Inspectors praise improvements to services


Effective improvements to the quality of support for young people leaving care in Blackburn with Darwen have been highlighted in feedback from Ofsted inspectors, published on Friday 24 May 2024.  

The visit from Ofsted inspectors took place on 23 and 24 April 2024.

Inspectors looked at the Council’s arrangements for care leavers aged 18 to 25 with a particular focus on:

  • the quality of planning for care leavers over the age of 18 years
  • the identification and provision of support for care leavers, to include their health and education needs, and to obtain accommodation appropriate to their needs
  • the offer available for care leavers and their knowledge of this
  • the quality of management oversight and supervision.

Inspectors found that the Council has invested in improving the offer to care leavers. Suitable systems and processes help leaders within the authority to fully understand the experiences of young people leaving care.

Robust plans are in place to support care leavers across education and training, physical and mental health, and developing their independence, to help them achieve their aspirations.

The Ofsted feedback also highlights the strong trusting relationships that personal advisors have with each of the care leavers they support, with the ability to have meaningful and, where necessary, difficult discussions.

Inspectors also commented on the arrangements in place with partner agencies to support the most vulnerable young people as they leave care, ensuring that any risks to them are mitigated.

Inspectors also praised the involvement of care leavers themselves in making improvements to the service, which they deemed supports them to achieve their best outcomes.

Suggesting improvements to further drive up the quality of the leaving care service, inspectors highlighted how pathway plans should be completed in appropriate timeframes to reflect any changes in young people’s circumstances, and paying attention to the frequency of visits to care leavers. Further work can be done to improve how learning from audits is recorded to improve practice and also impact on the young people themselves.

Councillor Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, commented:

"I’m incredibly proud of our teams who support our young people leaving care. Their work is integral to our corporate mission of supporting all the borough’s children and young people to have opportunities to fulfil their potential.

This focused visit has recognised all the hard work and the commitment that our Leaving Care team has for our children and young people. I’m really pleased with the findings."

Jo Siddle, Strategic Director for Children and Education, said:

"Children’s Services are on an improvement journey, and we take on board all the feedback from the inspectors.

We were ready for this visit, having made improvements to our service for care leavers in Blackburn with Darwen. I’m proud of our Leaving Care team, who viewed the focused visit from Ofsted as a learning opportunity, and these latest findings show the good progress that we have made.

It highlights the difference we are making to our care leavers through the service that they receive from us, so that they get the quality support that they truly deserve.

I also want to say thank you to the care leavers who have helped us to transform our service. They told us what we needed to do to improve the service, and I’m so grateful to them for their part in the transformation."

The Ofsted letter sharing findings from the focused visit to Blackburn with Darwen Council’s leaving care services is available on the Ofsted website.