Consistently high quality social work sees remarkable turnaround in children’s services department

A children’s services department has become the first in the country to make the leap from an inadequate rating to outstanding.

The national first makes Sunderland one of only 18 local authorities in England to have the top rating, having gone through a remarkable turnaround in three years.

During an inspection of services earlier in the summer, Ofsted found that children’s services have been transformed and stated they are “making a real difference to children’s lives”.

The watchdog found social work was of consistently high quality and “relentless” in significantly improving the experience of children and young people.

The report said the improvement was more impressive as it had been achieved during the pandemic.

The service, delivered by Together for Children on behalf of the council, has been radically changed by its leadership.

As recently as 2018 the service was rated inadequate.

Sunderland City Council leader Councillor Graeme Miller said: “Children and young people in Sunderland deserve the very best, so I’m absolutely delighted to see Ofsted rating our children’s services outstanding after an exceptionally difficult few years.”

Jill Colbert (pictured), chief executive of Together for Children and director of children’s services for the city council, said: “The outcome of this inspection marks a turning point for children’s services and for families in Sunderland.

“It draws a line under our difficult history and celebrates the incredible work our staff have done to deliver outstanding services to children.”

Children and families minister Vicky Ford said: “It is so easy to focus on the challenges facing social workers, councils and children’s services, without taking time to acknowledge or champion success.

“The vast improvements in Sunderland demonstrate the importance of Government intervening swiftly and decisively where children and families are being failed, so that the right support is in place to level up outcomes and transform lives.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Together for Children.