The London Borough of Barnet is continuing to consolidate progress, in conjunction with its improvement partner, Ofsted has found.
Senior managers are fully aware and have clearly identified within their recent self-evaluation, caried out in November 2018, areas where social work practice has improved and which areas need further development.
"Senior leaders and managers have appropriately focused on ensuring that a consistent and robust quality of social work practice is in place," said the report. "For this reason, children and their families are now receiving more timely and effective help and support."
Inspectors found strong practice in the MASH, with an established team of professionals working together well to respond to the risks and needs of children. Thresholds are well understood, and decisions are timely and well informed so that children are appropriately safeguarded. The duty and assessment teams have a more stable workforce, and this is helping to further embed practice improvements, including a stronger child-centred approach.
Inspectors spoke to staff, who are positive about working in Barnet, and morale is good. All staff reported that their caseloads are manageable and they welcome their regular supervision, peer supervision and informal support from managers and practice development workers to assist them in improving their practice.
The report highlighted:
- Quality assurance processes are effective and remain a strength.
- Improvements in the MASH have been sustained and further developed since inspectors last visited in February 2018, during the second monitoring visit.
- Thresholds in the MASH are consistently applied and staff use the guidance and threshold document regularly to assist in their practice.
- Partners in the MASH, including police and health professionals, report improved partnership working.
- Practice considered by inspectors in the duty and assessment teams and in the cases audited was mostly consistent.
- Assessments are generally of reasonable quality, providing sufficient detail to understand the child and family’s circumstances. However, they do not always fully explore the child’s lived experience or the impact of parental history.
- The quality of children’s plans is still too variable.
"In summary, social work practice considered during this visit has further consolidated and improved since the previous visit to the ‘front door’," said the report. "This has led to stronger work with children and their families."
"Inspectors saw more work of a reasonable standard of practice; risks for children are reduced, they are making progress and there is stronger and better engagement with them and their families. This concurs with the local authority's own understanding of their performance. Senior leaders are fully aware of the areas of practice they still need to improve to ensure that all practice is of a good standard," the report concluded.