Our Children’s Services are ‘Outstanding’

Published Thursday, 16th May 2024

It is a proud day for Hartlepool Borough Council with the official announcement that its Children’s Services have been rated ‘Outstanding’ overall by the Government’s inspectorate.

Ofsted – which carried out a rigorous inspection in March – said: “Inspectors saw consistently good practice across all parts of the service with exceptionally strong management oversight and a leadership team with an unwavering commitment to children and the workforce.

It said that since its last inspection in 2018 – when the services were rated ‘Good’ – “senior leaders have not only sustained the good practice and leadership seen at the last inspection, they have been relentless in driving further progress and improvements.

“This is in the context of continuing to provide an effective service to children and families throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and a significant increase in complexity of need and demand on services.”

The inspectors noted many examples of positive practice with families, with key strengths including consistent responses about the most vulnerable children in the borough and compassionate work with children and families throughout all service areas.

Among the inspectors’ findings were:

  • There is a very strong and effective focus on providing help early to children and their families.
  • Child protection enquiries are thorough, with effective actions taken to help reduce harm to children.
  • Social work assessments of children’s needs are exceptionally thorough and child-centred.
  • The voice of children is valued and threaded through the service.
  • Young people leaving care are very well supported by committed staff … There is a palpable culture across children’s social care and among council leaders and members that care leavers are ‘their’ children.

The inspectors added: “Children come into care when they need to, and they are thriving.

“This means that the overwhelming majority of children who need help, protection or care in Hartlepool receive an outstanding service that helps to improve their lives.”

The Children's Services team celebrate their Ofsted 'Outstanding' rating

The Children's Services team celebrate their Ofsted 'Outstanding' rating

In a letter to Sally Robinson, the Council’s Executive Director of Children’s and Joint Commissioning Services, Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director Regulation and Social Care, said: “This is a significant achievement.

“This outcome is testament to your hard work and tenacity, as well as that of the leadership team, managers and frontline staff, the wider Council and your safeguarding partners.”

Sally Robinson said: “We want every child and young person in Hartlepool to enjoy their best possible life in a safe, protective, loving and encouraging environment and everything we do – and every member of our team – is dedicated to that goal.

“As the inspectors noted, the voice of children is threaded throughout our service, and we are delighted to have earned this highest rating.”

Denise McGuckin, the Council’s Managing Director, added: “I would like to congratulate Sally and every member of her Children’s Services team on this fantastic achievement.

“We are tremendously proud of all that they do for the children and young people of Hartlepool – they are a very great credit to the Council and the town.”

The full report can be viewed here: 50247208 (ofsted.gov.uk)