There have been continued improvements in the quality of practice for children in the London Borough of Sutton, despite senior leadership changes, Ofsted has said.
A recent restructure, leading to the integration of early help and children’s social care, with a strong focus on early intervention and prevention, is proving to be effective in reducing risks to children, the inspection found.
“Senior leaders and managers have a clear vision for their services and know what still needs to be improved,” said the report.
Inspectors evaluated the local authority's arrangements for the protection of vulnerable adolescents.
“Senior leaders have invested in workforce developments which are increasingly successful in attracting staff. Vacancy levels are reducing, and staff report that they enjoy working for the authority,” said the report.
“Caseloads are regularly monitored to identify pressure points, and staff report that they are mostly manageable. This means that practitioners have capacity to build trusting relationships with children and young people,” it added.
In order to improve social work practice, Sutton should focus on improving return home interviews as they are not consistently informing safety planning for children. Further, the assessment of risk is fragmented, which means that the wider context of harm in relation to gangs and criminal exploitation is not always well understood or sufficiently considered in safety planning.
Finally, when children in care move home or are not in education, it takes too long for their educational needs to be met and this needs to be addressed, Ofsted concluded.
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