A round-up of the Ofsted reports of inspections of children's services published during September.
Strong corporate leadership at Westminster
Within Westminster, there is strong corporate leadership to improve outcomes for children and their families who are in need of help or protection, Ofsted has said.
Since the previous inspection of children’s services in 2016, there has been a continued commitment to sustain and improve the quality of social work practice at the ‘front door’, the inspectorate added.
“Inspectors found evidence of sound social work practice within the MASH, as well as in other social work teams. Social workers report that they are well supported. They know their children well and are confident and competent in their work,” the report said.
Steady pace of improvement at South Gloucestershire
The scope and pace of improvement of services for children and young people in need of permanency in South Gloucestershire has been steady and realistic, Ofsted has said.
In its fourth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in February 2017, Ofsted highlighted that South Gloucestershire had now moved into the second phase of its improvement plan.
“However, the senior leadership team recognises that a number of areas continue to require improvement to ensure that children in need of permanency receive a good service,” said the report.
East Sussex rated as outstanding
East Sussex leaders set exceptionally high standards for children’s services, Ofsted said, rating the authority as ‘outstanding’.
East Sussex, where the Association of Directors of Children’s Services president is the director, is a strong, dynamic learning organisation that encourages self-reflection at all levels.
“Leaders and managers have successfully established a culture in which talented social workers stay, and where effective social work flourishes,” said the report. “The social care workforce is impressively stable and resilient at all levels and in all teams.”
“The East Sussex model of ‘connected practice’ has been comprehensively rolled out and is fully embedded, resulting in helpful, enduring and trusting relationships between practitioners, children and their families, sometimes over many years,” it added.
Progress at Birmingham but improvement still required
Birmingham children’s services is continuing to make some progress in improving services but a number of areas continue to require improvements, Ofsted has said.
The Trust needs to improve its evaluation of social work practice, the consistent engagement of partners in contributing to multi-agency meetings and ensuring that in cases of neglect, over-optimism does not lead to inaction.
“More work is required to ensure that plans for improvement in children’s circumstances are easily understood by parents and that plans detail what the next steps will be when no progress is being made,” said the report.
Improvements made at Tower Hamlets but practice still too variable
There are still considerable weaknesses in permanence planning and in assessments for children who cannot live with their parents in Tower Hamlets, Ofsted has warned.
While there has been improvement in key areas since the last inspection of Tower Hamlets and overall, the quality of practice with these vulnerable children is improving, but it is still too variable, inspectors said.
“Senior leaders agree with inspectors’ findings. They are determined to accelerate the pace of change and are taking appropriate action to address the significant deficits in the children in care services,” said the report.
Pace of progress too slow at Tameside for looked-after children
The pace of progress has been slow in too many areas of the service for looked-after children in Tameside, Ofsted has warned.
Inspectors found some evidence of improving performance in the timeliness of statutory requirements, such as reviews, completion of health assessments and personal education plans.
“The quality of social work practice, supervision and management oversight, and challenge by independent reviewing officers (IROs) still require significant improvement to ensure that practice improves and delivers good outcomes for children looked after,” said the report.