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Focus on consistency of care after latest Ofsted findings

Children’s Services leaders in Middlesbrough remain determined to deliver consistent levels of care following the latest feedback from Ofsted.

In its sixth monitoring visit since January 2020, Ofsted assessed two areas in detail: older children leaving care and care leavers. As in the previous monitoring visits, inspectors found improvements had been made.

Ofsted found most older children preparing to leave care were supported to develop the skills they needed to live alone.

Most care leavers told inspectors they had experienced a positive transition and had been well supported by social workers and personal advisers.

For some children, however, the transition planning had not been effective as it should have been.

The visit in early November found that children and young people are well supported in preparing for the world of work.

Social workers and personal advisers promote education and employment opportunities, including apprenticeships and funding for further education and university, inspectors found.

The report, published on Tuesday, states that “sophisticated performance reporting” contributes to leaders at the Council being “clear about what more is required at pace to secure further improvements for older children in care and care leavers”.

The Council is aware that the quality of service needs to be more consistent, inspectors found. Changes in social workers and personal advisers can affect relationships, the report states. The Council also acknowledges that care leavers in custody do not always receive a good enough service.

Director of Children’s Care Rachel Farnham said: “It’s vital that we support children in every stage of their development. The period when children approach leaving care and then start to live independently is hugely important.

“This latest monitoring visit underlines for us where improvements have been made and the areas we need to focus on.

“The Ofsted findings make clear that as a service we are fully aware of how we can strengthen our offer. Everyone working in the service is determined to act on feedback and prove every single day that Middlesbrough children matter.”

Cllr Mieka Smiles, Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Children’s Services, said: “I’d like to thank Ofsted for their most recent findings. As a Council we fully appreciate that it is only by acting on feedback and by working closely with Ofsted and the Department for Education that we will make the necessary improvements.

“Our aim is simply to provide children all around Middlesbrough with the support and services they deserve.

“Our staff are doing brilliant work and have made progress in very challenging circumstances.”