Children in Calderdale are safe and cared for, says Ofsted report

Members of the Council's children and young people's service with Cabinet Member Cllr Adam Wilkinson and the Chief Executive, Robin Tuddenham

Children and young people who are supported by Calderdale Council feel safe and genuinely cared for, and have opportunities to thrive, become independent and achieve their ambitions.

This is just some of the praise Ofsted gave the Council in its inspection of Children and Young People’s Services in February 2024.

Inspectors rated the Council ‘good’ in all areas – overall effectiveness, the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families, and the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection, children in care and those leaving care.

Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, said:

“We are really proud of our ‘good’ Ofsted rating, and of all the children and young people, families, staff and partner organisations that have played a part in this brilliant achievement.

“We want all Calderdale children to have the best start in life. We want to reduce inequalities so they can have hope and aspiration and be who they want to be, now and in the future.

“The heartwarming comments from the inspectors, and from the children in our care, are confirmation that we’re doing the right things to protect them and help them live safe, healthy, stable, happy and successful lives. The feedback is also helping us to know where we need to improve.”

When Ofsted inspectors looked at children and young people’s experiences of the help, protection and care given to them by the Council, and at what leaders do to make these services better, these are some of the highlights they found:

  • Children in Calderdale feel safe and continue to receive strong and effective support that helps to improve their lives.
  • Children in care and care leavers have a say on issues that are important to them.
  • When children are at risk of harm, or have been harmed, everyone works well together to make them safer, both within the Council and with partner agencies.
  • Early help services provide “excellent support” to families when they start to have difficulties, so that family worries don’t get bigger, and “children positively benefit” from this support.
  • Children are helped by “skilled and committed” social workers who visit them regularly, know them well, “are ambitious for their children” and are “professionally curious”.
  • Most children are supported to remain with their families and friends where it is safe to do so. Where this is not possible, inspectors praised the “safe, nurturing placements” that “meet children’s needs well and help children to have stable homes and opportunities to achieve their potential”.
  • Foster carers speak highly of the support they receive, and most children are settled in their foster homes. Potential adopters say they are well prepared for their adoption journey, and “support for young carers is excellent.”
  • Leaders in the Council want to do the right things for children and their families. Ofsted praised the “ambitious and aspirational” leaders who “focus on learning and continuous improvement”, and “through the Corporate Leadership Team, maintain effective oversight of children’s service delivery”.
  • The Council has a strong ‘corporate parenting’ ethos, where looking out for children and young people is embedded in everyone’s role throughout the organisation. There is a strong culture of being ambitious for children and a desire to continuously do better for them.
  • The Council has invested in offering more benefits for foster carers, which is successfully attracting new carers, and has secured the opening of a new children’s home. This means most Calderdale children can live in Calderdale.
  • Social workers and other staff love working for the Council because they feel valued and supported. They describe Calderdale as a “family environment” where they can access a wide range of training to develop their skills, experience and confidence.
  • Care leavers told inspectors they feel “genuinely cared for” by their pathway advisors (the staff who work with them one-to-one), most are in full-time education, employment or training, and they are encouraged to develop independence through skills such as cooking and budgeting.

Ares for improvement, which the Council is working on, include:

  • Helping homeless 16- and 17-year-olds to live somewhere else (when they can’t live with their families) quicker, and ensuring they know more about their housing choices.
  • Ensuring that the small number of children who are not in the right school have quality personal education plans, so they have clear steps to progress and achieve their full potential.

The Ofsted report is available at link)

Watch the Council’s film giving reaction to the Ofsted ‘good’ rating, at link)

The Council’s Children and Young People’s Services support the Vision 2024 for Calderdale to be a place where everyone can live a larger life.

Calderdale reached its 50th anniversary on 1 April 2024. This is the ultimate year for the Vision 2024 for Calderdale. Find out more about it here:

As 2024 closes, the transition to the new Vision 2034 for Calderdale will begin, encouraging local communities to be bold and ambitious about what we can do next to make Calderdale a better place for all.