Ofsted Reports - August 2019

A summary of the Ofsted reports published during August.
Pace of improvement at Croydon is accelerating
Children and young people in Croydon are beginning to receive a better quality of service, and the pace of improvement is accelerating, according to Ofsted.
The sixth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in September 2017 found the leadership provided by the executive director and the director of early help and children’s social care has resulted in an acceleration of pace and progress over the last six months.
“They have a strong and clear understanding of practice in Croydon and are taking concerted action to address any barriers to progress. Senior leaders are confidently setting out a clear and ambitious vision for the future, while simultaneously addressing immediate areas for improvement. There is considerable political support for continued improvement, including significant financial investment to support wholescale change,” said the report.
Monitoring report
Ofsted notes improvement at Kirklees
Strong and resilient senior leadership has underpinned improvement in practice at Kirklees from a considerably low base since the last inspection of children’s services in 2016 where Ofsted rated the authority as inadequate.
The pace of change was slow initially due in part to a lack of stable and effective senior management. However, in June 2017, a formal arrangement was implemented by the Department for Education with Leeds City Council taking responsibility for overseeing improvement.
Since March 2018, there has been steady progress in strengthening the foundations for sustainable service improvement. As a result, there are no widespread or serious failures that leave children at risk of harm.
“Progress has been achieved through increased corporate commitment and investment in services, clear and focused leadership, strengthening of partnerships, for example the duty and advice team, and improved workforce stability and engagement. Children who need help and protection are now recognised, and risk of significant harm is quickly responded to,” said the report.
Children's services inspection
Deterioration in services for children in need in York
There has been a deterioration in the quality of services for children in need of help and protection at York since the last inspection of children’s services in 2016, Ofsted has said.
Recently appointed senior managers understand the extent of the deterioration and have put in place processes to address this and a trajectory for change has been established.
“However, some children continue to be exposed to risk, as this change is too recent to have had an impact. There has been drift and delay in the progression of plans for some children. This has been exacerbated by staff turnover, which has resulted in children having too many changes of social worker and a consequent loss of focus on what needs to be done. Work in some cases has lost its way, with children remaining on a plan longer than necessary and risks not being addressed effectively,” said the report.
Focused visit to York
DCS delivers improvement at Swindon
The determined and well-focused leadership of the director of children’s services at Swindon has delivered significant improvement in children’s services, Ofsted has said.
The DCS and his leadership team have taken swift and decisive action to improve services for children and young people in Swindon, the children’s inspection reported. Following the inspection of 2014, services declined, and the focused visit undertaken in 2018 found that services had deteriorated to a point where several areas for priority action were identified.
“The quality of leadership in Swindon is a key strength and has ensured the delivery of swift and well-targeted improvements across all areas of children’s services. The DCS and his team have been systematic and relentless in their efforts to drive developments in Swindon and acknowledge that evident improvements have been made from a low base,” said Ofsted.
Children's services inspection
Lewisham requires improvement
Services for children in Lewisham continue to require improvement overall, according to Ofsted.
The inspection of children’s services at Lewisham found services for children in care have deteriorated since the previous inspection in 2015, when they were judged to be good.
“Internal and external evaluations of children’s services in 2018 have resulted in widespread and fundamental changes. This work is being overseen by an improvement board, underpinned by strong political and corporate support and a re-invigorated senior management team. Senior managers are clear about the changes that are required, and the pace of improvement has accelerated since the appointment of the director of children’s social care in September 2018,” said the report.
Children's services inspection
Warrington rated good by Ofsted
Leaders at Warrington ensure that children and their families receive good quality services that help to protect children and improve their day-to-day experiences of family life, Ofsted has said.
The operational director for children’s social care, who also holds the role of deputy director of children’s services, is highly focused on ensuring that frontline staff and managers understand what makes good practice, and is determined in her role as practice leader to see this exemplified in all interventions with children and families.
“The director of children’s services (DCS) is instrumental in promoting strong strategic partnerships. This results in widespread multi-agency involvement in effective and extensive early help and edge of care services. Consistently strong multi-agency engagement is also evident in the commitment to children who are the subjects of child protection and child in need plans,” said the report.
Children's services inspection
Increased number of children at risk of exploitation identified at Bury
An increased number of children at risk of child sexual exploitation in Bury have been identified by children’s services and provided with help and support, Ofsted has said.
In a focused visit of Bury children’s services, inspectors looked at the local authority’s arrangements for providing help and protection for vulnerable adolescents. Inspectors considered the response to children at risk of sexual and criminal exploitation and those who go missing from home or from care.
Bury children’s services were inspected by Ofsted in 2016, when the overall effectiveness of the service was judged to require improvement to be good, with the experiences of children in need of help and protection judged to be good. At this time, Bury had low numbers of children identified as being at risk of exploitation, and services were judged to be ‘robust and improving’.
However, the local authority’s self-assessment prior to the Ofsted focused visit acknowledged that the experience and progress of children in need of help and protection has declined since the inspection in 2016.
Focused report
Services for children in Southend require improvement to be good
Services for children in Southend-on-Sea require improvement to be good, as was the case at the last inspection in 2016, Ofsted has said.
While senior leaders have made significant progress in some areas in improving the quality of practice, despite a challenging local context, there is more work to do.
“Leaders have concentrated heavily on strengthening the ‘front door’ multi-agency response to contacts and referrals, planning for children in need and services for vulnerable adolescents, following learning from a joint inspection,” said the report. ”
These services are now highly effective. However, progress has been uneven, and some improvements are not yet making enough difference for children.”
Children's services inspection 
Progress made at Sheffield
Senior leaders and managers at Sheffield have achieved steady progress in improving the vast majority of services since the last inspection in May 2013, Ofsted has said.
Children’s services in Sheffield were rated good whereas in May 2013 they had received a judgement of require improvement to be good.
“This led to a comprehensive improvement plan, overseen by an improvement board, which is supported by significant additional corporate investment. Senior managers have successfully used their self-evaluation, peer review process and feedback from Ofsted’s earlier focused visits to improve services for vulnerable children. This has resulted in most children receiving good services which meet their needs,” said the report.
However, there are some discrete areas of the service where practice still requires improvement, such as arrangements when children go missing from home and care, the early identification of children who are at lower risks from exploitation, the management of allegations against professionals and the consistent application of the threshold to step up from early help to children’s social care. Senior managers were aware of these weaknesses prior to the inspection.
Children's services inspection
Children’s services at Medway are inadequate
Services to help and protect children in Medway are inadequate and most areas have deteriorated since the single inspection of services in 2015, according to a report by Ofsted.
Many vulnerable children who have experienced long-term neglect, and those at risk of exploitation and who go missing from home or care, live in situations of actual harm or are at risk of harm for too long, the report following the inspection of children’s service says.
“Senior leaders have sustained improvements in the ‘front door’ single point of access (SPA) and the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) following the priority actions identified in the 2018 joint targeted area inspection,” said the report.
“However, they have failed to recognise or address the serious and widespread concerns identified by inspectors in the early help hubs and the assessment and longer-term team ‘pods’. Attempts to drive improvement in these areas have had little impact, and the pace of change has been too slow.”
Children's services report 

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