Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Highly effective leaders with true commitment to partnership working lead to better outcomes for children and young people

Strong partnership working across agencies, led by highly effective leaders with commitment and drive, can bring real change and improvement for children and young people in their area, finds Ofsted in its latest report published today.

Improving outcomes for children and young people through partnership in Children’s Trusts is a small-scale survey of six local authorities evaluating the impact of Children’s Trusts on improving the lives of children and young people, particularly those whose circumstances made them potentially vulnerable. The report identifies best practice and provides detailed case studies of effective partnership work within the six Children’s Trusts.

The report found partnership working was well-established before the creation of the Children’s Trusts. This was important – board members in five of the trusts stressed that the necessary relationships within the partnerships had taken considerable time to grow.

Board members were not convinced that making Children’s Trusts a legal requirement would produce effective partnerships more quickly. The key was winning hearts and minds to create a culture that promoted working together towards common ends.

Commenting on the report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert, said:

'This report illustrates how effective partnership can improve the outcomes for children and young people.

'In these six areas, partnership working was well-established before the Trust was created, so working as a Children’s Trust was a natural evolution of what was already in place. The glue that held these partnerships together was the commitment of those leading them, who were highly influential in driving improvement and setting the strategic direction.'

As well as effective leadership, the report identified other key features that contributed to better outcomes for children and young people. The six local authorities had clear plans for children and young people in their area with a strong focus on prevention and early intervention, and services designed around the needs of children and their families. Self-evaluation was robust and measurement of impact and outcomes went beyond using established performance indicators. All six authorities had made substantial progress in developing policy and practice, establishing effective frameworks for coordinating the work of partners and arrangements for governance.

In Kensington and Chelsea’s Children’s Trust, preventative work with teenage parents aged from 13 to 19 was effective in building confidence and aspiration in young mothers. Run by the Connexions service, the programme with two drop-in centres hosted professionals from up to 11 partner organisations, including health, housing, further education, victim support and children’s information services. The aim was to re-engage young people in education, employment and training and to prevent second pregnancies. One young mother best summed up the impact of the programme: 'I’m the result of this project at its best. I’ve qualified as a youth worker and now work part-time. I love it – it’s turned my life around. Tell them that!'

Notes for Editors

1. The ‘Improving outcomes for children and young people through partnership in Children’s Trusts’ report is available on Ofsted website at www.ofsted.gov.uk/publications/090234.

2. A Children’s Trust is not an entity in itself but comprises all the arrangements and partnerships between organisations that have a role in improving outcomes for children and young people. Organisations that are required to cooperate in the arrangements that are the ‘Children’s Trust’ are termed ‘statutory partners’ and include the services of the local authority, the primary care trust, the police, schools, further education and sixth-form colleges and Jobcentre Plus. Just as important are the non-statutory partners, for example, third sector organisations. They should be represented in the arrangements for Children’s Trusts in a way that best suits local circumstances. Each organisation within the partnership retains its own functions and responsibilities.

3. Inspectors visited six local authorities during the autumn 2009 and spring 2010 and held initial discussions with members of the Children’s Trust. A further visit to each local authority was made between November 2009 and may 2010 to observe the work of front-line services that engaged directly with children and young people.

4. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

5. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6617 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359

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