A nice letter landed on my desk last week – from Minister of State for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill, congratulating Knowsley on the significant improvements Ofsted found when they inspected us a couple of months ago.
Turning around our Ofsted judgement on the services we provide for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, from a verdict of ‘inadequate’ to the much better ‘requires improvement’ has been the relentless focus of everyone involved in children’s services in Knowsley for the past three years.
Particularly pleasing in the latest inspection was the fact that three out of the five areas inspected were actually graded ‘good’ – which tells you something about the pace of improvements that have been secured in services which include adoption, adoption, care leavers, leadership, management and governance, help and protection and children looked after.
Mr Goodwill’s letter confirmed that the Improvement Notice issued in 2014 had been formally removed and he recognised just how much we have achieved – he said: “It is clear to me from Ofsted’s report there is a strong commitment to this goal [of making services for vulnerable children really effective and delivered to a high standard] in Knowsley, and that this is shared by elected members, senior leaders, partners and staff at all levels.”
It’s great to see our achievements are being recognised. But we are not complacent, and we will now focus our efforts on the continuing improvement which is needed to ensure all our services are good or better. For us, ‘requires improvement’ means we will get on and do just that, to ensure vulnerable young people are getting the very best service, which they deserve.
And it’s clear that Mr Goodwill shares my sentiment. His letter says: “I am confident that the commitment, hard work and determination shown by all involved in the service improvement in Knowsley will make this ambition a reality.”
And he signs off: “I am really very encouraged and impressed by the progress you have made.”
I’m also encouraged and impressed – and extremely proud of what my officers and elected member colleagues have achieved. It has involved a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication, and that spirit to continue improving is still very much alive. That’s why I’m so confident we can and will build on this success.
A big thank you to all involved in this achievement.