A SECURE children's home in County Durham has been rated as "outstanding" for the first time.

Aycliffe Secure Centre, in Newton Aycliffe, which provides specialist, secure care for up to 38 children, was given the top rating in all areas by Ofsted.

Earlier this year, it emerged the home had made significant changes following investigations carried out by Ofsted and the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman after the death of 17-year-old Taylor Williams, who died by suicide in February 2017.

The Durham County Council run facility looks after children aged between 10-18 who are in the care or criminal justice systems and come from all over the country.

The Northern Echo:

Aycliffe Secure Centre

It is closely monitored by Ofsted, with inspectors visiting between two and four times a year and was rated as "good" in 2017 and 2018.

After visiting last month, inspectors praised staff for their work to keep children safe and understanding their vulnerabilities, as well as the relationships that were built with young people. Ofsted said children were empowered and had developed confidence and resilience.

It concluded: "The children’s home provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good.

"The actions of the children’s home contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people who need help, protection and care.

Councillor Olwyn Gunn, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “For a secure children’s home to be rated outstanding in all areas is extremely rare so everyone connected with Aycliffe is rightly delighted by and proud of this report.

“To have Ofsted recognise that the centre’s services consistently exceed the standards of good and that it contributes to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children and young people is brilliant.

“Aycliffe could not have been judged outstanding in all areas without the hard work and enduring commitment of staff to supporting the young people in their care; and we are very grateful to them for this.”