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Surrey County Council welcomes “improved” Ofsted grading for children and family services

  • Surrey County Council is pleased that services for children and families in Surrey have improved in all areas, according to a recent Ofsted inspection

  • Inspectors noted that Surrey’s leaders have achieved “significant change”, based on a thorough understanding of current performance and are “determined to continue the trajectory of improvement”

  • The number of recommendations from Ofsted more than halved in comparison to the last inspection report in 2018

  • Inspectors found the leadership team is implementing a “clear and comprehensive” improvement programme and there is now a “strong foundation” to strive for excellence.

Tim Oliver, Leader of Surrey County Council said: “I’m glad that the immense amount of hard work to improve our Children’s Services has been officially recognised by Ofsted. We have painstakingly undertaken a complete review of everything we do, and it is clear from Ofsted that they now have confidence in our leadership, our processes and our staff. After many years we are now out of intervention, we have trusted leaders and are well on the way to delivering outstanding care and support to our young people. We know there is more to do, and we will do it with renewed energy and added confidence from this report.”

Commenting on the service turnaround, Surrey County Council Lead Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Clare Curran said: “Children’s services in Surrey are unrecognisable from 2018 and I am proud of the improved rating we have received from Ofsted, which brings us one step closer to ensuring no one is left behind. Our teams have worked tirelessly to transform Surrey’s children’s services since the last inspection in 2018, even amid a global pandemic. We have been absolutely focussed on improving our services for children and families in Surrey, and I’m delighted that Ofsted has recognised this, and the progress made.”

“This outcome is a solid foundation on which the service can now build; we know what good looks like we will keep going, always rooting children and families in our hearts and minds. We are not far away from the next step up in our improvement journey, and we thank Ofsted for their recommendations which will form part of our revised plans and ambitions to aim for excellence.”

“Throughout our service transformation, we’ve had very helpful engagement with some of our children and families. I would like to say a huge thank you for your support and for sharing your experiences with Ofsted. To all children in Surrey, we give you our commitment to keep doing our best for you and listening to your feedback. We will continue working in partnership and we welcome your ongoing support with helping us improve our services even more. It is vital that we hear and promote the voices of Surrey’s young people and take them into account when making important decisions about the services that affect them.”

“I would also like to sincerely thank our children’s services workforce, who all carry out their roles with pride and purpose to do their best for children and families in Surrey. Some of these jobs are tough and it takes a special kind of person to work so selflessly; I appreciate and admire the lifechanging work that they do every day.” The latest inspection, published in a report on 9 March 2022 by Ofsted, found that children’s services in Surrey require improvement to be rated as good, but had “improved” since the last inspection in 2018. The report noted that most social workers listen carefully to children and make sure that their views inform decision-making and, when children come into care, they are placed within their wider family if this is possible and in their best interests. Ofsted noted that most children in care live in long-term homes and make good progress and many care leavers are supported well to live independently, developing confidence and skills to assist them into adulthood.

Ofsted found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Surrey staff working with children and families have felt well supported which, in turn, has enabled them to continue to support children and families. However, inspectors did note that the proportion of permanent staff, to reduce turnover, needs to improve in order to embed the improvements more strongly. This comes at a time when the service is actively recruiting permanent staff and striving to retain the best people. In a drive to illustrate the opportunity in Surrey, and the sense of purpose that roles in social work bring, the service is launching a campaign to encourage new permanent employees to join the Surrey team. Find out more about how it feels to have a children’s services career with a purpose here:

The full Ofsted report can be viewed here: https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50178857

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