Services provided to children and families by Leeds City Council staff and partners have once again been rated ‘outstanding’ by government inspectors Ofsted.
The rating comes following 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; ‘good’ for the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection; and ‘outstanding’ for the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers. The overall rating was therefore ‘outstanding’.
Leeds remains the only core city in the country to achieve the highest Ofsted rating. The council first received an ‘outstanding’ rating for its children’s services in 2018 and, despite challenges faced by children and their families throughout the pandemic, inspectors found services in Leeds have continued to be delivered to an ‘exceptionally high standard’.
Inspectors said that senior leaders and council members in Leeds are ‘unstinting in their efforts and ambitions for children to achieve their full potential’ and that they ‘harness highly effective partnership working and promote a culture across the city where children and young people are at its heart’.
The report states that in Leeds, ‘children benefit from consistently strong and creative social work delivered to an exceptionally high standard’. It also notes that ‘well considered and helpful’ personal education plans ensure children in care make the educational progress needed, and that ‘partnerships with schools have strengthened during the pandemic response’. The council was also commended for its ‘highly effective partnership working and promoting a culture across the city where children and young people are at its heart’.
Inspectors praised the council for its work to ensure children have a voice and influence over services. They commended the council’s ‘vocal, inclusive and influential’ groups for children in care and care leavers. Young people involved in these told Ofsted inspectors that ‘they feel valued, listened to and respected by senior leaders’. They said that they ‘genuinely feel that their role makes a difference’.
Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult and children’s social care and health partnerships said:
“This rating reflects the hard work and commitment of everyone involved in children’s services in Leeds. We are over the moon to retain our ‘outstanding’ Ofsted judgement, it is fantastic that the hard work of our dedicated staff is recognised to have made many things even better since the judgement was first awarded in 2018.
“The service has been turned around since it was rated inadequate in 2010. However, we know that we can’t afford to be complacent. The true impact of the pandemic and the rising cost of living is still unknown and pre-existing inequalities have been amplified, but we remain determined to meet that challenge.
“In Leeds, we are passionate about continually improving outcomes. We are committed to providing high support alongside high challenge by ensuring families have the tools they need to overcome challenges. Crucial to this, is our enduring commitment to investment in prevention and early help – a cornerstone of our Child Friendly Leeds ambition which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary this year.
“We have maintained this priority since national austerity began 11 years ago and it has played a huge part in us safely and appropriately reducing the need for children to enter care – and ensuring the best possible outcomes for all of our children and young people.
“The exceptional pressures of the pandemic on top of the longer-term impact of unprecedented financial challenges, make the achievements of our children’s services here in Leeds even more remarkable, and they would not have been possible without the commitment of our passionate staff. I’d like to thank them for their tremendous work providing the highest quality service possible to safeguard our vulnerable children and families.”
Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, economy, culture and education said:
“I’d like to thank everyone across the city who has played a part in ensuring our services remain outstanding, including schools and other education settings. We are committed to learning and continually improving the services we offer to ensure the best outcomes for our children and young people, including those being home educated or missing education.”
Saleem Tariq, Leeds City Council’s Director of Children and Families said:
“Our commitment and dedication to improving the lives of our children and young people has never faltered, and this rating is a testament to that. The contribution from the whole council, our partners and the whole city is heartening and a great platform for the next stage of our development.
“I’d like to thank our fantastic staff who have worked incredibly hard to ensure our services remain outstanding. We know we continue to face challenges with increased pressures on our services, which is why we’re committed to growing and nurturing our amazing team here in Leeds.”
Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care said:
“This outcome is a magnificent achievement and reflects the continued determination of the leadership team, managers and frontline staff, as well as the wider council and safeguarding partners, who have made a positive difference for the children and families of Leeds.”
The full Ofsted report can be viewed here: www.ofsted.gov.uk More detail about opportunities working with Leeds City Council’s children’s services can be found here: Children’s social worker jobs www.leeds.gov.uk