Rotherham children’s services ‘good’ with outstanding features

Published Monday, 29th January 2018
Rotherham children's services 'good' with outstanding features
Rotherham children's services 'good' with outstanding features

Social services for children and families in Rotherham have been “transformed” in just under three years, Ofsted inspectors have said.

In one of the fastest turn arounds; Rotherham Council has been given an overall ‘good’ rating by Government appointed inspectors for its children’s services, leaping up two judgement levels in the first re-inspection since being rated as ‘inadequate’. This includes an ‘outstanding’ sub rating for the experience and progress of its care leavers.

The department was judged to be failing in most areas by Ofsted in 2014 in the wake of the Jay report, which revealed child sexual exploitation of up to 1,400 children in the town.

Following an intense four week re-inspection in November last year, Ofsted have today revealed the new rating. In their report inspectors said the local authority has made “significant improvement”, including protecting those children at risk of sexual exploitation.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I’m delighted to see the progress that has been made at Rotherham’s children’s social care, resulting in it being rated ‘good’ by Ofsted.

“For too long, children and young people in Rotherham were failed by the authorities in charge of protecting them, so it is especially pleasing that Ofsted has noted the strong partnership working now in place at the council.

“All those who have delivered such vast and rapid improvements in Rotherham should be rightly proud of their efforts. I look forward to them continuing to drive forward this work to make sure every child is kept safe from harm.”

The overall rating is ‘good’, with sub judgement ratings of ‘good’ for children in need of help and protection; ‘good’ for leadership, management and governance; ‘good’ for adoption performance and ‘outstanding’ for the experience and progress of care leavers. The Council was further praised for tenacious social work practice in tackling chronic neglect and innovative training and therapeutic support for adopters and their families.

Meanwhile children looked after and achieving permanence was given a ‘requires improvement’ sub rating and there are also eight recommendations set down by Ofsted. Work will continue to improve these areas as part of the next steps taken.

In the report, Ofsted inspectors said: “The local authority has taken a systematic and rigorous approach to improvement since the last Ofsted inspection in 2014 which identified widespread and serious failures for children in need of help and protection and children looked after. The quality and impact of services for children are transformed… The corporate response and associated change in the quality of children’s services has been impressive.”

Adding: “Children at risk of child sexual exploitation are identified, and receive an effective multi-agency response to protect them.” Ofsted in particular praised senior leaders and managers at the Council, who they said had “transformed” the service.

In the last three years there has been a full scale change of leadership across all areas of the Council, including children’s services, under the watch of Government appointed Commissioners.

Children’s Commissioner Patricia Bradwell said: “The Council and its partners have worked very hard to change outcomes for children, young people and families here in Rotherham and I am delighted that this hard work has been recognised in this way. Staff and their managers at Rotherham Council have been extremely committed to making the changes in order to provide good services to families.

“It’s been a privilege to work with councillors, officers and partners on this improvement journey.”

The report also says the culture at the Council is one of “openness and transparency and genuine dedication to improving the lives of children and young people,” adding staff talked to said they felt safe and wanted to work in Rotherham.

Cllr Gordon Watson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, said: “Three years ago we let the children of Rotherham down, and we are truly sorry for that. We pledged to use the 2014 Ofsted report to examine and improve culture and practice across the organisation and this new Ofsted report hopefully shows we have done just that.

“My thanks go to staff here at the Council and our partners who have helped us to achieve this rating. It would not have been possible without you.”

Council Leader Cllr Chris Read added: “Over the last three years we have made improving our children's services and better protecting our most vulnerable children our top priority.

“Today's report from Ofsted is recognition of the enormous progress that has been made, and is a credit to all our staff and partner organisations that have made it happen. The validation of our work to transform our response to child sexual exploitation underscores how far we have come. Going forward we will continue to learn, to improve, and to challenge ourselves to keep doing better for Rotherham's children."

Ofsted inspectors added “the pace of change was impressive” and that a change in culture across the local authority had created the right conditions for social work to flourish. They also praised a highly successful social worker recruitment campaign, which has seen the use of costly agency staff plummeting and even being short-listed for a prestigious employer of the year award.

Rotherham Council Chief Executive Sharon Kemp said: “This is great news for the children, young people and families in the borough.

“Our focus as a new senior leadership team at the Council has been improving outcomes for children and young people. It is very pleasing to see that this commitment by so many staff across the Council has made such a difference with our services significantly improved.

“It is important to recognise the many partners who have played a large role in our improvement and I thank them for their continued support and proactive engagement.

“We are committed to continuing to improve; and addressing the recommendations within the report will be our focus as we continue to support our children, young people and families.”

Ian Thomas, Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services added: “The last report talked about the importance of strong effective leadership and strong governance and to ensure that the standards against which we are measured be widely shared, understood and adhered to.

“We have made these changes and more right across children’s services, which is due to the grip and pace we have insisted upon, no matter how difficult this was at times.

“We will use the recommendations in the report to develop our new action plan as we are determined to build on this judgement and continue to improve. We owe this to the children here in Rotherham today. My thanks go out to all staff here at the Council, not just in children’s services, who have helped us face our challenges. Thanks also to the support we have had from Commissioners, elected members, peers and our partners.

“It is important that our children know that we will not be complacent and that, as we embed the ‘Rotherham Family Approach’ we will continue to ask ourselves, ‘would this be good enough for my child?’”

To read the Rotherham Council children’s services Ofsted report in full please visit:

Read the Ofsted report