A joint statement from Reading Brough Council and us.

Brighter Futures for Children, the Reading Borough Council-owned company which took over children’s services ten months ago, has successfully moved the service out of its ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in all four judgement areas.

Ofsted inspectors visited the service between September 16-27 for a full inspection and re-graded the service as ‘requires improvement to be good’. The results were published today (28/10/19).

‘This is a huge achievement – across the board – and we’re delighted that all the hard work that our staff and partners have put into improving the quality of children’s services in Reading has been recognised,’ said Antony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children.

‘This has given staff a tremendous boost, in both morale and pride in their work. It’s also a great message for the children, young people and families we serve to know that the services we provide are getting better,’ he added.

Cllr Liz Terry, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: ‘We are delighted that Ofsted has recognised the huge efforts being made to help turn children’s services around in Reading. The important thing now is for that recognition to translate into better life outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families in the town.

‘I am proud that the many staff who have worked in Reading over this difficult period now have this recognition of improvement. This could not have happened without the support of many partners, especially the ONE Reading Partnership.

“There is no doubt challenges remain, and the council will continue to work collaboratively with BFfC to continue to drive further improvements and to ensure this positive direction is sustained.’

Inspectors found evidence of improvement in most areas of practice. They found that senior leaders had ‘rightly focused on strengthening the recruitment and retention of staff, caseloads are reducing, and there has been an increase in management capacity.’

They also found that the company and council were ‘working collaboratively, and appropriate arrangements for scrutiny and challenge were in place’.

The four judgement areas, which all received the ‘requires improvement to be good’ rating are:

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

The four ‘grades’ that Ofsted awards to children’s services are:

  • Inadequate
  • Requires improvement to be good
  • Good
  • Outstanding.

During the inspection, Deborah Glassbrook, who takes up her new role as Director of Children’s Services at Brighter Futures for Children in November, worked alongside the interim DCS Eleni Ioannides and the senior leadership team to brief inspectors and give them full access to cases, information, staff, service users and partners, as required.

She did so in her role as Director of Improvement and said: ‘We are all thrilled with this positive result. We know there is still a huge amount of work to be done to further improve children’s social care in Reading but it’s very encouraging to have confirmation that the improvements we are making are already starting to show and that the company’s leadership is collaborative, strong, stable and committed to making positive changes to the service.’

The full report can be found here: https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50119620