The Government’s new Minister for children and families has used her first ever Ministerial visit to see Bromley Council’s Special Education Needs and Disabilities provision up close.

Vicky Ford called in at the council shortly after being appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education with responsibility for children and families in February.

The visit was hosted by Cllr Peter Fortune, the council’s deputy leader and executive member for children, education and families, who said it was an opportunity to showcase the council‘s SEND services, as well as visit some of the Bromley teams responsible for keeping the borough’s children safe.

During her visit, the new Minister was told about the authority’s emphasis on early years support through the borough’s children’s centres, which were described as “the jewel in Bromley’s crown” by education watchdog Ofsted in their most recent assessment last year.

The developments are the latest mark in the authority’s dramatic turnaround regarding children’s services, which were deemed inadequate by Ofsted in 2016.

According to Cllr Fortune, the Minister was particularly interested in a comprehensive book of early years’ services run by the council and the impact these have in nipping potential problems in the bud.

Following the visit, Cllr Fortune said: “I am delighted the Minister was able to pay a visit to Bromley to see for herself the incredible progress we have made in Children’s Services and SEND.  But we don’t stop here, but rather continue to drive our journey to excellence and, as the team told the Minister, we are not scared of the challenges; we remain ambitious for the futures for all our children.”

The Minister’s visit caps a heady month for the authority, whose Children’s Services department was shortlisted for the ‘best transformation team’ Award by leading public service improvement experts, iESE.

February also saw MP for Bromley and Chislehurst Bob Neill, who was recently appointed Chairman of the Justice Select Committee, attend the council’s Youth Offending Service (YOS).

Sir Bob met some of the young people being supported by YOS and heard directly about their experiences and what they were doing now, including gaining qualifications, with the intention of entering employment.