Where we are now, and where we want to be
Where we are now
We have ‘good ‘childrens and young people’s services and have an ambition to have services that ensure outstanding outcomes for children and young people in Rotherham. This means first and foremost that children are kept safe from harm and are supported to be cared for within their family wherever possible.
Children’s Social Care colleagues have continued to offer high levels of support throughout the pandemic, working closely with Council staff and multiagency professionals to ensure we appropriately identify where children need help and where children are at risk of harm. We have taken the learning from the specialist child sexual exploitation service Evolve and invested in additional resource to address the growing challenges of child criminal exploitation and do all we can to prevent this. This will enable a strong multiagency response to the risks of Child Exploitation.
The Early Help offer has continued to provide support to families through parenting support programmes, our children’s centre offer, youth offer and working with our looked after children council and young inspectors amongst other activities.
Throughout the pandemic our Early Help workers continued to use innovative and imaginative methods to engage and support our children and families including the Holiday activities programme. We have also expanded the Youth Offer to provide ‘Places to go and things to do’ for young people in Rotherham.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted education and routes into the job market for children and young people, so the Council has worked closely with partners to mitigate the impacts locally. Most of Rotherham’s secondary and special schools held either a summer school or an extended programme over the summer of 2021, as part of efforts to help pupils catch up after Covid disruptions. Ongoing direct support has been provided to early years, school, and further education leaders to support the continuing challenges of the pandemic including enhanced school leaders’ forums, education recovery work focused on disadvantaged students and an Early Years project to increase take up of available early years places to support long term educational outcomes. The Council has offered 89 ‘Kickstart’ job opportunities for young people, paying all placements at the Real Living Wage.
Children and young people have told us that having fun things to do is important to them and this is shaping our approach to regeneration. We have secured a cinema operator to open at Forge Island, the Gulliver’s Valley theme resort has opened its doors and building on successful events in recent years, North Star Science School with Professor Brian Cox now happens annually. We have also committed to work with children and young people to deliver the first Children’s Capital of Culture, preparing for a year-long festival in 2025 to celebrate our young people.
Where we want to be
We want Rotherham to be a great place to grow up, where children and young people have the best chance to reach their full potential. This will mean that children grow up happily, safe, in good health and develop the skills and qualifications they need to be successful. This is not only important for our children and young people, but for the future of our borough. Evidence shows that experiences in childhood have a major influence on outcomes across an individual’s life. By supporting children and young people to have the best possible start in life and to develop, flourish and thrive we can prevent future challenges and address inequalities.
We want to continue to support our children, young people, and their families to wherever possible remain safely together. We want to work with our partners to ensure a shared approach to offer help and support at the earliest stage, and to prevent harm.
We want to support looked after children to be closer to home, as we recognise that this improves their lifelong links to immediate, wider family and friends and we can work through local agencies to get the best support in a timelier way. Local Placement sufficiency continues to be a key area of focus.
We want to build on existing strengths that are found within the wider family network and ensure that community solutions are fully explored and utilised, to sustain long-term positive wellbeing for children and families in Rotherham. We want to develop the notion of the ‘Family Hub’ and have a strong ambition to ensure that the hubs are multi-faceted and have an interface with all aspects of the community as well as the public and voluntary sector. We want to improve the Youth Offending Team (YOT) Inspection judgement from Requires Improvement to Good. We also want to improve the outcomes for children, young people and adults with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. We want to continue engaging in dialogue with our children, families, schools, and communities to consistently provide the right support at the right time. We want to refresh our Early Help Strategy in 2022.
We know that working with children and young people, listening to what matters most to them and acting on what they tell us, is vital to achieving positive outcomes. We want children and young people to be engaged in our service delivery across the whole Council, so that they are actively involved in decisions that affect them. Young People will take part in engaging and enriching and accredited activities that will feel safe, prevent isolation and this Youth Offer will be published on a regular basis.
We want all children and young people to have the strongest educational opportunity post the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond, and in working in partnership with the education sector in Rotherham, we can support a strong recovery from the pandemic and enhance opportunity for the long term. Collective projects like the 2022 Year of Reading across all areas of education, focus on work to improve early years’ education, and take up in targeted areas of the borough. This collaboration with our secondary education phase to continue to develop a collective drive to improve education outcomes across Maths and English, has a direct impact on shaping the opportunities for our children and young people in the borough.
In addition the Council has secured £19.9 million through the Levelling Up Fund for the leisure economy and skills and from this we will provide £1m for the creation of a new Skills Village at Gulliver’s Resort which will provide training, development and accreditation within the hospitality and leisure sector. A further £4.5 million will be invested in the redevelopment of the former Maltby Grammar School bridging the gap between school and employment to create an incubator space for training, apprenticeships and start up support in the leisure and hospitality sectors. These significant investments will directly contribute every child fulfilling their potential.