Our improvement journey
How we got here
For several years, Reading Borough Council struggled to deliver the quality of social services that the town’s children deserved. Problems with retaining a stable workforce, consistency of practice, and increasingly complex cases were highlighted in an Ofsted inspection in 2016, resulting in a judgment of Inadequate.
Following this judgement concerted efforts were made by the council with the support of a DfE Commissioner to implement an improvement plan. The decision was made that an alternative delivery company model would provide the best opportunity to improve services and bring new focus to the issues faced by children and young people in the borough.
Brighter Futures for Children was created as an independent, not-for-profit, company wholly owned by the council and took over the provision of education, early help and children’s services in Reading in December 2018.
Ofsted carried out regular monitoring visits since the 2016 judgement in which they acknowledged improvement efforts whilst reiterating that much still needed to be done and at a faster pace.
In August 2019, one of BFfC’s children’s homes, Pinecroft, was judged Outstanding by Ofsted following an unannounced inspection visit (https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/outstanding-rating-for-our-childrens-home/).
Reading’s children’s social care service moved out of its ‘Inadequate’ status in October 2019, just 10 months after BFfC had taken over its operation. Inspectors rated the service as ‘Requires improvement to be good’ in all four judgement areas (https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/readings-childrens-services-no-longer-inadequate/).
Cressingham became BFfC’s second children’s home to receive an Outstanding Ofsted judgement in February 2020 (https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/outstanding-rating-for-our-short-breaks-childrens-home/).
In March 2020 BFfC’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) moved out of its ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted status in its first inspection since the company took over the service in March 2019. The IFA was judged as ‘Requires improvement to be good’ in all three inspection areas (https://brighterfuturesforchildren.org/readings-fostering-service-no-longer-inadequate/).
In February 2021, our continuing improvement journey reached a major milestone when it was officially confirmed that we had been removed from Government intervention.
In a letter to Reading Borough Council Leader Jason Brock, Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, confirmed she was lifting the Government direction with immediate effect.
The letter acknowledged ‘significant improvement’ since Ofsted’s inspection 5 years ago and the ‘hard work and commitment of all involved.”
In June 2021 Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an inspection of Reading local area’s effectiveness in identifying and meeting the needs of, and improving outcomes for, children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) .
We recognise there is still much work to be done.
There is real determination at all levels to continue to make Brighter Futures for Children a success – and to carry on improving the lives of children in Reading.