Peterborough children’s services have been rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, having improved significantly since its 2015 inspection.
Areas for improvement highlighted in the joint targeted inspection in 2017 have been addressed. Children’s lived experiences are at the centre of practice and, as a result, they benefit from good, timely decision-making.
The participation of, and direct work with, children and families are key strengths, Ofsted noted.
“A stable, effective senior leadership team has driven improvement at pace,” said the report. “Leaders have an accurate understanding of strengths and weaknesses and have created the conditions for social work practice to thrive.”
In terms of the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection which was rated good, Ofsted highlighted:
- Children and families benefit from a good early help offer, which is helping to prevent the need for statutory interventions.
- Partners are well supported to lead and review early help for children and families.
- The multi-agency integrated front door (IFD) makes good, timely decisions in response to risks to children.
- When children are at risk of significant harm, strategy meetings are timely and well attended by key professionals.
- Responses to children who go missing or who are at risk of exploitation are timely and they are closely tracked by a lead manager and missing coordinator.
- Children’s assessments are of a good quality.
In terms of the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers which was rated as good, inspectors highlighted:
- When children need to be in care, decision-making is timely and appropriate, and thresholds are applied correctly.
- Children in care get good support from their carers and their social workers to keep themselves safe.
- The quality of planning and support for children in care and care leavers provided by the virtual school has improved following investment in key new posts.
- Children are matched appropriately to carers, and children receive high quality, stable care.
- Good-quality practice and outcomes for children in achieving adoption has been sustained since the last inspection.
- Care leavers receive very good support from social workers and personal advisers.
Regarding the impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families which was also rated as good, the report said:
- There is very strong political and corporate support for children’s services which ensures that children’s needs are prioritised, and that corporate decision-making, including significant areas of investment, is having a positive impact on children.
- Strategic planning for children’s services prioritises innovation and sustainability through partnerships and participation.
- There is a strong learning culture in Peterborough.
- An effective participation strategy reflects a strong commitment to enabling children and parents to influence the delivery of services.
- Most social workers have regular supervision.
- Children benefit from an increasingly experienced, permanent workforce.
While rating the authority good, Ofsted said Peterborough needs to improve assessments of children who are missing or who are at risk from child sexual exploitation. The use of chronologies in underpinning children’s assessments also need work, as does the number of return interviews that are successfully completed with children who have been missing from care.
Ofsted also recommends that improvements are made in the quality of information provided to care leavers about their rights and entitlements, including how to access their health histories. Finally, consistency of management oversight, including recording of casework supervision across all social work teams needs addressing.
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, executive director for people and communities at Peterborough City Council, said: “Over the last three years there have been rapid changes and sustained improvements made within the department and we are pleased these have been recognised by Ofsted inspectors. This has been achieved because there has been strong political support and a children’s services workforce who are committed to making a positive difference to lives of children and families.
“Our Family Safeguarding Team approach was launched earlier this year and already we have seen a reduction in the number of children on child protection plans from 280 in August 2017 to 230 in May 2018. This means families have benefited from this new approach,” she concluded.