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Retiring children's home manager leaves on a high following eighth successive Outstanding Ofsted

A St Helens Borough Council-run facility which provides short-stay respite for children and young people with complex health, learning and social communication needs has come in for high praise after receiving an eighth consecutive Outstanding Ofsted report.

Abbeyford

Article date: 22 March 2024

Abbeyford Children's Home on Dentons Green Road, Windle, was awarded the highest possible rating from the government watchdog for education and children's services, scoring Outstanding across the board in all three main inspection areas following a visit in February this year.

Key findings under the overall experiences and progress of children and young people found that service users are exceptionally well cared for, with children and young people new to the home made to feel welcome - and opportunities to enjoy experiences which they may not otherwise be able to have.

Elsewhere in the glowing report, it was noted how well children and young people are helped and protected, receiving high levels of close care from staff - while upgraded sensory equipment and new jacuzzi baths help provide a safe place to relax and unwind.

In addition, the inspector was full of praise for management, described as 'positive role models for the children and the team' who have an ambitious vision for what the children can achieve. Outgoing manager, Paul Spencer, has successfully created a culture in which staff place the needs of children at the heart of their practice and aspires to improve the lives of the children who stay at Abbeyford.

Writing in her report, social care inspector, Katie Tomlinson, commented how the service is held in high regard by families, social workers and other professionals who all report that the care and support provided at Abbeyford is child-focused - with an ethos to provide a warm, welcoming environment that supports and promotes positive outcomes.

Speaking of his pride, Paul Spencer, who retires this month as registered manager, having taken Abbeyford from Inadequate to an Outstanding-rated service on multiple occasions during his 12-years at the helm, said:

"We've established such a motivated and inspirational team of staff here who, together with the continued support of parents and carers of the children and young people who attend Abbeyford, are without doubt the key to this success. 

"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here and am proud of what we've managed to consistently achieve. Our attitude is to never get complacent and I'm confident under the new leadership that Abbeyford will continue to offer an outstanding, quality service for years to come for the people in our communities that depend on such a vital service."

Passing on her congratulations, St Helens Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Nova Charlton, said:  

"The report is testimony to the dedicated team who go above and beyond to ensure the children and young people in their care receive positive and rewarding experiences during their time there. As soon as you walk through the door, you get a sense of how wonderful a place it is from the warm and welcoming staff led by Paul who will be greatly missed, and I thank him for his years of dedicated service.

"As a council that has successfully turned around the fortunes of its children's service, having gone from Inadequate to Good with Outstanding features, it's services like Abbeyford that really holds up a light as a shining example of what can be achieved as we strive to further improve our children's services as part of a key priority to ensure all children and young people have a positive start in life."