Ofsted has rated Hertfordshire County Council’s Children’s Services as ‘outstanding’ after four years.

Following a recent inspection, Ofsted has judged Children’s Services to be outstanding in overall effectiveness, placing it among the best in the UK.

In a report published today (Friday, March 10), Ofsted found that children and young people in Hertfordshire benefit from consistently high-quality, excellent care and support.

The inspection took place between Monday, January 23 and Friday, January 27, 2023, with a focus on services for children in need of help and protection, children in care, care leavers and leadership and management.

The new judgement is an improvement on the council’s previous good rating. The rating of outstanding for overall effectiveness is the highest score that can be achieved.

Inspectors described Hertfordshire’s social workers and practitioners as experienced and skilled, and praised their commitment, noting the positive relationships they have with children.

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They noted that social workers enjoy working in Hertfordshire, find their work rewarding and that those new to the authority feel welcomed and supported.

The rating also mentioned that - working alongside a highly effective director of children’s services and her capable senior leadership team - the local authority’s corporate and political leaders prioritise the needs of children.

Cllr Fiona Thomson, executive member for children, young people and families at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “I am so pleased that Ofsted have recognised the fantastic work our children’s services teams do to support young people and their families.

"This ‘outstanding’ rating puts us among the best in the country, and it’s all down to the amazing work of our staff. They really are outstanding and I am delighted that the inspectors have seen their commitment and professionalism, and recognised that the county council is a great place to work.”

Ofsted, the government organisation responsible for inspecting and regulating services that care for children and young people, carried out a formal, unannounced inspection of the services.

In terms of improvement required, the report said the timeliness and quality of some referrals, including the establishing of parental consent by partner agencies needs to improve- along with supervision and management oversight of practice in care leavers services and support to enable care leavers to access and understand their health histories.

The Comet: HCC staff celebrate 'Outstanding' Ofsted rating.HCC staff celebrate 'Outstanding' Ofsted rating. (Image: HCC)

The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection was rated good, with inspectors reporting that when children are experiencing domestic abuse in their families, social workers respond to these concerns both appropriately and quickly.

For most children there are clear pathways in place that ensure that they receive an effective and timely response, but for some children, partner agencies are not quick enough, which can delay help being provided to these children.

The report also said: "Partner agencies are not always consistent in gaining consent from parents before contacting the local authority.

"In these instances, families are not prepared for a contact from children’s social care. When social workers receive referrals, they seek appropriate consent from parents before making enquiries with agencies about their children."

There were 32 points made for why the experiences and progress of children in care was rated outstanding.

These referred to the strong oversight of children looked after, including disabled children, ensuring that their plans are regularly monitored and progressed.


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The report added: "Independent reviewing officers are consistent people in children’s lives, who seek their views and involve them in their care planning. Some children chair their own reviews."

Hertfordshire County Council said: "This result has only been possible because of the hard work and dedication of the people working in Hertfordshire’s children’s services teams.

"The county council is always looking for people who are passionate about making a real difference to local children and families to join the Children’s Services team in a wide variety of roles across Hertfordshire."

Details can be found on the council website under 'Work with children and families' on jobs.hertfordshire.gov.uk/departments/departments.aspx