Make an Enquiry
Contact Us

Deterioration of services at Wokingham

There has been a "marked deterioration" in the quality, timeliness and delivery of services to children at Wokingham, Ofsted has said.

Since the last inspection in 2017, there has been increased caseloads in children’s social care and early help, linked to a rise in demand and instability across the workforce.

"The significant pressures within the MASH and assessment service were not identified or addressed early enough to prevent the decline," said the report, acknowledging that in recent months, leaders have taken more assertive steps to stabilise the service.

The current leadership team, led by the current interim DCS, has a clearer understanding of the areas for development within the service. With additional investment, such as through a new team of locum staff to reduce a substantial backlog in assessments, the management team has begun to tackle these weaknesses.

This, together with a levelling off of demand, has led to a recent reduction in caseloads. New referrals are receiving a more timely response and staff morale has begun to improve from a very low base. The situation remains fragile, the positive changes are very recent, and the ongoing impact is still to be tested.

The report highlights that:

- The ‘front door’ provides an accessible single point of contact for families and professionals who are seeking help.

- Early help referrals are appropriately reviewed and prioritised within the MASH.

- The review and coordination of new contacts when children go missing is managed by the MASH early help assistant team manager and this works well in the identification of levels of vulnerability and in the offer of early help services.

- The co-location of health, police and early help professionals within the MASH enables, in most instances, helpful information-sharing.

However, the triaging of domestic abuse notifications is not as effective as it should be. Most initial child protection strategy discussions include police and children’s social care only, and a small number do not take place quickly enough.

Due to the substantial and recent pressures within the service, some children who are subject to a child and family assessment have continued to experience delay in their needs being understood and receiving help.

Thresholds for child protection enquiries are sometimes too low, resulting in a small number of families being drawn into child protection processes when this is not required.

Senior and quality assurance managers have implemented an extensive audit programme, including themed audits and observations of practice. Leaders recognise that the audit tool needs to be improved and recent training of managers who audit cases has taken place to support a more consistent approach.

Although supervision of frontline staff is mostly regular, and staff feel well supported by these meetings with their managers, it does not always address practice or performance or rigorously progress plans for children.

In order to improve social work practice, Wokingham should focus on:

- The sustainability of arrangements to stabilise the workforce and meet ongoing demand.
- The effectiveness of arrangements for the police to play a full and active role within the MASH.
- The recording of screening and triage within the MASH, to support accountability of decision-making.
- Child protection strategy discussions, including: timeliness; the engagement of multi-agency professionals and the quality of information-sharing; threshold decision-making; and planning.
- The application of the significant harm threshold in order to ensure that children are only subject to child protection enquiries when these are necessary.

Wokingham focused visit

Knowledge & Resources

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

All children removed from Rainsbrook


All children are to be removed from Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre, the Lord Chancellor has announced.

Robert Buckland has confirmed that work is underway to move all children from the privately-run Secure Training Centre amid serious ongoing concerns about safety and performance.

The Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland said: “Six months ago, I demanded that MTC take [...]

Read Full Story

Response to 'Case for Change'


What the children’s services sector said about the independent review into children’s social care.


The Association of Directors of Children’s Services President, Charlotte Ramsden, said: “This review is a once in a generation opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change for the children and young people who need our help and support to thrive. The case [...]

Read Full Story

Children’s social care system likened to Jenga tower held together with Sellotape


Children’s services often intervene with vulnerable families too late, the independent review into children’s social care has stated.

The government’s main focus should be on supporting the resources of families and the wider community to keep children safe as close to a family environment as is possible. While decisive action still needs to be taken [...]

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

A Mackman Group collaboration - market research by Mackman Research | website design by Mackman

closechevron-downbars linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram