Services for care leavers in Swindon are improving, according to Ofsted.
Inspectors carried out a two-day focused visit of Swindon Borough Council’s Children’s Services department at the beginning of last month and found that progress had been made since its last inspection.
“Changes to the organisation’s structure, the stabilisation of the senior leadership team and improved partnership working are starting to create the conditions in which good practice can flourish”, Ofsted described in its letter to the local authority published today (1 March).
The letter highlighted a number of areas where the Council is providing good support to care leavers, especially with regard to the range of education, employment and training (EET) opportunities.
Inspectors noted that frontline staff “work creatively and with determination to engage young people in meaningful activities” and that this is resulting in an above average number of young people (60 per cent) accessing those EET opportunities. Ofsted recognised that senior managers had set the bar even higher and are aiming for 75 per cent of care leavers to be in education, employment and training by 2022.
The health support for care leavers was also singled out following the Ofsted visit. It was recognised that the revised health passport, designed by care leavers, has been cited as an example of good practice by the national children’s commissioner.
The Council’s decision to extend the council tax discount for Swindon care leavers was also recognised as a strength by Ofsted.
Ofsted said that improvements were in the process of being implemented and agreed with the Council that more could be done to improve the accommodation available for care leavers and the way that it is assessed.
The quality of pathway planning was highlighted as an area for improvement so that it is more meaningful for young people, it fully considers risk and vulnerabilities and is used effectively to monitor progress and the impact of intervention.
Councillor Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and School Attainment, said: “This focused visit reinforces that our wider Children’s Services improvement programme is beginning to take shape and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hard-working staff for implementing these changes.
“I’m extremely pleased that Ofsted has recognised there has been progress in our care leavers’ provision but, at the same time, we recognise there is a still a long way to go on our journey to transform the services we provide to children and young people.”