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‘Good’ Ofsted grading for our specialist support services for children and young people

Published: 15 January 2024

Ofsted inspectors have given us a ‘good’ grading across the board for our services for children in care or at risk of harm, families who need social work support and young people leaving care.

Inspectors visited the council between 30 October 2023 and 10 November 2023 to meet senior children’s services leaders, speak to staff and review the impact of services to help and protect children and their families.

They reviewed services across children’s social care, leaving care and fostering as well as educational services designed to support looked after children and care-experienced young people.

During their visit they found:

  • the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection: Good
  • the experiences and progress of children in care: Good
  • the experiences and progress of young people leaving care: Good
  • the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families: Good
  • overall effectiveness: Good

Ofsted said since their last inspection, including a more focused visit in 2021 and again in 2022, the issues inspectors identified as requiring improvement have ‘much improved’ and ‘strong progress’ has been made.

Inspectors also found our senior leadership ‘recognise and prioritise’ the needs of children and have a ‘clear understanding and grip’ of the challenges they face in improving the lives of the most vulnerable children.

Meanwhile, our political leaders were found to be supportive of children’s services work despite the financial challenges the authority is currently facing.

Our Cabinet Member for Children and Families Councillor Julie Patten said:

“Looking after our most vulnerable, in need and at-risk children and young people is our most important job and also our most challenging.

“I’m very pleased to see that our efforts to improve and strengthen our services have been recognised by Ofsted in their recent inspection.

“It’s clear from their report we haven’t just focussed on the areas highlighted in previous inspections but have worked hard with self-challenge and continual monitoring to strengthen practice and make improvements across the board which are reflected in our good grading.

“We’re constantly striving to ensure we give children in Derbyshire the best possible start in life and support families and young people who most need our help and despite whatever challenges lie ahead we will continue to do so.”

Areas of ‘strength’ highlighted by Ofsted in its report – regraded from areas of ‘improvement’ in their previous inspection – include:

  • children across Derbyshire benefit from local services delivered by skilled staff and the impact of individual and group work for most children and parents is positive
  • the council works well with its partnership organisations to share relevant information about children resulting in swift action
  • children in need and on child protection plans are seen regularly by skilled social workers who know them well
  • children in need and those on child protection plans are seen regularly and are listened to with their views being used to help make decisions about their care
  • social workers and managers act quickly where there is significant concern or risks to children increase
  • most children in care live in loving homes which meet their needs well and enjoy positive relationships with their social workers who see them regularly and have a good understanding of their needs
  • careful consideration is given to children’s family time with their birth families and careful planning ensures most children who return home do so successfully
  • considerable efforts are made to try to match children with the right homes and near their home area where possible and many children make good progress in foster care
  • services for young people who experience care are highly effective following the council’s decision to bring the service back in house
  • children in care are allocated a leaving care worker when they become 16 to ensure a smooth transition to adulthood

Areas highlighted by Ofsted around our senior leadership include:

  • senior leaders know themselves and their services well and services continued to be reviewed and realigned quickly in response to changes in demand
  • the appointment of an experienced children’s services executive director in 2021 has brought a positive shift in the quality and impact of joint working between the council and its key strategic partnership agencies
  • senior leaders have commissioned services to respond to the increasing need and demand for mental health services for children and young people
  • social workers are ‘very positive’ about working for Derbyshire and feel respected and valued by leaders who are effective in supporting and training a large intake of newly-qualified staff

View our Ofsted report.