Delight as crucial service secures outstanding rating

Residents, staff and friends celebrate the 'outstanding' Ofsted report at Barndale Short Break Service.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Residents, staff and friends celebrate the 'outstanding' Ofsted report at Barndale Short Break Service.'Picture by Jane Coltman

An important facility which provides vital support to children with learning disabilities has secured a glittering Ofsted report.

Barndale Short Break Service (BSBS), in Alnwick, has been rated as outstanding in all areas, including its quality of care, safeguarding, leadership and management.

It is the second time that the centre has been awarded the highest category rating, following its success in November 2013.

Among the glowing remarks in the 2015 report, Ofsted states: “The service is of exceptional quality which significantly exceeds National Minimum standards.

“The young people living at the home enjoy outstanding outcomes from their care.”

BSBS is part of Northumberland County Council’s children’s services, managed through the Children’s Residential Care Portfolio.

Up to six children at a time can stay with the team, which provides weekend stays for youngsters from across Northumberland.

The young ones learn and develop skills, which promote their independence and also support the changes they are making in their everyday family life.

The children participate in a range of activities and are encouraged to build and maintain friendships.

Most young people attend BSBS for one weekend per month, however, patterns of stay and service levels vary to meet the needs of the children and their families.

In offering weekend breaks to children and young people, the service also offers positive breaks to parents and siblings.

Parents told Ofsted that BSBS was ‘invaluable’ and the staff teams value the young people as ‘individuals’. They added that the level of support offered is ‘amazing’.

One young person told Ofsted: “I want to thank the staff for helping me to become the person that I am today.”

Coun Anthony Murray, who supports BSBS with monthly visits on behalf of the county council, said: “The outstanding award is richly deserved. On my visits I never cease to be amazed by the dedication of our staff.”

BSBS utilises the residential accommodation of the town’s Barndale School. The BSBS has been open since June 2004, but the school has been running for more than 50 years.

The BSBS is aimed at young people who have a moderate to severe learning disability, and are aged between six and 17. It is unable to provide a service to those with a physical disability.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy member for children’s services, said: “I know how valued the support offered by Barndale is to those who use the service and their families.

“To achieve an outstanding grade is very special and a real tribute to the work of all who have made it possible.”

More details about the BSBS can be found at