Headlines: April 7th, 2009

Four reports published today by OFSTED highlight the positive difference that good staff can make to the quality of life of children in care. The reports look at the views and experiences of young people in residential settings, including secure care, children’s homes, special schools and residential further education.

Producing the four reports involved asking children and young people questions covering what they most and least liked about their residential setting, their perceptions of safety and dangers and asked them for their advice on the nature of future settings. Roger Morgan, the Children’s Rights Director for England said: “For those making decisions about young people’s lives, and for young people being placed for the first time, I hope the reports will give a fair picture of what life is like in different kinds of residential settings”.

The reports found that as well as the role of staff, the young people rated relationships with others as having a significant role in whether living in a residential setting was a good or bad experience. Having their own room was commonly quoted as a ‘best thing’ as was getting involved in activities.

For many of the young people who were questioned the worst things were missing their family and friends, the rules and restrictions, and the children and young people that they did not get on with. In secure care, the most common negative factor was the loss of freedom and being locked up but they felt safe in care.

Staff in all four settings were reported to be effective in dealing with bullying and using different approaches to prevent it. Staff were also seen as playing a key role in education. In children’s homes, staff helped with home work, made sure they were at school, attended parent’s evenings, and liaised with schools about children’s progress.