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Inspection of Children's Services shows commitment to multi-agency approach

Looked after children in Bedford Borough are safe and outcomes are improving for vulnerable children according to an independent inspection of Bedford Borough’s Safeguarding and Looked After Children services.

 

Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an announced inspection of Bedford Borough Council’s Safeguarding and Looked After Children services, including those provided by agencies and partners. The inspection was carried out this month, as part of a national 3 year cycle of statutory inspections. Findings from this inspection reported that the overall effectiveness of safeguarding and services for looked after children in Bedford is adequate with no children found to be left inadequately protected during the inspection.

 

This is Bedford Borough Council’s first such announced inspection as a new Unitary Authority. To date, Bedford Borough has undergone two unannounced Ofsted inspections, one announced inspection, and two annual assessments. The latest Annual Assessment of all Children’s Services in Bedford Borough overall, published in November, saw Bedford Borough Council’s performance rating improve to performing well.


Ofsted report that senior managers, leaders and elected members are fully committed to securing the safety of children within the area.


Throughout the inspection evidence of good partnership working was also revealed.

 

The Police are making a strong contribution to the effectiveness of local safeguarding services and Ofsted noted that joint working with local schools has improved. The contribution of health agencies to keeping children safe is adequate, with firm improvement plans in place to secure developments going forward.

 

Ofsted highlighted that there had already been progress since the last unannounced inspection. Bedford Borough Council has produced its own action plan and has started to implement it to act upon the recommendations noted within the report.


Cllr Sue Oliver, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council, said: “There is no greater responsibility than safeguarding children. We are committed to ensuring the quality of services so that children experience a safe, educated, happy and healthy childhood. I am pleased that the report recognises the improvements that have already been made. Together with our partners, we will strive to ensure ongoing improvement across all aspects of Safeguarding and Looked After Children services.”

 

Angela McNab, Chief Executive of NHS Bedfordshire and Luton, said: “We welcome this joint Ofsted and CQC report and will be working with our partners to implement a number of recommendations to ensure we continue to improve our safeguarding and looked after children services.”

 

Detective Superintendent Nigel Stone, Head of Bedfordshire Police Public Protection Unit, said: “Working in partnership to safeguard children forms a vital part of the force’s aim to fight crime and protect the public. We are pleased that the report acknowledges the considerable effort the force has made in this field and we will remain committed to all young people in order that they can live safe from harm.”


Special schools and primary level schools were all judged to be good or better for safeguarding. Similarly, the adoption services which serves Bedford has recently been inspected and its safeguarding arrangements assessed as good.

Bedford Borough has achieved similar status to other areas within the Eastern region, and the Council is committed to taking robust action towards securing improvements.

 

The Bedford Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) was established in 2010; it is well developed, ably led and has good partner engagement. Laura Eades, Independent Chairperson of BSCB said: “The effectiveness of the BSCB partnership will be an asset in driving improvement across partner agencies and ensuring continued development of early help services.

 

Ofsted discovered that there is strong engagement from health executives and a good level of challenge from the range of strategic boards, including the BSCB, the Shadow Health and Well-Being board, and with individual trust

boards.

 

Going forward, safeguarding and looked after children will remain a high priority for the Local Authority and its partners. Ofsted reported that this is reflected in financial prioritisation and in the strong engagement of the Mayor, Chief Executive and other senior leaders.

 

To view the report in full visit   www.ofsted.gov.uk

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