A summary of the Ofsted reports of children’s services published in June, with links to a full article on the inspection and the full report.
Determined transformation of children’s services at North Tyneside
There is strong corporate leadership and ambition to improve services for children and their families at North Tyneside, reflected in a determined transformation programme of children’s services.
A focused inspection by Ofsted found senior leaders know the service well, and this is reflected in the local authority’s self-assessment.
“Inspectors found evidence of sound social work practice in the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) and social work assessment teams. Contacts and referrals are progressed in a timely manner. No children were found to be in situations of unassessed or unmanaged risk,” said the report.
Birmingham maintains progress with care leaver services
Progress continues to be made at Birmingham children’s services, Ofsted has said.
In the fifth monitoring visit of the authority since it was judged inadequate in November 2016, Ofsted concentrated on care leaver services and found all care leavers are allocated a personal adviser and there has been further investment made in establishing a fifth 18+ leaving care team to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people.
“Children who have been in the care of Birmingham for two years or more are benefiting from, in almost all cases seen, stable, long-term living arrangements,” said Ofsted. “Comprehensive plans are in place and are reviewed regularly.”
Sound child protection practice at Camden Children’s Services
Ofsted inspectors found evidence of sound social work practice in the MASH and in the brief intervention team at Camden children’s services during a recent focused inspection on child protection services.
The MASH works effectively to safeguard children and partners are well engaged which ensures that there is timely information sharing, and also ensures the consistent application of thresholds and an appropriately proportionate response for children and families who need help and support.
“The local authority and its partner agencies have clear strategies in place to promote early intervention. This approach is strongly embedded and there are a wide range of services to support families when their needs are first identified,” said the report.
Improvement programme is embedding at Gloucestershire
The director of children’s services and the senior management team at Gloucestershire are providing clear direction and embedding a programme for improvement, which has resulted in improvements in practice.
A monitoring visit of Gloucestershire by Ofsted said that there continues to be significant financial investment and additional resourcing by the council in children’s services, and this investment is beginning to demonstrate improved service provision and outcomes for children.
“The local authority is making progress in improving services for children and young people,” said the report. “However, too many children continue to experience drift and delay in the assessment, planning and provision of services to meet their needs.”
Early planning for children in care ‘not consistently good enough’
The quality of early planning for children in care in Reading is not yet consistently good enough, Ofsted has concluded.
In the sixth monitoring visit of the authority since Reading was rated inadequate in June 2016, inspectors found oversight of pre-court and court, proceedings is “insufficiently rigorous” and does not prevent children experiencing delay.
“Overall, progress in addressing pertinent recommendations of the 2016 inspection has been too piecemeal and fragmented, but plans for accelerating and embedding improved services for children in care are now realistic and achievable,” said the report, which focused on children in care.
Improved care leavers services at Southampton
A “determined and stable senior leadership team” has made positive improvements to the services for care leavers in Southampton after services for care leavers were rated inadequate in the last inspection.
The Ofsted single inspection in 2014 found that services to children in Southampton required improvement to be good and that services to care leavers were inadequate. However, a focused visit looking at services for care leavers found a strong commitment and financial investment from political leaders.
“The local authority in its role as a corporate parent now demonstrates a real commitment to improving outcomes for young people,” said Ofsted. “The vast majority of young people now live in suitable accommodation and personal advisers are regularly in touch with them.”
Bolton rated ‘good’
Ofsted has rated children’s services in Bolton ‘good’ after its previous rating of ‘requires improvement’ in 2014.
Senior leaders and elected members have a clear focus on prioritising support, including financial resources, for Bolton’s most vulnerable children, the single inspection found.
“Social work practice and services have improved since the last inspection and are now good, resulting in positive outcomes for most children,” said the report.
Pace of change at South Gloucestershire has accelerated, says Ofsted
The pace of improvement has started to increase at South Gloucestershire and now needs to be accelerated, said Ofsted following a recent monitoring visit.
Since the last monitoring visit, the local authority has continued to implement its improvement plan and recent progress has been made in some areas to improve services for children and young people in care in South Gloucestershire.
“Significant recent investment by the council has supported the improvements seen by inspectors during this visit. The senior management team recognises that a number of areas continue to require improvement and there is still much to do,” said the third monitoring visit of South Gloucestershire since it was rated inadequate in February 2017.
The visit, which focused on children in care, said the recently launched ‘Ten core practice standards’, ‘Decision making and visiting standards’, ‘Permanence planning protocol’ and supervision guidance have been effective in raising standards in the recording and frequency of social workers’ visits to children, as well as helping to improve managers’ tracking of children’s cases to permanency.
Partnership work needs developing in Sandwell Children’s Trust
There has been a lack of urgency to develop partnership working in the borough of Sandwell since Sandwell Children’s Trust was established, Ofsted has warned.
Inspectors noted that since the re-inspection in 2018, a great deal of work has been completed to establish the Trust and an ambitious improvement plan has been developed which sets out eight priority areas and with all eight priorities being led by the chief executive and Trust directors.
However, Ofsted noted: “Although work has started on most of the priorities, it is significant that since the re-inspection there has been a lack of urgency to develop partnership working in the borough. This partnership working is crucial to ensure that children and families receive services to improve their outcomes.”
New processes implemented at Wirral
Progress has been made in The Wirral’s strategic response to children looked after, through the implementation of new processes and procedures, said Ofsted.
In the sixth monitoring visit of the authority since it was rated inadequate in September 2016, Ofsted found progress had been made after the experiences and progress for children looked after and achieving permanence was deemed to be ‘requiring improvement’ in the September report.
“However, more work is needed to improve social work practice to ensure that all children looked after receive a good service that improves their experiences. The local authority is aware of the shortfalls in practice and is taking steps to address them,” said the report, which focused on the experiences and progress of children who had recently become looked after, including those children at risk of child sexual exploitation and those on the edge of care, including pre-birth assessments.