Children and their families are seeing improvements in all areas of support from Middlesbrough Council, Ofsted inspectors have found.
The Council has seen its rating upgraded to ‘requires improvement to be good’ in a report published today.
Ofsted’s inspection in March was its first full review of the Council’s Children’s Services since the department received an inadequate judgement in January 2020.
The new report identifies the progress made, while also acknowledging there is still work to do.
Ofsted inspectors considered children and young people’s experiences of the help, protection and care given to them. The report also assesses what the Council’s leadership is doing to improve these services.
The report makes clear that the department’s leaders are aware what needs to be strengthened and that there are plans in place to develop services further.
Interim Executive Director of Children’s Services Sue Myers said: “We are pleased that inspectors have recognised the progress and improvements we have made.
“Services for children have improved across all service areas and credit for that should go to all of our staff.
“Their commitment and hard work has made such a positive difference for children, young people and their families.
“Meaningful and sustainable change takes time and we know that we still have work to do. We are ambitious to have a rating of ‘good’ overall, and I am confident that this staff team can achieve this.
“We are proud of the work we have done so far and are ready for the challenges ahead.”
Ofsted found that most children and young people in the town were receiving a “timely and effective response when needs or risk are first identified”. Inspectors did set out that “instability” in the workforce of the department did mean not all children received a consistently good service.
Children are now being brought into care when it is in their best interests, the report states. Interventions are judged to be “more timely and appropriate”.
Ofsted found that services for care leavers have improved, but that this area hadn’t been sufficiently prioritised.
The Council’s approach to recruiting and retaining social workers was referenced by the report, with “initial improvements” noted. This issue is vital to ensure children can benefit from a stable, permanent workforce.
Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke thanked Ofsted for its ongoing work with the Council and praised staff for their commitment.
He said: “This new report from Ofsted shows that things are going in the right direction. We have to look to the future with determination and confidence because children simply have to be at the heart of everything we do as a Council.
“While the latest inspection found our department is improving in every area, it also sets out that we must continue to improve.
“Clearly there is still a great deal of work for us to do and both myself and the Executive member will work closely with our committed team to make sure the essential improvements are made.”
Cllr Zafar Uddin, Executive member for Children’s Services, said: “Our staff have been heavily scrutinised since the last full Ofsted inspection and their dedication and professionalism is clear to see.
“This report is a step forward but there is so much still to do. We will support our staff and offer the appropriate challenge to help secure the changes we need to make.”