Doncaster ambitious to be ‘outstanding’ at next inspection

Doncaster children’s services has “an appropriate but challenging” ambition of being recognised as outstanding by the next full Ofsted inspection, the inspectorate has said.

In a focused visit to Doncaster children’s services, inspectors found Doncaster council and Doncaster Children’s Services Trust focusing highly effectively on improving its services.

“All of the small number of recommendations made at the last inspection have been fully delivered. The council and DCST know the quality of their services well,” said the report.

Independent provider, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust (DCST), delivers all services for children in need, children in need of protection, children in care and care leavers, with the exception of the virtual school, family hubs and stronger families provided by the council. Doncaster council acts as the local commissioner with responsibility for contract management. The statutory functions of the director of children’s services are retained within the council.

At the last full Ofsted inspection of children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers published in January 2018, all services were judged to be good. The council and DCST were seen to be working well together, knowing their strengths and areas needing further development. The trust was highly effective in developing a culture for good social work to flourish. As a result, the quality of social work was good, supported by a well-embedded model of social work practice.

In this focused visit looking at the local authority’s arrangements for children in need, children subject to a plan and children in care, with a specific focus on services for disabled children, inspectors saw that all of the disabled children who had been assessed and identified as children in need, and were receiving services from the DCST, were being provided with a high-quality service which was delivering evident improvements in their lives.

The report highlighted:

– All of the social workers who met inspectors know their children exceptionally well.

– Assessments are generally of a high quality, timely, thorough, and describe the needs of each individual child in the family.

– All planning is of a good quality across the teams.

– When a disabled child has been assessed as a child in need, the quality of support work is of a high standard.

– All of the social workers who met inspectors reported that the size of caseloads are reasonable and that they have the opportunity to carry out direct work with children and their families.

– Management oversight is clear and well documented on all of the children’s electronic files.

The report found that supervision is regular. Social workers report that they benefit from these formal meetings, the support offered and the constructive challenge from their managers. However, the recording of these meetings does vary in level of detail and focus, with some, but not all, reflecting the quality of supervision described by workers.

The report recommends that Doncaster continues to ensure that the quality of social work recording, written plans and supervision is of a consistently high standard.

Doncaster children’s services focused visit

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