Cambridgeshire recognised for turning performance around

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Cambridgeshire County Council has been recognised in a national report for its performance in turning its child protection services around.

The authority was highlighted in Ofsted’s annual report on social care, which was published last week.

It received praise after inspectors rated its child safeguarding procedures as ‘good’ last August – just two years after a similar inspection judged them as ‘inadequate’.

It was the first time a local authority in the country had ever leapt up two categories to the second highest possible grade.

In the annual report, Ofsted said: “Two of the local authorities we have inspected over the last year, Essex and Cambridgeshire, who had previously been judged inadequate, have now been judged to be good overall.

“These local authorities have demonstrated good leadership, a commitment to provide specialist early help for families and a strong focus on good practice. Their leaders have prioritised recruitment and cultivated an improved social work environment and there is effective scrutiny of casework decisions.”

The report draws on the findings of inspections of social care services, including local authority children’s services, children’s homes, fostering services, adoption support agencies, secure training centres, and residential family centres.

Of 43 inspections carried out in the past 12 months by Ofsted, seven authorities were found to be inadequate, with a further 26 requiring improvement.

In those authorities judged to be good, including Cambridgeshire, inspectors found:

• Strong leaders and managers have a relentless focus on outcomes for children

• Social workers work directly with children and families at an early stage to prevent the need for further intervention

• Managers and social workers have a discernible ‘grip’ on cases at all times

• Managers have strong oversight of caseloads, vacancies, and a high quality of training and supervision

Councillor Joan Whitehead, chair of Cambridgeshire’s Children and Young People’s Committee, said she was delighted the authority was recognised in the report.

She added: “It reinforces the huge amount of hard work done by elected members, managers and frontline staff in turning round our safeguarding procedures in such a short time from ‘inadequate’ to ‘good’.

“We were right to keep our faith in the current leadership of children’s services and that faith has been vindicated – both in the original re-inspection and in this annual report.

“The key point was that inspectors found social workers felt safe, secure and valued. That is important to them and important to us – the contribution made by frontline staff is vital.”