Following Ofsted’s Inspection of Children’s Social Care Services from the 17 to 28 September 2018, the fifth of a series of Monitoring Visits took place on the 28 to 29 April 2021. The Director of Children’s Services will present a report on the monitoring visit (Document “D”)
The focus of the Monitoring Visit was around Children in Need and Child Protection.
The findings will be published by Ofsted on 4 June 2021. Until such a time, the letter remains under Embargo.
The Executive are asked to note the contents of the letter from OFSTED.
(Irfan Alam – 01274 432904)
Following Ofsted’s Inspection of Children’s Social Care Services from the 17 to 28 September 2018, the fifth of a series of Monitoring Visits took place on the 28 to 29 April 2021. The Strategic Director of Children’s Services presented a report on the monitoring visit (Document “D”).
The focus of the Monitoring Visit was around Children in Need and Child Protection. The findings were published by Ofsted on 4 June 2021.
The Children and Families Portfolio Holder thanked staff for their continued hard work during the Covid19 pandemic and for their motivation to deliver on the improvement journey. She added that the Council had allocated significant resources to support the improvement journey recommended by Ofsted. She recognised that there was still a lot to do and at speed. She added that Early Help and the recruitment and retention of social workers was a priority for which there was a clear plan going forward which had been discussed in detail and in depth.
The Strategic Director of Children’s Services stated that the Ofsted visit was welcomed and the comments were balanced. A number of areas had been identified where improvements were being made while not shying away from areas where change was needed. He outlined the strengths identified while still acknowledging that there were challenges around the rate of improvement. In particular, he highlighted that positive practice in relation to section 47 enquiries had been maintained; recruitment to all levels of management had been successful; assessments were proportionate and included the child’s voice; when risks escalated intervention was timely; children were seen as integral to that process; additional investment had been made and level 3 social workers were being employed on 12 month contracts which was having impact on service delivery; children had continued to be seen during the Covid19 pandemic. He added that the churn in level 3 social workers was still an issue and work was ongoing to stabilise this. He noted that demand during Covid 19 had increased by 30% and that 2,400 children were open to the service during the period of the visit.
He was satisfied that the challenges were known and a clear improvement plan was in place. It was anticipated that the next visit would be in August and would focus on children in care and care leavers.
The Leader referred to the unprecedented year due to the Covid19 pandemic and appreciated the difficulties faced by staff. She added that there was a need to make improvements at a faster pace and increase the recruitment of level 3 social workers.
The Opposition Group Leader expressed concern that the pace of improvement was not quick enough and questioned the rate of improvement after 3 years from the original Ofsted judgement. She asked whether there were any issues hindering the development and training of existing staff to reach level 3 social worker.
The Strategic Director responded that measuring the progress from where the authority was in 2018, it was where it was expected to be. He added that the Covid 19 pandemic had meant that staff had to work remotely which was challenging and had affected training. He was confident that progress should accelerate coming out of lockdown, although he added that Ofsted would not accept the pandemic as a reason for lack of progress.
That the contents of the letter from OFSTED following the monitoring visit 28-29 April be noted.
ACTION: Strategic Director of Children’s Services