WillisPalmer launches Remote Assessment Service

WillisPalmer have launched a Remote Assessment Service to deliver social work assessments safely during COVID pandemic.

Read more
Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Better understanding of frontline practice at Sandwell

Senior leaders at Sandwell Children's Trust have developed a greater understanding of frontline practice, Ofsted has said.

A focus on service delivery, interrogation of performance information and audits has led to the better understanding of frontline practice, Ofsted said following the fourth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in January 2018.

"However, more needs to be done to develop the quality and consistency of audits and to understand the impact on children’s outcomes. Progress against the improvement plan has been maintained. Given the size of the task, improvements are incremental and there remains a lot still to do," said the report.

The number of children in care in Sandwell has risen by 20% since the inspection in 2017 and is at the highest level ever experienced by the local authority and the Trust. The Trust has analysed this large number and attributes it to delays in some children exiting care.

The rise has also been attributed to the Trust having to quickly escalate cases which had drifted due to a legacy of poor practice. This was done shortly after the Trust’s inception.
Sandwell Children’s Trust has continued to attract and retain staff and the overall number of permanent staff has increased to 69%, which means that there are now more permanent and experienced staff to manage complex cases.

Inspectors reviewed the progress made in services for children who are subject to care proceedings and children in care.

They found:

- Senior managers and leaders continue to develop their understanding of practice through quality assurance processes and direct involvement in services.

- The social workers talked to all spoke positively about working for Sandwell Children’s Trust. All reported that they receive good support from their managers.

- Supervision is held on a regular basis, with staff stating that they find it helpful and supportive.

- Senior managers understand the need to reduce the numbers of children in care where this is in the children’s interest.

- The voices and experiences of children are beginning to be reflected in some case recording and through the completion of direct work.

- The setting up of a court team has had a positive impact for those children in court proceedings.

- Children’s records evidence a clear focus on ensuring that proceedings are supported by good assessments and care planning in a timely manner.

- There is a greater strategic focus on progressing plans for children in care.

However, caseloads for some social workers remain well above the Trust’s maximum target of 18 cases. Some staff commented that this impacted on their ability to complete specific pieces of work, such as life-story work.

Also, some frontline managers are overly optimistic in some audit outcomes. Not all staff understand the elements of good practice, as evidenced by the moderation process and downgrading of some judgements. Further work is required to ensure consistency of approach in the auditing of work and moving towards a common understanding of practice quality. Audits in general are focused on social work processes and do not gauge the impact of practice and decisions made in respect of the child.

Life-story book work has either not been started or not been completed for children who have been looked after for several years. This means that these children may not understand the reasons why they are in care.

While there is greater strategic focus on progressing plans for children in care, many children continue to experience drift and delay. There remains continued drift and delay in current cases even where there has been recent management oversight.

The quality and timeliness of children’s care plans are inconsistent. Those that are more effective include clear actions and timescales that focus on good outcomes for children but the weaker plans lack a focus for progress or swift action by social workers.

"Sandwell Children’s Trust has demonstrated that it has made some improvements from a low base to the quality of social work practice since the last inspection. Further work remains to be done to ensure that practice is consistently good and that the best outcomes for all children are achieved," the report concluded.

Monitoring visit of Sandwell Children’s Trust

Knowledge & Resources

Keep abreast of the latest news in the children's services sector.

Referrals to children’s services rise following first lockdown

30/11/2020

More than 600 vulnerable children a day were referred to local authorities’ children’s services in the months following the first lockdown, it has emerged.

The County Councils Network reported that 630 young people a day were referred to children’s services in the months after the first lockdown, which began in March 2020, as local authorities reported [...]

Read Full Story

More court days for family cases this year despite restrictions

26/11/2020

There have been more court sitting days taking place on family cases this year than in any previous year, despite the lockdown, the president of the family courts division has said.

In his ‘View from the Chambers,’ Andrew McFarlane said this level of activity is necessary as it is not possible to conduct as many cases [...]

Read Full Story

Half of Youth Offending Services require improvement

25/11/2020

Improvements are required in more than half of the Youth Offending Services inspected this year, according to the HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Of the 16 Youth Offending Services inspected, eight required improvement while one, Cardiff, was rated inadequate.

Chief Inspector Justin Russell said: “It is disappointing that the overall quality of the youth offending services we have [...]

Read Full Story
Children First is an online resource for professionals working with children presented by WillisPalmer, providing you with the latest news, features and interviews.
Subscribe Today
Delivering a diverse, reliable range of services to children and their families across the UK
D1, Parkside, Knowledge Gateway, Nesfield Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 3ZL
Contact Us
closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram