Realising the potential of Children in Care

What Ofsted said....

August 2013 - Looked After Children’s Inspection

  • Significant achievements have been made to improve outcomes for children and young people. For example, the reorganisation of services for looked after children into four locality teams and better collaborative working arrangements with key partner agencies are evident in the process being made by the council. The council has made a substantial financial investment into services for looked after children despite its widespread budgetary constraints. The development of VSK has clearly had an impact on reducing fixed term or permanent exclusions and improving attendance, achievement and attainment. This is evidenced in the educational progress children and young people are now making.

    • Health outcomes for looked after children and care leavers have improved since the last inspection and are now adequate. Information sharing is improving and is leading to more consistency in health provision for looked after children. Health needs of children who live out of authority are monitored through VSK. This works effectively with looked after children nurses in other authorities to ensure that health assessments are completed in a timely way.
  • There is improving performance in dental checks and review of health assessments. Significant work has taken place to improve the timeliness and take-up of health assessments and initial dental consultations. This has included undertaking visits to the child’s placement and telephone consultations. A named looked after children’s nurse with specialist skills to support 16+ male UASC living in Millbank assessment centre provides continuity for these young people.

    • Educational outcomes for looked after children are adequate. As a result of the development of the VSK there have been improvements in the achievement of looked after children since the SLAC inspection in 2010. There is an upward trend in attainment at the end of Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4. More looked after children reach Level 4 in English at the end of Year 6 and gain five A* to C grades in the GCSE examinations, including English and Maths. However, results in Key Stage 2 Maths were low in 2012 due to pupils leaving the authority just before the SATs. Most looked after children make average progress from their starting points and few make good progress. Support Workers from VSK make a strong contribution to pupils’ accelerated progress, particularly in primary schools. Designated Teachers receive a good range of training especially in how to meet the learning and emotional needs of looked after children. The Headteacher of VSK gives a good and strong leadership to this service. His determination to give the best possible education to all looked after children has resulted in an effective restructure and expansion of the staff team. VSK effectively monitors and supports looked after children placed in out of county placements. The Headteacher with his senior leadership team provides a good level of challenge to schools. They collect information about all looked after children and hold schools to account for how they meet their learning and emotional needs. The outcome of this is improvements in achievement and attendance and a reduction in the number of looked after children having fixed term or permanent exclusions from school. One Headteacher said “it is not fair to call it the virtual school because schools get real support from real people when we need this.” VSK has recently introduced an awards ceremony to celebrate the achievements of looked after children. This is very popular and carers and the children greatly value the recognition that this gives to their hard work and commitment to learning.