Steady progress is being made at Coventry, according to Ofsted inspectors.
A focused visit to Coventry Councils children’s services which concentrated on the local authority’s arrangements for contacts and referrals in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and thresholds for children in need and child protection, found the quality of work in the MASH has improved since the last inspection.
“Following a period of restructuring, the local authority has achieved greater continuity of social workers for children in need, which means that social workers know the children they work with well,” said the report.
However, it warned that more needs to be done to strengthen management oversight in order to ensure that children in need benefit from greater consistency in the timeliness and quality of their assessments and plans.
The report found:
- Leaders understand their service well and this is supporting the development of better practice.
- The MASH is well organised and works effectively.
- Decision-making in the MASH is timely and well considered.
- Appropriate thresholds are applied and children at risk are responded to effectively to ensure they are safeguarded.
- Information sharing in the MASH is thorough and the quality of social work information gathering and analysis is a strength.
- The response to domestic violence in the MASH has improved.
- Staff are able to access a range of good quality training and professional development opportunities, contributing to a more stable workforce.
However, inspectors highlighted that management oversight in area teams is not sufficiently robust, is overly brief and does not provide the required critical evaluation and action planning to progress cases with pace and focus.
Some staff have a high number of cases and while inspectors saw some good assessments, many needed further development for the reader to have a clear understanding of the child’s needs and risks.
The quality of children’s plans varies, from being just good enough to being very good, individualised and comprehensive. In a small number of cases, there is also a lack of clarity about contingency plans.
“Social workers endeavour to engage with children, ascertain their views and gain an understanding of their lived experience. Some evidence of direct work with children was seen, but it was not particularly sophisticated and at times lacked a clear purpose,” said the report.
“More extensive use of direct work tools could add greater depth and insight to these sessions with children to better inform work with the child and family,” the report concluded.