‘Huge efforts’ being made to turn around children’s home following damning inspection report

Date published: 31 March 2021

‘Huge efforts’ are being made to turn around a council-run children’s home following a damning inspection in January 2021.

The Rochdale home was barred from taking on any more youngsters after Ofsted found staff lacked the ‘skills and knowledge’ to keep them safe.

Officials reported that at-risk youngsters were regularly going missing from the facility – including those at risk of sexual exploitation – and often returned to a ‘chaotic environment’.

Council bosses pledged to make ‘the rapid improvements required’ at the home, which cares for up to six children with emotional or behavioural difficulties.

And, following a recent ‘monitoring visit’, Ofsted has now lifted the restriction notice, barring the home from taking on more children.

A report published by the watchdog this week suggests things are heading in the right direction.

It reads: “Managers and staff are making huge efforts to implement a more consistent, child-focused culture in the home.

“Staff have recognised that building relationships with the children is a priority. The inspector saw children engaging positively with staff throughout the day.”

The report also notes that several areas of the home have since been decorated and refurnished.

Children’s bedrooms were also being decorated and personalised and – unlike during the previous visit – cleaned and tidied regularly. 

Youngsters had a big say in the refurbishment and the report notes they are now ‘more invested’ in the home.

Children spoke approvingly about the changes that had been made since Ofsted visited in January.

These included staff waking children earlier for home-schooling, helping to tidy bedrooms and following children if they leave the home without authorisation. 

Staff have also undertaken further training to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the children in their care.

Risk management plans provided to staff have resulted in children not going missing from home for almost a month.

Ofsted says it is ‘clear’ that changes made at the homes are beginning to have a positive impact on children. 

One social worker quoted in the report said: ‘I definitely feel progress has been made.

“There is better communication now. The staff make so much more effort to encourage [name of child] not to go missing. I feel things are much better.’

Rochdale council has responded to the report.

A spokesperson said: “We’ve made the changes required and we’re pleased that Ofsted have seen the efforts staff have made to progress our improvement plan.

“This was recognised by the inspector and has resulted in the removal of the compliance notice and restriction on admissions. For us what really matters is the children and the progress they are making.

“Ofsted say that it is clear the changes made are having a positive impact on the children and this is exactly what we want to see. We’re moving forward in the right direction and the outcome and experiences of our young people is at the heart of everything we do.”

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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