Camden children’s services rated outstanding by Ofsted

Camden’s children’s services have been judged as one of only ten in the country to be performing excellently. Ofsted inspectors who examined the service in 2009 have produced a report highlighting Camden’s excellence and giving it the very highest possible rating.

Camden was included in a special report which analyses some of the key factors that led to the Council’s effectiveness and high performance.

The Outstanding rating came after inspection in 2009 and has been included in the 2010 report which goes into further detail about the country’s ten best children’s council services.

Along with Camden, only nine other councils were deemed excellent. In the annual report, Ofsted said in the highest performing local authorities “children had a good start in early years’ provision and most continued to do well throughout their education.” They found that Camden and the other excellent authorities “had strong management arrangements, especially in children’s social care, and there were many examples of the good involvement of children and families in making decisions about the services that affected their lives.”

It concluded that “aspiration and tenacity” were strong features of the way the Council was led and managed and as one of the best performing authorities, Camden showed:

*    Consistency in practice that is driving real improvement of local services
*    A clear focus on the children and young people who need support most and on their progress and development
*    A deep understanding of local children, families and communities

As part of the review, Camden submitted information about its virtual school for children in care. The Camden Academy is the council’s all-age virtual school for looked after children which has helped raise educational standards for children and young people placed both in Camden and elsewhere.  The academy includes professionals from different agencies, allowing them to easily collaborate to produce the very best outcomes for children. Not only has the system shown great success in partnership working but has also given social workers and foster carers a greater understanding of the importance of a good education for looked after children.

The academy has produced individual plans to help produce stable placements for children and prevent disrupted schooling by ensuring access to vital services and support for vulnerable children who need it most.

The scheme has been so successful that it has even helped reduce school absence rates among looked after children. Where in June 2008 15.8% of looked after children had more than 25 days of absence from school during the year, by June of 2009 that figure had reduced to just 10.9%.

The case study showed heart warming examples of just what can be achieved if looked after children are given the attention and services they need.

In one case a young person had hardly attended school because of his insecure living conditions. The academy’s interview and assessment showed that the young person had ability and aspirations. It explored many possible placements before finding the most suitable one and the young person has now been offered a place at Sussex University.

Councillor Heather Johnson, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families, Camden Council, said: “This is marvellous news for our children’s services. We must never rest on our laurels and must continue to strive for excellence but this is a great boost for all our hard working social workers who go all out to help our most vulnerable people. I would like to personally congratulate and thank everyone involved and hope that we can continue to provide an excellent service for years to come.”

Camden’s 2010 Ofsted rating will be revealed at the end of the year.

To see relevant reports follow the links below: