The story of Slough Children’s Services Trust

Our purpose and vision

Children are central to everything we do at Slough Children’s Services Trust. We believe that every child deserves to be safe, secure and successful and making this a reality is our vision. The Trust is an independent, not-for-profit company, on a journey to transform services and improve outcomes, while offering value for money.

Using innovative approaches, our staff work together to protect and improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and families across the borough. We believe we are well placed to provide high quality services and the best outcomes into the future.

Our background

The Secretary of State for Education decided the most effective and appropriate way of ensuring high quality services for children and families in Slough was to establish an independent company, Slough Children’s Services Trust, to deliver children’s social care services on behalf of Slough Borough Council.

This followed two separate ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted judgments, in 2011 and 2014, and an independent report by the Office for Public Management, which was asked to consider the best alternative governance arrangements for children’s social care services in Slough.

Slough Children's Services Trust was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in March 2015 and took on the delivery of Children's Services in Slough, under contract to Slough Borough Council, from 1 October 2015.

Establishing a Trust dealing with such complex services, in an extremely diverse area, where provision was already inadequate, was always going to be challenging, especially within a reality of increasing demand and decreasing resources.

Ofsted undertook a full inspection of the Trust services just a few weeks after the staff and services had transferred. The judgment was again that the services were inadequate. Ofsted has since inspected the Trust as a Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA) and Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) and both inspections provided evidence of significant improvement and outcomes for children with the former being judged as ‘Good’ and the latter as ‘Requires improvement to be good’. More recently the Trust has undergone a full inspection under the new ILACS scheme which finally led to the Trust no longer being judged as ‘Inadequate’. See link to Ofsted publications here

Our ‘whole’ approach

When it was formed, the Trust took an early decision to fundamentally transform how services are delivered to children and families, with the focus on securing long-term sustainable change for the future and incorporating a systemic ‘whole approach’ social work model. This model recognises the importance of the relationships which surround a child, while ensuring their voice remains at the centre of everything we do. With a proven track record, this model has delivered positive outcomes when used elsewhere, helping children and families, where possible, to become more resilient and find their own solutions.

Part of keeping the child at the centre of everything we do comes from engaging with them, as customers, and empowering them to shape their own services. We do this in a range of ways, including through Reach Out! - our council made up of children looked after.

Our leadership

The current membership of the Board comprises the chair, three non-executive directors and a SBC nominated non-executive director each of whom brings particular expertise to the Board. There are three executive directors on the Board, the chief executive, director of operations and the director of finances and resources, with other members of the executive team attending board meetings regularly. A representative from our partners in Thames Valley Police and East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group attend the Board as advisers and the director of children’s services at Slough Borough Council attends as an observer.

All non-executive directors are appointed by the chair who is required to consult with the Secretary of State before requesting the Board to approve the appointment.

The Board meets every two months and there are two sub-committees – audit and risk, and quality and practice improvement.

Our continuing journey of improvement

Whilst we celebrate and recognise our achievements, we are by no means complacent. We know there is a lot of work to do, to get to where we want to be – providing excellent services across the board to children and families.

We are constantly striving to improve systems, share best practice and continue learning, with a universal aim of delivering the best outcomes, while providing value for money in everything we do.

Our vision, as it was at the start, is to make sure that children in Slough are safe, secure and successful – it’s effective and it’s working.

About Slough

Slough is one of the most diverse places in the country outside of London and a great place to live or work. In fact it's the best place to live or work according to a survey by Glassdoor. Pleasant environments, above average salaries and a lower cost of living, mean an increased quality of life for employees. We're also one of the most accessible places to be, nestled on the corner of the M25, M4 and M40, and less than 20 minutes by train to Central London.