Outstanding in all areas – that is the verdict of inspectors from Ofsted on Aycliffe Secure Centre.
The Durham County Council facility, which provides a secure children’s home environment, has been given the outstanding judgement in all four areas assessed, building on its good rating at its previous two inspections.
The centre was judged to be ‘outstanding’ in terms of the overall experiences and progress of children and young people, based on how well they are helped and protected; their health; the effectiveness of leaders and managers; and outcomes in education and related learning activities.
Ofsted’s report states: “The children’s home provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the children’s home contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection and care.”
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “For a secure children’s home to be rated outstanding in all areas is extremely rare so everyone connected with Aycliffe is rightly delighted by and proud of this report.
“To have Ofsted recognise that the centre’s services consistently exceed the standards of good and that it contributes to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people is brilliant.
“Aycliffe could not have been judged outstanding in all areas without the hard work and enduring commitment of staff to supporting the young people in their care; and we are very grateful to them for this.”
The site at Newton Aycliffe provides high quality, specialist secure accommodation for up to 38 vulnerable 10 to 18 year olds.
Ofsted found staff at the centre, which it rated ‘good’ in both 2017 and 2018, use their good relationships with the young people to encourage them to engage with their support plans.
The report adds: “These help children to make considerable progress in all areas of their lives. For example, some children benefit from reduced custodial sentences as a direct result of the support and intervention programmes provided by the home.”
Ofsted also commented on how multi-agency working sees staff working together to decide how best to support young people.
The report continues: “This approach means that, over time, children’s unsafe and complex behaviours, such as self-harm, reduce and their self-esteem and confidence grow.”
It also talks about how, by being invited to take part in meetings, sessions and visits, young people are “empowered and encouraged to have a voice and to influence the development and running of the home.”
In terms of the education provided to young people at the centre, Ofsted noted how the standard of teaching allows them to “make exceptional progress academically” with “clear improvements” in achievement rates in English and mathematics and most children achieving an accredited award in vocational areas.
The report adds: “Children, often with a poor history of education, achieve more than they thought possible.”