One of the best parts of my role as leader of the council is meeting the frontline staff who do such a magnificent job for residents in Swindon.

Much of that work goes unseen, which is why I often refer to them as unsung heroes – for that is exactly what they are.

This week that has come into focus within our children’s services department, so I was especially pleased on Monday to meet with staff and share the fantastic news that Ofsted had judged them to be providing the children and families of Swindon with a ‘good’ service.

For the last two years, cabinet colleagues have seen this ‘improvement journey’. The Ofsted report, following a two-week inspection last month, is certainly validation that we are heading in the right direction.

The last time Ofsted carried out a full inspection of children’s services in Swindon was five years ago and a grading of ‘requires improvement’ was handed out.

Over the next few years the number of children in care rose by a third, putting us above the national average and those of comparable local authorities.

Caseload levels were 50 per cent higher than expected within the Assessment and Child Protection Team, which put pressure on management oversight and accountability, the quality of practice and budgets.

It was clear that something had to be done and so, just under two years ago, our newly appointed corporate director for children’s services, David Haley, implemented a relentless programme of improvement under the initial watch of former cabinet member for children’s services Fionuala Foley and, more recently, current cabinet member Coun Mary Martin.

In its latest report, Ofsted recognised the great leadership within the team as a strength and also recognised the positive impact that our Early Help Hub is making for children and families and how we have reduced the number of children and families needing statutory support, which is a really great outcome.

It was also extremely pleasing Ofsted noted the roles cabinet and our chief executive, Susie Kemp, have played in the rapid rate of improvement.

Staff morale within the team has been lifted and we are investing money in our staff, both permanent and locum, through the creation of our Social Worker Academy.

But despite the marked improvements that have been made, we don’t intend to stand still and we know there is still work to be done for children in care and care leavers.

We also need to ensure that the good practice we have brought in, is embedded in everything we do.

We have made a great start on our journey and are ambitious to do a lot more to ensure that children and families in Swindon have access to the high quality of service that they deserve.