Children at the Atkinson Secure Children’s Home in Exeter ‘continue to benefit from good-quality care from staff, who are attentive and familiar with their needs’.
That’s the conclusion of Government Ofsted inspectors following their visit in November.
In their report every area, including the experiences and progress of children, the quality of their care, their safety, and the effectiveness of the management, was once again rated as ‘Good’.
It’s the seventh year in a row that inspectors have rated the home as ‘Good’: “Managers are ambitious and have high aspirations for children,” they said. “They are deeply committed to improving children’s life chances.”
The Atkinson Secure Children’s Home is registered to accommodate up to eight young people at any one time. It’s one of very few secure children’s homes in the country, and children are placed there by local authorities across England.
The young people in Atkinson’s care have generally experienced trauma within the home environment and also often within the community. Such experiences mean that they’re at significantly higher risk of school exclusion, exploitation, mental health difficulties and substance misuse.
The report adds: “Children develop positive relationships with staff and make good progress… (and the) direct work, which reflects children’s individual needs and personal circumstances, supports children to become increasingly safe.”
It says that Atkinson ‘is well maintained’ to ensure that it is as comfortable and homely as possible and has a ‘well-planned’ mobility programme which gives children opportunities to demonstrate that they are ready to spend increasing amounts of time in the community.
They have access to a wide range of activities, which allows them to fully explore their talents and interests.
“The processes that are followed when children move in to and out of the home are thorough and thoughtful…. managers work closely with other professionals to create plans to ensure that children have the support they need.”
And when concerns do arise inspectors found that managers received ‘effective support’ from senior leaders and take swift and decisive action to ensure the safety of children.
There is an embedded culture of ‘welcoming feedback’ about the service which is seen as an opportunity to learn, reflect and improve – all learning from incidents are ‘shared with the whole staff team.’
Inspectors also found that children are treated with ‘dignity and respect’ and their views are ‘valued’.
Regular meetings are held with children, and they influence decisions about the day-to-day running of the home, and managers work closely with other professionals to create plans to ensure that children have the support they need.
However, inspectors said that records of these meetings could be improved to ensure that when requests cannot be met, children receive clear feedback about why this is the case.
Councillor Andrew Leadbetter is our Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children’s Services, which includes the children’s home. He said:
“I am pleased to say that yet again inspectors gave the Atkinson Secure Children’s Home another positive report.
“I’m pleased that Inspector’s found that the children’s progress and outcomes remained good which is in no small part due to work of the staff who are deeply committed to ensuring to improving children’s life chances.
“There is a good relationship between leaders, management and staff and between staff and children and this has resulted in the service continuing to improve.
“However, we recognise that there are areas where we can improve and the recommendations in this report are already being put into place.”
“Thank you to the staff and the Northbrook Managers for their continued support and dedication.”
Helen Bowkett is the manager of the home and she said:
“I am incredibly proud of the whole team at Atkinson, the integrated working between care, education and health and its “one team” approach is evident throughout our home.
“We will continue to work to make further improvements for the best outcomes for those children placed with us.”