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Realising the potential of Children in Care

Kent’s children’s services judged as ‘outstanding’

Posted on by Judy Molyneux

Ofsted LogoKent County Council’s (KCC) children’s services have been rated “outstanding” by Ofsted following an inspection in May, making Kent one of the best-performing councils in the country.

Ofsted inspectors visited Kent’s children’s services in May this year. They scored KCC’s children’s services against four judgements:

  • The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families – Outstanding
  • The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection – Good
  • The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers – Outstanding
  • Overall effectiveness – Outstanding

The Ofsted Report published on 5th July had this to say about the work of the virtual school and areas they have contributed to:

  1. Children are at the centre of Kent County Council’s culture and practice… resulting in positive outcomes for them and their families. Outstanding practice is evident for children in care and care experienced young people as they clearly benefit from the support they receive and make good progress. (Page 1 Opening statement)
  2. Kent children’s services have had to respond to the unparalleled numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in the county. (Page 2 Opening statement)
  3. What needs to improve - The practice of conducting visits to children during school hours, resulting in them missing lessons. (Page 2 – What needs to improve?)
  4. Following referral to Kent, newly arrived unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are provided with support in line with their individual needs (Para 17)
  5. Positive experiences and progress are evident for many of Kent’s children in care. Many children gain stability and feel part of their carer’s family, re-engage in education and now have trusted support. (Para 27)
  6. Foster carers are universally positive about their support… This also includes working with the virtual school, which is supportive, responsive and helpful in signposting carers towards enrichment activities that match children’s interests and needs. (Para 28)
  7. Virtual school leaders are driven by a sense of purpose and ambition for children in care in Kent. They are the first virtual school to be awarded the National Nurturing Schools programme award, which recognises practice that is central to their work. They are supported by a well-considered infrastructure of workers that helps to provide consistency across the county. Their work to offer training and support to schools around relevant issues such as trauma is a particular strength. Schools are positive about the high quality of support they and their pupils receive from the virtual school. (Para 32)
  8. Personal education plans are fit for purpose, although leaders recognise where they could be more explicit, for example in capturing the voice of the child and the foster carers. Through strong support, most pupils are on track to achieve appropriate academic outcomes. (Para 33)
  9. Skilfully tailored packages of support help redress the impact of early trauma and limited educational opportunities. This support enables care experienced young people to continue to develop their skills and confidence and to access work and education opportunities. Performance data confirms Kent has higher numbers of care experienced young people than other areas who have successfully gained entry to college, university degree courses or employment, despite sometimes significant gaps in their educational history. (Para 38)
  10. Kent routinely employs care experienced adults as young apprentices in the council’s participation service. Several young people have successfully completed their apprenticeships and are now in employment with the service. The impact they have is a particular strength of the council. ( Para 41)
  11. Leaders across Kent County Council demonstrate that they are ambitious parents to children in their care. The corporate parenting role is well embedded within the council… The pandemic did not deter the council from celebrating the successes of its children in care as it continued virtually with its annual awards ceremony to celebrate their achievements. Surprised and delighted children received unexpected visitors at their door with gifts, with photos and video taken to capture these moments and provide invaluable memories. (Para 47)
  12. Children’s participation is well promoted within the council. The council routinely seeks to learn from children through online surveys, complaints and other mechanisms to hear their views. Five distinct children and young people’s groups cover different age ranges and include a group for foster and adopter family birth children, and together make up an active Children in Care Council. The Children in Care Council is routinely consulted and children are assured that their voices are listened to. Participation and engagement are supported by the very active, creative and vibrant participation team. Their reach is extensive, influencing local, regional and national agendas. The use of challenge cards has successfully led to corporate changes, generated by children and care experienced young adults. (Para 48)

Tony DoranTony Doran, Headteacher said “This is a wonderful reflection of the hard work and commitment we put into supporting our network and especially our young people day to day”