The report of the Strategic Director Children’s Services(Document “K”) will provide the Committee with a progress update in respect of improvements identified within the Ofsted Improvement Plan, namely:
1. Ofsted October 2019 monitoring visit outcome, progress and continued challenge.
2. Programme approach, planning and identified projects in Phase One for innovation and improvement.
That this Committee notes the contents of Document “K”.
(Irfan Alam – 01274432904)
PROGRESS UPDATE FOLLOWING OFSTED INSPECTION OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES CHILDREN’S SERVICES (ILACS) – OFSTED MONOTORING VISIT PREPARATION, PROGRESS AND CONTINUED CHALLENGE
The report of the Strategic Director of
Children’s Services (Document
provided the Committee with a progress update in respect of improvements identified within the Ofsted Improvement Plan, namely:
Ofsted monitoring visit preparation, progress and continued challenge.
Members were also given feedback from the Ofsted October 2019 monitoring visit, along with the planning and identified projects in Phase One for innovation and improvement.
The Strategic Director of Children’s Services informed members that Bradford’s third Ofsted Monitoring Visit took place on the 16 and 17 October 2019, with the focus of the visit being on Children who are subject of a child protection plan, those subject to the Public Law Outline process and children who were at the edge of care.
Members were informed that the third Ofsted Monitoring Visit stated that Children’s Services were making progress in some areas, but with many areas that still needed improvement. A key outcome that Ofsted found was that changes have not happened quickly enough.
In response to members questions about what the key challenges were moving forward, it was reported that the key challenges included preparing all documents and strategies, maintaining the basic core practices, ensuring that interventions were correct and supporting the children of the District. In addition, officers highlighted that working with partners, to ensure that children received help sooner was also a key challenge.
Members were keen to understand the level of progress in making the required improvements. In response, officers indicated that the basic foundations were in place along with the management team, to drive improvements over the coming months. Furthermore, following a meeting with the Quality Assurance Inspectors, officers were informed that there had been good use of performance management, the strengthening of management arrangements and the service was now focusing on the right areas.
Moreover, members expressed their concerns about the high levels of agency staff being used, their cost and quality and questioned officers in the approach being used to reduce the over reliance on agency staff. Officers indicated that they had now put in robust recruitment processes and were fast tracking applications. Members also learned that the applications of agency staff who were keen to become permanent staff, were also being fast tracked.
Officers also stated that the key features which staff were seeking included improved supervision and better training and managed caseloads.
There was concern amongst members in relation to the areas of improvement identified in the OFSTED letter, specifically relating to the capacity and competence of staff to undertake their roles. In addition to this, members also stated that as the service was 15 months into the improvement programme; basic areas such as qualified practitioners being able to deliver core and fundamental tasks, were still not being done.
Officers replied by informing members that whilst ensuring that consistency of practice was difficult, they were strengthening core practices and staff now had clear expectations of what was required.
Continuing with the areas of improvement identified highlighted in the OFSTED letter, several members raised concerns regarding the issue of Social Workers failing to see basic improvements in children’s lives. Members stated that officers needed to find ways of listening more sensitively to what children were saying. Members wanted to learn what changes officers would be pursuing to Social Worker practices.
Officers responded by saying that OFTSED did identify good work being undertaken, but not across the whole of the District. Good work was being carried out in areas which had stable and robust management arrangements in place. It was imperative that Social Workers were given the assessment tools and standards. It was stated that this could not be achieved quickly, but plans were in place to deliver these improvements.
There was considerable discussion amongst members, in relation to how the Improvement Plan should be considered at future meetings of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny. Whilst members accepted it was important to keep an overview of the Improvement Plan, members stated that in future it would be more productive to scrutinise specific aspects of the Improvement Plan.
That this Committee requests an overview and more focused reports to be presented on key aspects of the improvement plan, starting with Children’s Social Care Contact and other areas such as:
- Children’s Social Care Referrals;
- Rate of Children subject to a Child Protection Plan;
- Length of time on Child Protection Plans;
- Trends in the number of looked after children number and comparison with other authorities;
- percentage visits completed on time.
ACTION: Strategic Director of Children’s Services