South Scotland

Scottish Borders children's services improve 'steadily'

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

They were rated "very good" in one key indicator with four others found to be "good" and the remainder "adequate'.

The inspection, led by the Care Inspectorate, was carried out between December 2015 and February this year.

It found outcomes for most children were "steadily improving" throughout the region.

Inspectors found a "notable cultural change across the school estate with greater inclusion and rising attainment for most children".

"Most staff recognised when something was getting in the way of the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person," they added.

"Where there was a risk of immediate significant harm, staff acted promptly to secure the safety of the child."

Among the strengths they noted were flexible support provided for vulnerable pregnant women and their partners and a culture of "engaging with young people" to develop services.

'Significant steps'

Inspectors said progress on some long-standing improvements had been "slow" but a recently formed Children and Young People's Leadership Group was speeding that up.

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."

She said they had seen "positive examples" of how children and young people in need of protection were "successfully identified and their safety prioritised".

However, she stressed more work was needed to ensure that staff were "alert to situations where, over time, children's wellbeing may be compromised".

Among the recommendations made were that decisions about child safety should take on board "information from all partners" including staff who had frequent contact with the child as well as family who knew them well.

Local reaction

Councillor David Parker, who chairs the Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership, said: "An inspection like this is always an opportunity to receive feedback on what could be done better. It is part of our commitment to the children and young people of the Scottish Borders to continually look at ways we can improve the services we provide for them so implementing the recommendations that the Care Inspectorate have set out in their report is now a priority for us."

John Raine, NHS Borders chairman, said: "NHS Borders welcomes the findings detailed in the report. This report provides us with an independent view to help us identify areas for improvement within our children and young people services while equally commending the positive work happening in the Borders."

Det Ch Insp John Peaston, of Police Scotland, said: "We also welcome the findings of this inspection for providing an independent assessment of the services provided to children and young people and their families across the Scottish Borders. We acknowledge those areas identified within the recommendations and will work in partnership to ensure that these are progressed in order to provide the best of services to the communities of the Scottish Borders."

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