BRENT Council’s Children’s Services has received its best-ever rating from Ofsted following a recent inspection.
The ILACS (Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services) report published today by Ofsted – the education, children's services and skills inspectorate - has moved Brent’s rating to ‘Good’ from requires improvement in 2015 with outstanding for the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers.
In the report, Ofsted praised the “strong leadership at a political level and throughout the council (which) has resulted in significant improvements in the quality of social work practice for children since the last inspection.”
Inspectors duly recognised the complex set of challenges that Brent faces in dealing with people of many differing backgrounds, nationalities, cultures and religions, in a borough where over 150 languages are spoken.
The report notes how the council takes “great care to consider cultural sensitivity when undertaking assessments. They take into account the potential influence of religious beliefs and practices on parenting behaviour.”
Inspectors also found evidence of effective and sensitive work around forced marriages, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, tackling gangs and, although numbers are low, found that Brent had robust processes in place to protect children and young people at risk of radicalisation.
The report notes how “Communication with children and young people is a particular strength. It is at the heart of child and family social work. Inspectors are impressed by the skills, sensitivity and creativity of social workers and other practitioners.”
Ofsted also noted how “Children benefit from the very high proportion of schools in Brent that have been judged to be good or outstanding…A high proportion of children and young people come into care with significant gaps in their learning and attendance, many with complex needs and substantial barriers to overcome. Despite this, they are making better progress in care than they were previously.”
There was praise for the council in its role as a ‘corporate parent’ to those in care. “Corporate parenting is a real strength for the local authority. There is a strong focus on achieving positive outcomes for children in care and care leavers.”
Since the inspection, the council has already made progress in addressing the four areas identified for improvement in today’s report of better case recording, alignment of procedures, escalating cases where children’s circumstances don’t improve and the council’s response when children go missing from home and care.
Cllr Mili Patel, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care, said:
“As a council we are one hundred per cent committed to ensuring that every young person in Brent has the best start in life possible, and this report, together with Brent’s highest-ever Ofsted rating, is testament to what we have achieved in recent years.
“We have already started addressing the areas identified by for improvement and I am wholly confident that further progress will continue to be made in the coming months.
“My thanks go to everyone in our children’s services department, as without their great effort, professionalism, passion and dedication to their work and the young people of Brent, we wouldn’t have reached this milestone.”