Here is a round-up of all the Ofsted inspections of children’s services published in July.
Ofsted rates Brent children’s services as good
Significant improvements in the quality of social work practice for children in Brent since the last Ofsted inspection have been highlighted by the inspectorate.
The care for children and care leavers is outstanding, Ofsted said, adding that firm foundations are now in place to facilitate and enable good or better social work to flourish.
“Senior leaders recognise and prioritise the needs of children and young people,” said the report. “They focus their attention on the things that matter and inspire staff to perform well.”
Social work caseloads need addressing at Liverpool
Social work capacity and allocation of caseloads needs addressing at Liverpool’s children’s services, Ofsted has warned.
Rating the authority as ‘requiring improvement to be good,’ Ofsted said that since the joint targeted inspection in 2016, and the subsequent four monitoring visits, senior leaders have made purposeful and targeted progress in strengthening arrangements in the multi-agency safeguarding hub and early help services.
However, insufficient progress has been made in other aspects of the service, and weaknesses found during this inspection mirror many of those identified in the single inspection framework SIF inspection carried out by Ofsted in 2014.
Bromley ‘working well’ to improve outcomes for vulnerable adolescents
The local authority and partners are working well to improve practice and outcomes for vulnerable adolescents in Bromley, Ofsted has found.
Strong commitment from strategic partners and senior leaders in the council has resulted in strengthened and effective collaboration, Ofsted said following its seventh and final monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in June 2016.
“The local authority is making significant progress in identifying risks to vulnerable adolescents and improving services to safeguard them,” said the report following the inspection which focused on progress in the area of vulnerable adolescents including the effectiveness of initial and ongoing multi-agency identification and response to risk, relating to those who go missing, or at risk of child sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation or gang affiliation.
Ofsted identifies serious and widespread failures at Wakefield
“Serious and widespread failures” have been identified at Wakefield children’s services by Ofsted.
Judging Wakefield as ‘inadequate’, Ofsted said inspectors found cases of children throughout the services for whom risk had not been identified and where appropriate action had not been taken to help and protect them.
There are serious delays in achieving permanence for children in care and in ensuring that their needs are met.
“Since the last Ofsted inspection in 2016, senior leaders across the council and partnership have not effected the improvements necessary to remove serious weaknesses or counter a decline in service quality. In 2016, services were judged to require improvement to be good. Many of the identified improvements have not been delivered and previously good services have deteriorated,” said the report.
High workloads need addressing at Staffordshire, says Ofsted
High workloads are impacting on social workers at Staffordshire children’s services, Ofsted has warned.
A restructure of the children’s social care service is planned and senior managers believe that the changes will have a positive impact on workforce capacity, caseloads and the quality of practice, resulting in improved outcomes for children and young people.
These changes have been delayed for reasons outside of the control of children’s social care.
“However, the recent rise in workloads, caused by an increased turnover of social workers, has resulted in a small number of children not receiving a good enough level of service, particularly where new risks emerge for children whose cases are already open to children’s social care,” said the Ofsted report.
Clear vision for children’s services at Sutton
There have been continued improvements in the quality of practice for children in the London Borough of Sutton, despite senior leadership changes, Ofsted has said.
A recent restructure, leading to the integration of early help and children’s social care, with a strong focus on early intervention and prevention, is proving to be effective in reducing risks to children, the inspection found.
“Senior leaders and managers have a clear vision for their services and know what still needs to be improved,” said the report.
Wandsworth moves out of ‘inadequate’
Wandsworth children’s services has moved out of an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating into ‘requires improvement to be good,’ in the latest Ofsted inspection.
The last inspection in December 2015 rated the authority as inadequate but Ofsted said senior leaders have worked diligently to strengthen the quality of children’s services, implementing recommendations and learning from their improvement plan, quality assurance activities and seven Ofsted monitoring visits.
“Significant financial investment and an understanding by senior leaders of the strengths and areas for development within the service have underpinned the improvements to the quality of help and support provided to children and families across most areas, and no aspects of the service have been judged inadequate,” said the report.
Havering children’s services ‘significantly improved’
Services for children in Havering have “significantly improved” since the previous inspection in 2016, according to Ofsted.
An inspection of children’s social care services found that leaders have demonstrated a determination to improve outcomes for children and this has been supported by purposeful corporate investment and commitment.
“Substantive improvements have been made in the provision of services for children who need help and protection, particularly in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH),” said the report adding that leaders know their service well and have acted upon previous inspections.
Core social work practice at Herefordshire needs improvement
The majority of core social work practice at Herefordshire children’s services requires improvement, Ofsted has warned.
The pace of planning and action to remedy some long-standing deficits has been too slow which has led to drift and delay for children before, during and after care proceedings, and means that outcomes have not improved for children in a timely way.
“Senior leaders acknowledge that insufficient progress has been made in key aspects of their service, and many weaknesses found during this inspection mirror many of those identified in 2014,” said the report.
Sunderland rated inadequate by Ofsted
Solid improvements have been made for children in care, children with a plan for adoption and care leavers in Sunderland but there has not been sufficient progress to ensure that the experiences of children who need help and protection have improved, Ofsted has stated.
Children in Sunderland are better served today than they were three years ago, but for children requiring protection, risk is not recognised, or appropriately responded to for too many children.
“The scale of some of the weaknesses in practice found during this inspection were not well understood by managers and leaders,” said the Ofsted inspection report.
A blame culture in social work impacts on risk aversion in the social work profession, some respondents to The Case for Change have warned.
Publishing the Case for Change in June, chair of the independent review of children’s social care Josh MacAlister said: “This Case for Change sets out the urgent need for a new approach [...]
Schools were forced to step in to support vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic for many issues that were previously dealt with by social workers, research has found.
Schools found themselves helping vulnerable families with problems such as mental health problems, domestic abuse and poverty during the pandemic as more families were turning to schools [...]
Children and young people at Oakhill Secure Training Centre are being held in their rooms for 23 hours a day, a joint inspection has found.
Children have spent approximately 19 hours per day on average locked in their rooms on average since mid-July 2021, the centre’s records show and on some days, this has increased [...]