North Yorkshire CC has become the first council to be rated ‘outstanding’ in all children’s social care categories under Ofsted’s new inspection framework.
A report, published today, praised “outstanding practice in all teams”, effective information-sharing between partner agencies and an “ambitious and forward-thinking leadership team”.
The inspection last month was under the new inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) framework, which was introduced in April. The aim of that was to establish a more “proportionate” approach to reduce the burden of inspections with councils previously rated ‘good’ - such as North Yorkshire - or ‘outstanding’ receiving shorter assessments.
Ofsted described North Yorkshire as “a learning organisation” that has established several innovative and effective projects, such as the extension of Operation Compass - which is used to notify schools of domestic abuse - to nurseries and child minders.
Children who are not known but linked to suspected perpetrators or victims of child sexual exploitation are also referred to a dedicated group, which provides additional safeguards.
Inspectors identified ”clear oversight” by managers throughout the council of progress on children’s plans, ensuring families are not “subject to services unnecessarily”, with group supervision leading to “enriched interventions and increased confidence and resilience in practitioners”.
The report said: “At the heart of the North Yorkshire approach is a belief that stable relationships with workers who know their children and families extremely well is the key to creating and sustaining positive change.
“This was seen to be highly effective in a number of cases seen by inspectors. Children are at the centre of this and their experiences are clearly influencing the plans that are developed. Purposeful, sensitive and imaginative direct work is completed in order to gather the wishes and feelings of children and young people and understand their needs.”
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi said North Yorkshire’s children’s social care team “should feel immensely proud of the outstanding care, support and services they provide for some of the most vulnerable children in the area”.
In a letter to the council’s director of children and young people Stuart Carlton, Ofsted’s national director for social care Yvette Stanley said the inspection findings were a “magnificent achievement”.
She added: “This outcome is…an important milestone not just for North Yorkshire, but for the social care and wider children’s services sector, too.
“Your ‘outstanding’ inspection outcome reflects the hard work and tenacity of yourself, your leadership team, managers and frontline staff, as well as the wider council and your safeguarding partners.
“I know that this outcome will not diminish your ambition for or culture of embracing improvement in services and outcomes for children and, extend my very best wishes for the next phases of your continuous improvement journey.”