Bedford Children’s Services keeping “fingers crossed” for next Ofsted inspection

children drawing

Bedford’s leaders of children’s services believe Ofsted inspectors will find big improvements when they next pay the borough an in-depth visit.

Borough council children’s services – which provides support for hundreds of children – were found to “require improvement” at the last main inspection in 2017.

The council was recommended to improve in 10 different aspects of work, including changing the way they interview looked-after children who run away from home.

With a full Ofsted inspection due sometime soon – the council does not know when – Martin Purbrick, the council’s director of children’s services, said he did not have “any worries” about services.

Speaking at a meeting of the council’s children’s services overview and scrutiny committee Mr Purbrick added: “I’m not saying everything’s perfect. We want to be continually improving and we know where there are areas for us to do that.”

He also told Monday’s meeting that four years ago, there was a “lot of distrust” around council services, but they have responded to criticism and changed.

The next time the inspector calls will be an in-depth look at how social workers carry out their work over a three week period, the committee heard.

Mr Purbrick said inspectors will see “huge differences from when they visited last time.”

The council has been focusing on hearing children’s voices, making pledges to them and teaching them how to live independently when they leave care.

It also employs a “dedicated life story worker” to tell a child’s life story, and to show them their life when they get older.

“Ofsted found our life story books really moving,” said Mr Purbrick.

Chairing the committee, the committee’s leader, Cllr Hilde Hendrickx (Lib Dem, Newnham) rounded off the committee’s discussion saying: “Fingers crossed for when they come.”

by David Tooley, Local Democracy Reporter
and Paul Hutchinson.

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