A landmark judgment on Children’s Services in Torbay is being published today following an Ofsted inspection which took place between 21 March to 1 April 2022.

Ofsted have judged the Council as ‘Good’ in all four areas of inspection
• The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families.
• The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection.
• The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers.
• Overall effectiveness.

The report confirms that “services for children in Torbay have significantly improved” and that this is an “impressive achievement”, recognising that we are making a real difference to the lives of our children and young people.

After receiving an ‘Inadequate’ rating following the last two inspections and years of underperforming historically, the report acknowledges the “remarkable transformation”. They attribute this change to a clear and ambitious improvement plan, based on evidence of what was causing long-standing, inadequate practice in Torbay, together with a strong political and corporate commitment to the improvement agenda.

Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said “I am really pleased that Ofsted have recognised how far Torbay’s Children’s Services have come – it’s an achievement for the whole council and our partners. More importantly, the improvements are making a real difference to the lives of our children and young people.

“This joint political and corporate success has been made possible thanks to a dedicated workforce, the backing of all cabinet members and the whole council taking responsibility. We have shown our unwavering commitment to drive through the changes necessary.”

Nancy Meehan, Director Children’s Services at Torbay Council, said “This report pays testament to the passion and dedication of our workforce. It’s wonderful for our staff, partners, children, families and young people to be told that after many years of underperforming, Torbay Council is now considered ‘Good’ across all of the judgement areas.

“Our journey in becoming a more child and family friendly Torbay is starting to bear fruit. We are committed to driving through more improvements and will strive to become an ‘Outstanding’ authority so we can deliver the best possible opportunities for children, families and young people in our care and across the Bay.”

One factor that supported the improvements was the establishment of the Learning Academy which has been successful in both recruiting and retaining staff. This means that social workers are working with the right number of children, so they build stronger, more meaningful and constructive relationships.

Inspectors recognised that some of our most vulnerable and exploited children are being helped to talk about their experiences and express their views. Ofsted also noted a radical transformation and development of our Early Help Services which help reduce harm and promote children’s welfare by providing support before problems escalate.

Cllr Cordelia Law, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Torbay Council, said “We are thrilled to share the news with our community that we are now achieving good outcomes for children and young people in Torbay.

“However, we will not rest on our laurels. We will continue to build on these successful foundations to make further improvements across all our services, such as driving up the quality of services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This ‘Good’ rating shows that we have the foundations, determination and ability to make the improvements required.

“With strong strategic partnerships and effective communication channels in place, we will continue to work hard to build a Torbay where all children can thrive.”



Notes to Editors:

     1. A link to the report will be available on our website when it is published torbay.gov.uk/ofsted-reports

     2. Some of the strengths identified in the report include:

  • The local authority was recognised as a “highly ambitious corporate parent”, which is the result of effective partnerships built on a strong political and corporate commitment.
  • Inspectors highlighted that the Director of Children’s Services, political leaders and the council’s Chief Executive have worked assiduously over the past two years, transforming the quality of help, protection and care for their vulnerable children. A clear and ambitious improvement plan and associated sufficiency strategy, underpinned by a ‘root and branch’ analysis, have addressed the long-standing history of inadequate practice in Torbay. The services that children now receive are consistently effective.
  • The radical transformation and development of Early Help Services means that children and families in Torbay benefit from responsive, well-coordinated, universal and targeted support to help reduce harm and promote children’s welfare.
  • The in-house Learning Academy was recognised to have made a major contribution to the highly successful recruitment and retention of staff, as well as to the increased skills base of the workforce.
  • A highly effective approach to recruitment and retention has enabled the creation of a more stable permanent workforce. As a result, the number of children and families they are working with is more manageable enabling stronger and more constructive relationships to be built.
  • A muti-agency approach with clear and well-established systems provides timely and effective management oversight of referrals. This was described as a “significant improvement” since Ofsted’s last inspection.
  • The report noted that a ‘team around the family’ model delivers a holistic, multi-agency perspective on families’ needs. It recognised that this was starting to make a real difference to children’s day-to-day lives.
  • Social workers were acknowledged as working hard to build meaningful relationships, ensuring that children’s voices are heard and that their views are informing planning.
  1. Areas for improvement identified in the report include:
  • Having greater oversight of arrangements when care leavers move in and out of temporary accommodation.
  • Increasing the focus on reading in personal education plans.
  • Improving further the quality of planning for some children in need.
  • Increasing the frequency and quality of management oversight.

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