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Ofsted Inspection 2017



Ofsted have today published their latest report on Children’s Services in Bedford Borough and whilst the services ‘Require Improvement to be Good’ the Inspectors have acknowledged the quality of leadership, both political and professional, that has been overseeing an improvement journey instigated by the Borough in 2014.  


Ofsted inspected Bedford Borough against the Single Inspection framework between the 23rd January and the 16th February 2017 examining around 200 case files and interviewing The Mayor and Councillors, staff, partners and young people.  Whilst the overall grade is ‘Require Improvement to be Good’, Ofsted judged both adoption performance and the experiences of care leavers as Good. The Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board was also inspected at the same time and was judged to be ‘Good’.

Bedford Borough Council has welcomed the report and has set out a robust Action Plan to drive further improvement throughout the service and address the report’s recommendations to achieve this.

The report states:

‘The DCS and his senior management team provide strong strategic leadership. Together with the chief executive and elected mayor, they have a clear vision for service improvement. They know what good services should look like and how outcomes for children and families need to be improved.’ (Para 75)


The report emphasises that Bedford Borough has a good range of services and that these are improving outcomes for children, including those who have experienced domestic abuse. Ofsted noted that ‘partners have a clear vision and commitment to working together to improve outcomes for all children in Bedford Borough’.


The inspection did highlight that despite this progress, social work caseloads and the use of locums remain high. However Ofsted has confirmed that senior managers have proactively responded to these challenging circumstances with a workforce strategy designed to improve recruitment and retention. It also acknowledges the additional investment made by the Council to support this and tackle these challenges.


Mayor Dave Hodgson said: 

“I welcome the Ofsted report which provides further evidence of our determination to have children’s services that consistently provide a good service. The report confirms our own understanding of our improvement journey and we are investing a further £3m in the next 3 years to employ more social workers to ensure they have caseloads that mean they can work more effectively. We are also continuing to support our Academy which is enabling new social workers to receive support in the early stages of their career.  So if you are a social worker and want to join us on our journey to ‘good’ now is the time”.


Cllr Shan Hunt, Lead member for Children’s Services said:

"The welfare of children is paramount. I'm pleased that OFSTED have recognised that children at risk of harm are identified appropriately by Bedford Borough Council, and that swift action is taken to ensure they are safe."

Cllr Henry Vann, Portfolio Holder for Education said:

“I am pleased to see that the decisive action regarding the education of looked after children has been recognised and the outcomes for looked after children at key stage 4 are now amongst the best in the country as we continue our improvement journey and investment across this vital area of work.

I’m also pleased to see that the early help offer supporting the most vulnerable families in Bedford Borough, which has been supported by our partners including schools, has also been recognised as good practice and considered one of the top 5 in the country.”


View the Ofsted report in full here

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