Leeds council children's services one of the best in the country, says Ofsted

Leeds City Council's children's services have been rated as "outstanding" in a new Ofsted report.

By Richard Beecham
Monday, 9th May 2022, 10:35 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2022, 10:37 am

The regulator said the department, which looks after vulnerable children, was "consistently strong and creative" social work, and that the city put "children and young people at its heart".

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However, it did have some criticisms, stating that "for a small number of children", there had been "a lack of timely decision-making" in the child protection process, but added inspectors were confident this was being addressed.

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Leeds City Council received the rating this morning.

The report follows an "outstanding" rating at the last full report back in 2018, but concerns had been raised in a focused visit last year which warned the council was sometimes slow to make decisions on the future of young people.

The council remains the only large city in the UK with an "outstanding" rating for its children's services.

Ofsted's report, published this morning, stated: "Since the last inspection of Leeds City Council in 2018, services for children have remained outstanding in their overall effectiveness.

"Children benefit from consistently strong and creative social work delivered to an exceptionally high standard. Senior leaders and council members are unstinting in their efforts and ambitions for children to achieve their full potential.

"They harness highly effective partnership working and promote a culture across the city where children and young people are at its heart. As one of the largest cities in the UK, Leeds has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic."

It added that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic saw a rise in the numbers of families living in poverty, and that this caused a "substantial increase" in the number of children referred to children’s social care, which has driven up social worker caseloads.

The report stated: "For a small number of children in need of help and protection, there has been a lack of timely decision-making at key points in the child protection process. This means there has been a delay in children being considered at multi-agency meetings to consider risks and timely protective actions. Leaders are aware of this and have taken action to ensure that there are no longer delays for children awaiting child protection conferences.

"Despite these pressures, Leeds has maintained a relentless focus on prioritising services and support to children and families. The restorative and relational practice model has been further embedded into practice."

Leeds City council's executive member for social care Coun Fiona Venner said: “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."

“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."

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.”