‘Outstanding’ leadership and ‘good’ overall Ofsted judgements brought about by fundamental shift in approach to Children’s Services

Published Thursday, 17 January 2019

Full Council, last night (16 January), applauded Cllr Fortune as he described the borough’s remarkable turnaround in Children’s Services in such a short space of time.

“There has been a fundamental shift to the council’s intrinsic raison d’etre, Cllr Fortune, Executive Member for Children and Families said. “The team has re-engaged with partners, embraced challenge, earned back trust and now acts on the voices of children and families who look to us for leadership and support.

“I am absolutely delighted to report Ofsted’s judgement is now ‘good with the impact of leaders judged ‘outstanding’. To travel from where Bromley was in 2016 – judged inadequate by Ofsted – to ‘good’ within two years, bypassing the more natural progression through ‘requires improvement’, is something no other local authority has achieved in such a short period of time.”

He told those assembled that a root and branch assessment of the council’s approach was carried out to rebuild the services, recruit new leaders, invest in the infrastructure, modernise technology and focus on people. Ade Adetosoye OBE, now Interim Chief Executive, joined the authority and laid the tracks for the ‘Journey to Excellence’ using his years of experience to establish a “new way of thinking and build a wonderful team.” 

“Watching what these incredible people do day-in-day out is both moving and humbling,” said Cllr Fortune.

“Keen never to ‘mark our own homework’,” he added, “we have been blessed to have external expertise from Isobel Cattermole, Chairman of the Improvement Board and Jim Gamble, Chairman of the Children’s Safeguarding Board.  The Department for Education deployed a formidable yet fair Commissioner in Frankie Sulke who helped us focus the lens during the initial stages and has remained a friend to the borough ever since.”

Cllr Fortune told those assembled: “I believe that all sides of this chamber have stepped forward to be outstanding leaders for change. Without question we have a responsibility to be mindful of the borough’s financial position – tightly controlled budgets hang like the sword of Damocles over a demand-led service such as this. But I believe the economical use and stringent scrutiny of finance has led to a diligent and economically sensible use of funds. 

"The whole chamber will be pleased to hear that Ofsted found the local authority to be highly committed ‘corporate parents’ of Children Looked After. It described the improvements as palpable and the report says that children in care feel they are known. This is the point for which I, personally, feel the most emotion.”

In conclusion Cllr Fortune said: “It was not about fixing a service, it was fundamentally changing one. Our children, our carers, our families and our borough are now in a better place than before. And vitally, as the children have told us, they feel valued. That is what we are here for.”

Ends

Notes for Editors:

The full Ofsted report is available at https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/305

 Judgement Grade
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 and care leavers Good
Overall effectiveness Good