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Child Friendly Leeds
Ofsted inspectors rated Leeds City Council ‘outstanding’ for the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families.
Services provided for children and families by the council in Leeds have been rated as ‘outstanding’ by government inspectors, Ofsted.

The tremendous achievement comes after a rigorous and thorough inspection into the services the council provides for children in need of help and protection, children in care and care leavers.

Ofsted inspectors rated Leeds City Council ‘outstanding’ for the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families; ‘outstanding’ for the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection; and ‘good’ for the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers. As a result, the overall judgement for services in Leeds is ‘outstanding’ – making it the only ‘core city’ in the country to be rated so highly (of those inspected under the new ILACs framework).’

As a city, Leeds is thriving and has seen significant growth in its population. This includes an increase in the number of children and young people needing support across the city – particularly in the most disadvantaged groups. However, despite the council having experienced cuts year on year to its government grants Leeds has managed to continue improving its services whilst being at the forefront of innovation within children’s social care, making this ‘outstanding’ result even more significant.

The city has been on an impressive journey of improvement. It was rated by Ofsted as ‘inadequate’ in 2010 and has worked hard on an eight-year improvement journey to transform its services to achieve the ‘outstanding’ result announced today. Ofsted recognises the leadership now has a clear and ambitious vision for what it wishes to achieve for the children of Leeds.

In the report, the council was commended for maintaining funding for children’s services, and for its clear focus on “meeting need at the earliest opportunity to enable children to realise their potential.”

Inspectors described the council as “a committed corporate parent that is ambitious for its children, encourages children to realise their potential and celebrates their achievements.”

They also noted the progress made in delivering the council’s ambition to make Leeds a truly child-friendly city.

The inspectors recognised that the council placed children “at the centre of work within the city,” and that “strong multi-agency strategic partnerships are promoting effective practice among their practitioners.”

The report highlights and commends Leeds’ role as a national ‘partner in practice’, sharing its learning and expertise with other local authorities. Leeds is proud that, a result of achieving positive outcomes through working restoratively with children and families, the city has been able to share its successes to help raise standards and improve practice within children’s social care nationwide.

In the report, inspectors highlighted the city’s commitment to continuous improvement, and Leeds’ training of staff was also highly praised – which follows Leeds’ recent success at the prestigious national Children and Young People Now Awards where the workforce development team was named the winner of the ‘Social Work Career Pathway’ award:

“There has been investment in the effective recruitment and development of staff, facilitating a more experienced and stable workforce which are very loyal to Leeds and highly motivated to provide the best service it can to children and families.”

The council was also commended for maintaining all its local children’s centres across the city to help ensure that families are offered support at the earliest opportunity – when needs are first identified.

Work regarding domestic abuse and the effect it has on children was also identified as a clear strength of the council, and inspectors wrote that these issues are “well understood” across the Leeds partnership.

Inspectors recognised that: “There are a long-standing commitment and ambition throughout the council to ensure that children are at the centre of work within the city. As a result, vulnerable children, including those with highly complex needs, have received a consistently good service, and significant demographic and funding challenges have been met.”

Inspectors also noted how Leeds “celebrates the achievements of children in care and care leavers and is suitably ambitious for their future. Children in care and care leavers are encouraged to achieve their potential and there is a clear commitment to improving educational outcomes.”

They wrote that “Children in care are listened to, they are seen alone, and their wishes and feelings are acted on by social workers who are consistent people in their lives and keen advocates for them.”

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Children and Families said:

“The ‘outstanding’ Ofsted judgement is an amazing and well-deserved result for Leeds. We work incredibly hard with partners across the city to improve the lives of all our children and young people and this result is a very important milestone in our ambition to ensure Leeds is the best city for children and young people to grow up in. We are, however, not complacent and we will continue doing all we can working with children and families to further improve our services.

“I am delighted that Leeds’ commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for children, young people and their families has been recognised – it really does reflect the great work being done across the council and partner organisations across the city who share our Child Friendly ambition. I am excited to see what we will achieve next as we strive to ensure that every child in Leeds has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

Steve Walker, director of children’s services said:

“Leeds is the second largest metropolitan council in the county with all the challenges this brings, which makes this ‘outstanding’ judgement all the more rewarding. Leeds is ambitious for all its children and young people and we are fully committed to making Leeds a child-friendly city.

“This result shows we are taking huge steps in the right direction to ensure this and I’d like to personally thank all the staff across the service who work really hard and put children and young people at the heart of everything they do. Everyone has a part to play in achieving this well-deserved result and I am so proud that together we are helping to improve the lives of children and young people across the city. We will continue to improve outcomes for children and become a truly child-friendly city.”

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said in a letter to the Director of Children and Families:

“You should all be proud of the positive difference you have made for the children and families of Leeds. You are indeed “Child Friendly Leeds”.

“The whole report was a pleasure to read but I think it is particularly noteworthy that substantial progress has been made in delivering this vision to make Leeds a child-friendly city. Children are placed at the centre of work within the city and strong multi-agency strategic partnerships are promoting effective practice among their practitioners.

“My colleagues at Ofsted and I are pleased to acknowledge your achievements to date, and I wish you all every success in the next stages of your journey.”

The full report can be found here: www.files.api.ofsted.gov.uk