Inspectors gave the service an overall rating of ‘good’ but services for young people leaving care were rated as ‘outstanding.’ The other key areas including adoption performance, children who need help and protection and leadership management and governance were rated as ‘good.’
The results and detailed report of the inspection were published on Friday, 26 August 2016.
Inspectors acknowledged that the leader of the council, lead member for children’s services, chief executive and the executive director for children, adults and public health are “passionate and knowledgeable about issues for vulnerable children.”
They also described Ealing’s role as corporate parent to children in care as outstanding by showing “real passion, ambition and creativity to ensure that children reach their full potential.”
Inspectors said that staff conveyed “real passion and pride in their work and in the young people whom they serve.”
One 20-year-old care leaver told inspectors: “The workers are awesome. Nothing is too much trouble – they really get how I feel and how things don’t always work out for me.”
Inspectors commented that “care leavers gain independence skills, succeed and become role models, learning mentors and advocates for others.”
Twenty per cent of young care leavers in Ealing go on to university, compared to a national figure of just six per cent.
Ealing’s Horizons’ education and achievement centre for children and young people in care or who have recently left care was found to be “outstanding in assisting children to transform their lives and increase their knowledge and skills, aspirations and self-esteem.”
Among the other strengths highlighted by inspectors were the “positive and consistent relationships with children” built by social workers.
Support and training for foster carers was also praised. Adoption services are rated good with 'tenacious' staff pursuing adoption for children. Support to children, adopters and birth families after adoption was also highlighted as a strength.
Social workers told inspectors that they feel valued and well supported. High morale amongst staff was attributed to the working environment, manageable caseloads and effective management support. Inspectors said that staff in Ealing are 'proud' to work here.
The report also says that children are “well-protected by strong and effective partnership-working.”
Responding to the report, Councillor Binda Rai, cabinet member for children and families, said: “Protecting the most vulnerable children and families in Ealing and helping them to achieve as highly as possible is our priority. I am both proud and thrilled that the service’s dedication and professionalism have been recognised by Ofsted.
“I have seen for myself the wonderful professionalism of our staff to inspire and prepare young people for leaving care. This has had a hugely positive impact on their lives and it’s great that the inspectors have endorsed this. I would like to thank staff for their hard work and commitment to Ealing’s children. However, like our staff, I too recognise that there is always room for improvement and we are already looking at how we take on board the inspectors’ recommendations.”
Recommendations for improvement included increasing the number of foster carers, raising public awareness of private fostering and ensuring that all children are helped to understand their personal history which led to them becoming looked after.
Following a review of Ealing Safeguarding Children’s Board, which was carried out at the same time as the inspection, Ofsted has recommended that the board improves the way it monitors and reports on the work of the partnership. Strengths recognised by inspectors included the board’s work to tackle child sexual exploitation by focusing on the most vulnerable children. Giving young people a voice via the Young Ealing Safeguarding Board was described as a ‘significant strength.’
The full report is available on Ofsted's website.