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

Inspectors find ‘significant weaknesses’ in responses to children at Swindon

The quality of decision-making when children are first referred for help or protection has declined at Swindon children’s services since the last inspection in 2014, Ofsted has found.

In a focused visit of the local authority’s arrangements at the first point of contact for children who need help and protection, inspectors found significant weaknesses in the responses that children receive.

“Social workers in the MASH do not always identify risk, and inspectors found some children at risk of harm. Many decisions made by social workers and managers are not sufficiently swift and do not take account of all relevant information,” said the report. “In some cases seen by inspectors, opportunities to intervene had been missed historically, and recently.”

Swindon’s children’s services were last inspected by Ofsted in 2014, when the overall effectiveness of services was judged to require improvement to be good.

Since the director of children’s services was appointed nine months ago, he has commissioned both internal and external reviews to assess the performance of the MASH, said the report. A well-targeted programme of improvement has begun, including the revision of early help pathways, increasing senior leadership capacity and management training for all managers, but these are not yet ensuring that the ‘front door’ is providing a consistently safe, well-targeted and timely response to children.

The DCS acknowledges that the service has lacked a culture of rigorous challenge and accountability by managers at all levels and is working to embed the use of performance information and quality assurance processes.

Inspectors highlighted:

  • Thresholds for intervention are not well understood by partners and are inconsistently applied by staff within the MASH.
  • There are delays in children receiving support when their cases transfer between statutory and early help services.
  • Risk to children is not identified in all cases.
  • Rag ratings applied to referrals in the MASH do not always correctly reflect the level of risk, and, as a result, some children do not receive a timely response.
  • Case recording is consistently poor.
  • Referrals to the designated officer do not always receive a timely response.
  • Management oversight in the MASH is poor.
  • Quality assurance arrangements are under-developed.

However, social workers who spoke to inspectors report regular, reflective supervision and easy access to managers, including senior managers, who support them in their roles. Social workers describe manageable caseloads. The MASH is a stable team and most staff are permanent. Staff are able to access an improving suite of training opportunities.

Ofsted recommends the local authority takes swift and decisive action regarding the identification of risk and the quality of management oversight and decision-making in relation to safeguarding practice.

In order to improve social work practice, the local authority and partners through the local safeguarding children board need to improve the understanding of thresholds for referral to children’s services and the quality of information contained in referrals.

Managers’ use of performance information and quality assurance processes and the quality and timeliness of case recording and planning for children also need to improve, the report recommends.

Focused visit of Swindon children’s services

 

Knowledge & Resources

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

COVID-19 – The effects on survivors of abuse

19/11/2020

Clare Jerrom speaks to Future Pathways Alliance Manager Flora Henderson about how COVID-19 has impacted on survivors of abuse in care.

The loneliness and isolation experienced by so many during lockdown have been amplified for many adults who experienced neglect or abuse in the care system. For some the restrictions of freedom have felt reminiscent of [...]

Read Full Story

Children experiencing homeless slammed as ‘national scandal’

19/11/2020

Over half of state school teachers have worked at a school with homeless children or children who have become homeless, the charity Shelter has revealed.

Most teachers have first-hand knowledge of the damage done by the housing emergency to education –– with it now commonplace to see children grappling with homelessness at school, an issue slammed [...]

Read Full Story

Instagram increasingly used to groom children

18/11/2020

Instagram is increasingly being used to groom children, the NSPCC has warned.

The photo and video sharing app was used in 37% of online grooming offences compared to 29% over the previous three years, the children’s charity has found.

NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless said: “Families have long paid the price for big tech’s failure to protect [...]

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