The Isle of Wight Council’s children’s services has been rated good by Ofsted with the authority praised for its leadership, child protection work and innovative social work practice.
All aspects of the service were judged to be good, putting the Isle of Wight in the top 25 percent of equivalent councils across the country – a significant turnaround from 2013 when it was rated inadequate by the watchdog.
Inspectors, who visited for three weeks in November, found “children in need of help and protection receive a good service” and multi-disciplinary teams were a strength adding “value, capacity and expertise” in supporting families and children.
Ofsted said the partnership with Hampshire County Council since 2013 had “brought stable and consistent leadership, increased resilience and a firm focus on continual improvement”.
It also discovered “highly skilled, ambitious senior leaders have a clear, shared vision and an accurate understanding of the strengths and areas for improvement of the service”.
Steve Crocker, director of children’s services, said: “The successful partnership between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight is the way forward for authorities in the 21st century as we strive to improve services.
“I am delighted our work together has led to this ‘good’ rating for children’s services on the Isle of Wight and I congratulate everyone involved and thank them for their unstinting hard work over the last six years.”
Innovative working practices such as using personal assistants to help social workers free up more time to work with children and families was praised by inspectors, as was the council’s work around child protection, children in care, care leavers, adoption services and contact with foster carers.
Ofsted recognised the unique challenges of the Island and concluded leaders responded well to them.
“Children’s lived experience is at the centre of social work practice on the Island,” the report said.
Kathy Marriott, children’s services head of strategy and operations, said: “Everyone who has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the services for children, families and young adults on the Island are thrilled with this report.
“The dedication and passion of everyone from social workers and support staff, right through to foster carers, has been tremendous and I thank them for their hard work.
“Considering the challenges we faced just a few years ago, this is absolutely brilliant. There is more we can do to improve and we will, but right now everyone is delighted Island children are cared for and protected by great teams.”
Councillor Paul Brading, Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This is absolutely brilliant news for the Island and a massive vote of confidence in the services the council delivers.
“I would like to personally thank our staff on the frontline who have delivered day in and day out to make this service good, to protect and care for our Island children and young people when they are in need and to do so compassionately, professionally and sensitively.
“Managers and staff should be rightfully proud of what they have achieved.”
Find a copy of the report at https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/80419