Ofsted judges Southampton City Council Children’s Services "Good" with "Outstanding" leadership

Ofsted finds that all aspects of the service are now at a good level with a collective momentum to continue to improve

Group photo of Southampton Children's Services in front of the Civic Centre. Text: "Southampton Children's Services: Good with Outstanding Leadership". Logos for Ofsted, Child Friendly Southampton and Southampton City Council.

A three-week Ofsted full inspection of Southampton City Council’s Children’s Services has resulted in a rating of "Good", with the impact of leaders on social work practice judged as "Outstanding".

The results were as follows:

  • The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families: Outstanding
  • The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection: Good
  • The experiences and progress of children in care: Good
  • The experiences and progress of care leavers: Good
  • Overall effectiveness: Good

Inspectors described the leadership of the service as "impressive" and that this, together with political and corporate commitment, has provided the "clear vision, ambition and energy" that the service has needed to improve.

The inspection team, who spent three weeks in May and June this year speaking with over 100 children, staff, parents and partners, robustly analysed all aspects of council services for children in need in the city. They concluded that, "children in need of help and protection receive a timely and effective service". They said that social workers supporting children in care demonstrate "sensitivity and kindness", celebrating children’s achievements and providing "high-quality" support to care leavers through warm relationships and practical support. Inspectors praised the "holistic, high-quality service" provided to children with disabilities.

The report acknowledges the "highly effective recruitment throughout the service" that has resulted in an "almost fully permanent workforce" and said that leaders had lifted the morale of the service, "creating a culture in which staff work compassionately and collaboratively with families and partner agencies."

Rob Henderson, Executive Director of Wellbeing (Children and Learning) said,

“The report is such a great read. To be judged good by Ofsted after so many years of requiring improvement is a huge achievement. I am immensely proud of the diverse, generous and dedicated practitioners, foster carers, managers and partners who work so hard every day to safeguard and improve the lives of vulnerable children in the city.

"The culture within the service is now one of care, kindness and genuine learning and every member of the team has helped to build this. But we are not complacent. We have embraced the feedback from inspectors on the areas we need to focus on to improve further, and inspectors expressed confidence that we have the right plans and building blocks in place to continue to improve.”

Councillor Alex Winning, Cabinet Member for Children and Learning said,

“Receiving an Ofsted rating of ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ leadership is an extraordinary achievement. The transformation of the service, commitment of leadership, practitioners and everyone working for and on behalf of children and young people across our city has been rightfully recognised. Southampton City Council is now the employer of choice for practitioners across the region and I could not be happier about that. It’s important to celebrate success, however we will not become complacent and are always ambitious to continually improve. Well done to everyone involved!

"We have a small number of remaining social worker, psychologist and manager vacancies. If you are interested in joining us, we will offer you what Ofsted described as ‘thoughtfully commissioned’ and ‘widely available’ training and development opportunities and you will be supported by ‘energetic and responsive frontline managers who maintain clear, confident and close oversight of children’s progress."

See our current vacancies.

We are currently recruiting individuals and families from Southampton and across Hampshire who can provide short-term, long-term or emergency care for children who are unable to live with their own families. We will provide all the training and support you need.

If you would like to know more, visit fostering.