A MANAGER is leaving a St Helens children's home on a high after achieving eight consecutive Outstanding Ofsted reports.

Joining the team at Abbeyford Children's Home 12 years ago, manager Paul Spencer has been praised by colleagues, councillors, and external inspectors after turning the home from an 'Inadequate' to an 'Outstanding' facility.

Based in Windle, Abbeyford is a council-run facility that provides short-stay respite for children and young people with complex needs, which often include health, learning, and social communication difficulties.

Because of the nature of these facilities, Ofsted undertakes a full inspection of all children's homes each year, with February's inspection leading to Abbeyford's eighth consecutive Outstanding report.

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St Helens Star: The Abbeyford team celebrating an Outstanding Ofsted report in 2023The Abbeyford team celebrating an Outstanding Ofsted report in 2023 (Image: St Helens Council)
Key findings in the Ofsted report found that the overall experiences and progress of children and young people are "exceptionally well cared for", with those new to the home made to feel welcome and enjoy experiences that they may not have otherwise been able to have.

Elsewhere in the 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, who were described as "positive role models for the children and the team" who have an ambitious vision for what the children can achieve.

Mr Spencer, who is now calling time on his 12 years at the helm, was noted to have successfully created a culture in which staff place the needs of children at the heart of their practice, with all aspiring to improve the lives of the children who stay at Abbeyford.

Writing in her report, social care inspector, Katie Tomlinson, also commented how the service is held in high regard by families, social workers, and other professionals.

The reports adds 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.

St Helens Star: Mr Spencer with children at an Abbeyford party last yearMr Spencer with children at an Abbeyford party last year (Image: St Helens Council)
Speaking of his pride in the eighth Outstanding report, Mr Spencer 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, is 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, added: “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.”