Good services with outstanding leadership – Wakefield Council transforms children’s services in just three years

Ofsted inspectors have confirmed that ‘outstanding’ leadership has transformed Wakefield Council’s children’s services in just three years.

According to Ofsted’s latest inspection carried out last month, children and their families are now benefitting from good support right across every service they access – with the Council putting ‘children at the centre of all practice’.

Believed to be one of the fastest improvements of Council maintained children’s services in the country, Wakefield has transformed itself from inadequate across the board in 2018 to soundly good in every area, with outstanding leadership.

Denise Jeffery
Cllr Denise Jeffery

The report praises the Council’s leadership for working ‘tirelessly’ to continually drive forward improvements, resulting in the delivery of good-quality services and sustained improved progress for children.

Welcoming the news, Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “Ofsted has now confirmed that the children and young people in this district are now accessing the good quality services they need and deserve.

“We have delivered on our commitment to successfully transform our children’s services. The progress that we have made has truly been outstanding, and that is thanks to all our colleagues and partners whose passion, unstinting determination and commitment have made this very positive outcome possible.

“The report clearly acknowledges the significant changes and vast improvements that have been made across all children’s services, and most importantly highlights the positive impact that this is having on children and their families.

“Families have the commitment from my Council and I, that we will continue to drive improvement, wherever possible, placing children and young people at the very heart of everything we do.”

The inspection covered the whole range of services Wakefield Council provides for children and young people and took place over two weeks in November 2021.

Inspectors found that:

The report acknowledges the Council’s significant and sustained investment in the workforce through additional staff, increased managerial support and a visible and approachable leadership team. It states that ‘workers are, without exception, very enthusiastic about working for Wakefield’. And that workers recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made and ‘want to be part of the continued drive to further improve the quality and effectiveness of services to children’.

Margaret Isherwood smiling
Cllr Margaret Isherwood

Partnership working is reported as a strength at both strategic and operational levels. In addition, ‘good understanding of thresholds’ and ‘joined-up thinking’ through the vision of Wakefield Families Together was highlighted as ‘having a positive impact on children and families’.

Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We have built this transformation on solid and sustainable foundations and I am very pleased to receive this outcome and endorsement. But what matters most is that everything we have done and continue to do is having a positive impact on our children and young people.

“The partnership working that is now in place across the district is a huge strength and I thank our partners for the key role they play in looking after our children and young people who they support.

“We will not be complacent and working together with our partners, we want to continue to sustain and even further improve the delivery of services to ensure that children’s voices are always heard and that all children are given the support they need fulfil their potential.”

Two areas for improvement have been highlighted, however Ofsted noted that senior leaders already had plans in place to further improve the assessment and response to risk for Care Leavers to ensure that they all receive a consistently good service.

The quality of written plans could be further improved so that it is of a consistently high standard across all teams, but this was not having an adverse impact on progress for children.

The full Ofsted report is available here.