing borough for uptake of 2-year-old early education entitlement. Leap Ahead Childminder Agency

Achieving for Children is the parent company for an Independent Fostering Agency owned by the three councils. It was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted following a recent inspection in September 2019. The report highlighted the outcomes achieved for children and young people, stating that the ‘service provides high-quality foster care placements. The outcomes for children and young people are very positive. They develop secure attachments with their foster families and have a very strong sense of belonging.’ Ofsted report.