There has been a continued focus on improving social work practice at Newham children’s services thanks to corporate and political focus, Ofsted has said.
Leaders know their service well and this supports the development of good social work practice, said Ofsted inspectors in a focused inspection of Newham children’s services.
“In the cases considered, inspectors did not find children at risk of harm for whom the local authority had not provided an appropriate service,” said the report. “The development of neighbourhood working and smaller teams is supporting multi-agency engagement and the more effective management oversight of case work.”
However, this could be further improved by reducing the caseloads of some teams and a more consistent application of practice models, it added.
There has been an improved response to contact and referrals following significant work over the last 12 months. Partnership working in MAH has resulted in effective decision-making to safeguard children. Thresholds are applied appropriately in the triage and MASH which leads to assessments that ensure proportionate interventions to meet children’s needs.
Responses to child protection concerns are mostly timely although management oversight when key decisions are made needs to be further improved to ensure consistency.
Child protection concerns are swiftly identified and progressed to strategy meetings where planned interventions effectively safeguard children. Increasingly, strategy meetings include relevant partner agencies, are timely and lead to clear actions to safeguard children.
Robust arrangements are in place to identify and respond to missing children and those at risk of child sexual exploitation. The majority of assessments recognise risk, with most providing a clear analysis and appropriate recommendations. Assessments are generally timely and include children’s wishes and feelings, although they do not always reflect their lived experiences.
Social workers told inspectors that they felt valued and are supported by a comprehensive learning and development programme. Recruitment and retention are supported by leaders with a wide range of ‘grow your own’ programmes and an international recruitment campaign.
Ofsted recommends the timeliness of partners’ responses in the MASH needs to improve in order for social care to progress prompt decision-making and avoid unnecessary delay for all children. Inspectors said that management oversight is not consistent or sufficiently robust and the local authority has not yet developed sufficiently robust performance management and monitoring tools.
The report concludes that the 0–25 team does not respond effectively enough to referrals relating to children with a disability. Child protection concerns are responded to promptly and effectively, however, children in need of support experience significant delays in being seen and receiving an assessment.