Merton Children’s Services rated Outstanding by Ofsted
Merton’s Children’s Services have been confirmed as one of the best of its kind in the country, achieving a much-coveted ‘Outstanding’ rating in its Ofsted inspection, which took place earlier this year from 28 February to 4 March.
On the four key judgments Merton rated as Outstanding in three and Good in one. These were: impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families (Outstanding); experiences and progress of children who need help and protection (Good); and experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers (Outstanding); contributing to the Outstanding grade for overall effectiveness.
Ofsted paid tribute to Merton’s senior leaders, saying that “highly aspirational and committed senior managers and political leaders placed children and their families at the centre of their decision-making.”
Referring to their last inspection in 2017, Ofsted said that the leadership team had “strengthened and built on the impressive work” observed five years before.
“There is evidence of continuous thoughtful and creative innovative work that has enhanced the quality of social work practice across all teams,” the report said.
Despite the unprecedented challenges thrown up by the pandemic, Merton had helped to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic through “effective proactive action, working together with key partners to keep children safe and to support all staff in their work with children and families.”
“Strong and respectful safeguarding partnerships” set up by Merton helped protect children from harm, while the borough’s “excellent services are delivered by skilled, experienced social workers and other frontline practitioners to provide sensitive and innovative child-centred interventions.”
Staff in Children’s Services were “making a positive difference to enrich the daily lived experiences of children, while making them safer.”
Services for children in care and young people leaving care were also highly praised, with the “exceptional care and support” of the staff highlighted.
The commitment of Merton staff to children’s futures was also noted, with Ofsted recognising our “dedicated, experienced staff and carers [who] are highly ambitious for children and work very well together to ensure that children remain safe and achieve in life.”
Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s National Director for Social Care, said: “This outcome is a significant achievement and a testament to the hard work and tenacity of the leadership team, managers and frontline staff, the wider council and safeguarding partners.”
Councillor Eleanor Stringer, Cabinet Member for Children and Education at the time of the inspection, said: “This is such fantastic news and is a ringing endorsement of all the work our Children’s Services staff have put in over the last five years since the last inspection.
“This announcement puts our team and their work among the best in the country. Ofsted praised our work across the board: from work with vulnerable adolescents, our child protection work, through to how we prepare young people to leave our care.
“I’m particularly proud that Ofsted recognised how staff went above and beyond the call of duty during the pandemic to continue to provide excellent services despite the disruption involved and I’d like to thank everyone for their hard work over the past few years.
“The team are a credit to the borough, and I’m proud that as a council we have supported and protected our children’s services throughout a challenging period.”