Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission have rated Wigan’s safeguarding and looked after children services as Good following their inspection earlier this year, with three major areas ranked as Outstanding.
A team of Her Majesty’s Inspectors spent two weeks with Wigan Council and its partners in May. Officers were subject to detailed scrutiny of practices, procedures and performance relating to how children and young people are properly safeguarded, and to determine the quality of services provided for looked after children and care leavers.
The effectiveness of the safeguarding services provided by the council and its partners was described as Good, with inspectors recognising the value of strong support, leadership and direction from senior councillors who ‘demonstrate a keen interest and knowledge in the work of the department’.
In particular, inspectors praised the way in which “health staff at all levels demonstrate a clear understanding of their safeguarding and child protection responsibilities, including how to identify risks and make referrals.”
Inspectors also recognised how health staff actively involve children, young people and their carers in care planning, service delivery and communication, and acknowledged the borough’s “robust teenage pregnancy strategy” for achieving a significant reduction in the under-18 conception rate, which fell by 22% between 1998 and 2010.
Inspectors were equally impressed by the level of partnership working in Wigan Borough. As well as commenting that “The Children’s Trust is an active and mature partnership and builds on longstanding relationships”, Inspectors also cited as an example of partnership success the achievements of the police and the council’s youth offending services in reducing the number of first time entrants to the youth justice service.
The report, published on Tuesday 10th July, also features reference to the establishment of the joint safeguarding and commissioning unit between health and the council, which had resulted in “greater efficiencies and better use of resources.”
When assessing outcomes for looked after children and care leavers, Inspectors judged the health outcomes Outstanding, commenting that, “The proportion of children with up to date annual health assessments and plans, dental checks and immunisations are above those of similar areas and the national average," with 94% of assessments and plans of "sufficient quality" in place.
The report referenced “effective leadership”, “better communication” and improved “information sharing” as reasons for the Outstanding outcomes. Inspectors also recognised that the effective screening of young people for substance misuse had contributed to a lower than national average of looked after children with a substance misuse problem. Whilst when considering the ‘good’ sexual health support both in and outside of educational institutions, Inspectors in particular applauded Brook sexual health providers for its “exceptional outreach service and fast tracking to other services”.
Councillor Susan Loudon, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, says:
“This report is testament to the dedication and commitment of people who work in a range of children’s services across the borough. However, there is no room for complacency. We will continue to strive for excellence to achieve outstanding ratings for our safeguarding service because we all want to deliver the best possible outcomes for Wigan Borough’s children and young people.”
Nick Hudson, Wigan Council, Corporate Director (People), adds:
“We are delighted at the results of the joint Ofsted and CQC report. Crucially, Inspectors recognised that where immediate child protection concerns are identified, children receive a timely response which ensures the most vulnerable are protected.
"We are especially pleased that children and young people surveyed and interviewed by inspectors say they felt safe and know how to keep themselves safe, and that the inspectors recognised the proactive way in which services involve children, young people, parents and carers in developing services in the borough through consultation and participation.
“Recommendations made by Ofsted within the report provide a good opportunity to continue to improve the service, and will be taken forward by the council and its partners.
The report into the safeguarding of children who are looked after by the local authority followed a 2-week inspection in May carried out under the Children Act 2004. As part of the assessment, inspectors interviewed 69 children and young people who receive services, as well as font line staff, managers, senior officers, elected members, community representatives and the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, Sue Woolmore.
Ms Woolmore says:
"Wigan's Safeguarding Children Board is particularly pleased that the inspectors have judged the partnership working in the borough to be Outstanding. The Board relies on this strong sense of collaboration and co-operation to make sure that we’re all pulling together to do our very best to keep children and young people safe. There's always more to do, but this inspection tells us that we're on the right track and going in the right direction."
Dr Tim Dalton, Chair of Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, adds:
“We are pleased that this report recognises the positive actions, taken by so many organisations across the health and social care sector, to put the needs of children and young people at the heart of their actions. It shows, whilst there is no room for complacency, how all sectors can work together with children and young people, to give them foundations from which to make the most of opportunities to lead a healthy and successful life.”
Inspectors also reviewed more than a hundred case files for children and young people with a range of need, assessing the quality of reporting, recording and decision-making undertaken.
Of the remaining service categories, inspectors described 16 as Good, exceeding minimum requirements; and ranked 3 as Adequate, judging them to meet minimum requirements.