An inspection of services for children and young people in the Borders has identified areas of good performance but also made recommendations for improvement.

The inspection was led by the Care Inspectorate working in partnership with Education Scotland, Healthcare Improvement Scotland and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland.

Inspectors looked at a wide range of services in the area between December 2015 and February 2016. The findings have been published today.

Across nine key indicators of performance, inspectors found one to be ‘very good,’ four to be ‘good’ and four were graded ‘adequate’.

In their report, inspectors said outcomes for most children and young people were steadily improving across the area and the leadership team in the Borders had demonstrated that it knows its local area well.

There had been “a notable cultural change across the school estate with greater inclusion and rising attainment for most children,” inspectors said, adding: “most staff recognised when something was getting in the way of the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person. Where there was a risk of immediate significant harm, staff acted promptly to secure the safety of the child.”

Particular strengths that were making a positive difference for children, young people and families included flexible support provided for vulnerable pregnant women and their partners and a culture of engaging with young people so that they could influence how services were developed.

Progress in taking forward some long-standing improvements had been slow but the recently formed Children and Young People’s Leadership Group was now helping to increase the pace of change.
Karen Reid, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “Outcomes for most children and young people are steadily improving. The current leadership team recognises where they need to take action to address existing inequalities and are now making significant steps to do so.

“Corporate parenting is a reality, with leaders expressing strong commitment to jointly improving the outcomes of all looked after children. We have seen positive examples of how children and young people in need of protection are successfully identified and their safety prioritised, but more work is needed to ensure that staff are equally alert to situations where, over time, children’s wellbeing may be compromised.

“We have made some recommendations for improvement which will enable partners to deliver even better outcomes for children, young people and their families. The current leadership team has shown an impressive commitment to making best use of the inspection findings and we are confident that the Scottish Borders partnership will be able to take our recommendations forward.”

Recommendations include that decisions about children’s safety and wellbeing should be informed by information from all partners, including staff who have frequent contact with the child and family and know them well.

Partners should also ensure that the Child Protection Committee and Critical Services Oversight Group work effectively together to respond to emerging risks to children and young people, including the risk of child sexual exploitation, and embed a stronger, clearer focus on outcomes for children and families in all quality assurance and self-evaluation.

The Care Inspectorate will now request that a joint action plan is provided which clearly details how the Scottish Borders Partnership will make improvements in the key areas identified by inspectors.

The Care Inspectorate and other bodies taking part in this inspection will continue to offer support for improvement through their linking arrangements. They will also monitor progress in taking forward the partnership’s joint action plan.

Notes to Editors

The report is available here: