A secure children’s home in County Durham which provides high-quality, specialist accommodation for young people between the ages of 10 and 18 has retained its ‘Outstanding’ status following a recent inspection.
Durham County Council’s Aycliffe Secure Children’s Home, in Newton Aycliffe, looks after some of the most vulnerable young people, many of whom have complex problems and need intensive support to help them turn their lives around.
The centre provides secure accommodation for up to 38 young people, eight of whom are sentenced or remanded by the Youth Custody Service and 30 young people who are accommodated for their own or other safety under Section 25 of the Children’s Act 1989 and are commissioned by local authorities.
In April this year, Ofsted inspectors found that the actions of the home contribute to “significantly improved” outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people, its child-focused staff “go the extra mile”, and children are involved in their own care, adding that the young people feel safe at the home.
It means that the centre retains its rating after also being rated ‘Outstanding’ following its last full inspection in Autumn 2019.
Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, management have continued to make further improvements to the service in recent times.
A project has been set up to improve children’s sleep patterns, the Better Health at Work Award is being worked towards and a horticultural project is now underway.
The home has also started to implement the Enabling Environment project, a nationally recognised award that further builds on the therapeutic and trauma-informed culture of the home.
Teaching has not stopped at the centre throughout the past year, meaning children have experienced the full curriculum.
Youngsters have also enjoyed an hour of exercise every day, arranged virtual catch-ups with relatives online and last summer even managed to hold barbecues and arrange for a DJ to play in the car park.
The report reads: “There continues to be seamless partnership working between the care staff, health, and education teams.
“This provides the children with consistent and holistic care and has an extremely positive impact on the quality of care provided to the children.”
Ofsted inspectors also noted that the Secure Stairs framework, which addresses the needs of children and young people in secure children’s homes, is embedded throughout the centre.
Selwyn Morgans, Aycliffe Secure Services centre manager, said: “We are delighted to retain our ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted, which is testament to the hard work all of our superb staff and children have put in, despite the last year being made tougher by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our aim as always is to encourage and motivate every young person who comes through our doors and we will continue to do that.”
Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Congratulations to all at Aycliffe Secure Unit on this achievement. Ofsted inspectors have been glowing in their praise for the work that is going on there and staff and children alike should be very proud.
“A big well done to everyone involved.”