The team from OfSTED – the Office for Standards in Education – said the large majority of services, settings and institutions were found to be good or better.
"The local authority fostering and adoption agencies are good, as is much of the early years and childcare provision. Provision for children in council care has improved over the last year and now five of eight local authority homes are good," said their assessment.
Inspectors found a very large majority of the county's nursery and primary schools to be good. They said secondary schools and sixth forms do not do quite as well - apart from one sixth form college which was outstanding and another which was good. However, inspectors also reported that "Standards continue to rise in secondary schools and by the age of 16 more than half of young people gain five or more good grades at GCSE – this is better than elsewhere. Those from most minority ethnic groups often do well," they added.
They praised three out of the county's four pupil referral units, but said the fourth – which was judged as inadequate in 2009 – was not improving quickly enough.
The assessment found that parents of disabled children showed higher than average levels of satisfaction with local health services. Cambridgeshire has a low rate of teenage conceptions, and the number of young women under the age of 18 who become pregnant is falling at a faster rate than nationally," it added.
Safeguarding was also praised – inspectors said ongoing improvements to safeguarding arrangements and service delivery had impacted positively on outcomes for children and young people. There are strengths in the arrangements for ensuring that children are safe within their communities.
"A recent safeguarding inspection reported that political and managerial leadership demonstrate good ambition and commitment to service improvement," they said.
Inspectors also said child carers, nurseries, secondary schools and colleges were good at helping children and young people do well and enjoy their learning.
The assessment said the number of students achieving good qualifications is similar to elsewhere, but noted that young people from low-income families do not do as well at the age of 19.
"Almost all outcomes for children and young people are good or improving," the assessment concluded.
The County Council was encouraged to support secondary schools to improve so that more are good or better, and to increase the number of children from low-income families who attain nationally expected levels at 11 and higher level qualifications when they are 19.
Cambridgeshire County Council said it was pleased and encouraged by this assessment. It recognises the considerable efforts of all those involved in seeking to secure the best outcomes for children and young people in Cambridgeshire. It acknowledges our many strengths and reflects our own previously identified priorities. It reaffirms our own judgement of where we are strong and the areas where we could improve.
Contributed by John Reynolds
John Reynolds is the County Councillor for Bar Hill – he can be contacted at:
4 Bar Hill
T 01954 200571