Sunderland’s children’s services continues to improve, says watchdog

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.

The turn around of a service which looks after Sunderland’s most vulnerable children is continuing in the right direction.

In the latest Ofsted visit to Together for Children (TfC), the company which has taken over the management of the city’s service, has noted it is “making sustained progress” in improving.

Councillor Louise Farthing.

Councillor Louise Farthing.

It was carried out as part of the watchdog’s regular checks after it graded the service, along with the safeguarding board, as “inadequate” in July 2015.

It is the second visit since TfC was launched in April and fifth since the grading was published.

Among the areas highlighted for praise was the effort to recruit staff, with 75 new workers taken on by the company.

The inspection focussed on areas including initial responses to those in need, including early help; assessment of risk; management decision-making, oversight and supervision; information sharing and partnership working.

I’m pleased to see our progress to date and confident that the company will continue on this upward trajectory.

Deborah Jenkins

Inspectors scrutinised records, interviewed social workers, managers and partnership organisations and reviewed documents.

In her follow up letter, Fiona Millns, who led the team, said it found evidence of progress in several areas, as well as improved management oversight and better staff stability in some teams, as well as “clear strategies” in matters including supporting staff recruitment.

Deborah Jenkins, chairman of the TfC board, said: “I’m pleased to see our progress to date and confident that the company will continue on this upward trajectory.”

Councillor Louise Farthing, cabinet member for Children’s Services at Sunderland City Council, added: “I am pleased to see we have seen some significant progress since the Ofsted report in July 2015, but no one is under any illusion that we still have a lot further to go in improving services for children and young people. 
“Everyone at the new company and the council is firmly committed to continuing our improvement.”

For more about TfC visit www.togetherforchildren.org.uk.