Children’s services in Peterborough have been rated as ‘Good’ for the first time after making big improvements.
Ofsted has praised the city council and described services for children as having “improved significantly” since 2015 when it gave a rating of ‘Requires Improvement’.
Before then, in September 2011, children’s services had been rated as ‘Inadequate’.
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, executive director for people and communities in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, joined the council just before it was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ three years ago.
She picked out strong leadership, strong political support from the Conservative administration and a more stable workforce, including senior management, as the reasons for the improvement. She also praised the support from schools, police and health colleagues.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the commitment and the support from all the staff who want to make a difference to families and children in the city,” she said.
“One of things I’m most proud of is we have managed significant improvement without throwing a shed load of cash at it. We have focused on developing a learning culture.
“Social workers say they feel supported. I’d never seen in an Ofsted inspection report before social workers say what a great place it is to work.”
Ofsted gave a ‘Good’ rating in all four criteria that it graded, including ‘the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection’ and ‘the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers’.
Peterborough became a unitary authority in 1998 and children’s services have never been rated ‘Good’ until now.
‘We will not be complacent’
Going from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ is the next aim for children’s services in Peterborough.
This week’s positive report from Ofsted included five areas to improve on, including the number of return interviews that are successfully completed with children who have been missing from care.
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, executive director for people and communities in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, said: “I believe in continuous development and not being complacent. I know there’s more we can do.”
Ofsted in its report praised the charity TACT which took over the running of Peterborough’s fostering and adoption services last year - a first for anywhere in the country.
And having senior staff working at both Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council was also said to have “driven improvement at a pace.”
Ms Ogle-Welbourn joined the city council three years ago. Back then, she said: “There was very, very low staff morale and most of the management were new. There was not the learning from things that had not gone well.”