Outstanding leadership across the county’s children’s services is just one of the reasons why Ofsted has rated Essex County Council (ECC) as ‘good’ for the second time in three years, after the authority helped pilot the regulator’s new social care inspection framework in July.
ECC volunteered to test the new approach and has been integral to the development of the new, simplified framework which is aimed at ensuring a consistent and bigger focus is placed on the real difference authorities make to the experience and progress of children in care and their families.
Although consistency is key, the framework remains flexible and does not take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, but rather acknowledges the different responsibilities and accountabilities of each type of service.
The pilot was conducted as though it was a real inspection over the course of a week and the result has now been shared, although no formal report will be produced. The council was last officially rated as ‘good’ in January 2014.
Councillor Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “I’m so proud we’ve been able to support Ofsted with shaping and testing their new framework and pleased they’ve once again recognised the high quality social work practice we employ to support children and families across Essex.
“Taking a simpler approach to inspections will mean greater emphasis can be placed on what really matters – the children, young people and families that need our help the most.
“The result of the pilot is undoubtedly down to the unwavering support and dedication of our children and families’ colleagues, headed up by a strong leadership team, as well as our desire to achieve positive outcomes for all the young people we support.
"I’m looking forward to continuing this work going forward and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved.”
Feedback provided following the inspection praised the efforts of children’s social care colleagues in building positive relationship with the children they work with.
They also recognised their purposeful direct work with children and families and how they use a range of innovative tools and the views of families to help inform their plans.
Ofsted are continuing to pilot their new framework with other Local Authorities across the country before finalising and publishing their new inspection framework later this year.