Children’s services in South Tyneside have been rated as good overall, with adoption performance being praised as outstanding by Ofsted.
The senior leadership team has systematically and comprehensively addressed shortfalls identified in the joint targeted area inspection (JTAI) in February 2016, and outcomes for children in need of help and protection and children looked after are improving and are now good.
“The chief executive is resolute in his ambition to provide outstanding services for children in South Tyneside and has recruited a senior leadership team that shares his ambition. The director of children’s services, who took up post in 2016, has taken a systematic approach to improving services for children,” said the report.
- Staff development and support have been prioritised effectively.
- Morale is good.
- The workforce is stable, motivated and child-focused.
- Social workers have access to a comprehensive range of flexible and responsive training and development.
Inspectors noted that management challenge is not consistently robust, and although social workers receive regular supervision this is overly focused on compliance rather than addressing areas where the quality of practice could be improved.
While some services have rapidly improved, there are missed opportunities to use intelligence effectively in relation to return home interviews and the multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC). While appropriate action is taken to safeguard children, information shared is not consistently translated into planning for individual children or always used to inform the broader strategic response.
Children become looked after when they need to be. Services to care leavers are good and recent improvements to the service have ensured that personal advisers have time to concentrate on and support care leavers well.
Ofsted praised adoption services as outstanding. Children are benefiting from permanence plans at the earliest opportunity, the service matches and supports children and families effectively. Life-story work is creative and beautifully presented for each child, helping them to understand their life journey.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “This report is a reflection of the professionalism and commitment of our staff and partners and I pay tribute to their dedication. We continue to invest in and reshape services in South Tyneside to improve outcomes for those children and young people who need our help."
“By placing children at the heart of everything we do and re-shaping our services, the Council is managing to positively transform the life chances of some of our most vulnerable young people.
“In light of the challenging financial constraints in which councils now have to operate, this is a remarkable achievement,” she added.