Senior leaders at Slough have worked purposely and carefully to ensure that early permanence planning is embedded in practice across the children’s workforce, Ofsted said.
In the sixth monitoring visit since the local authority was judged inadequate in February 2016, inspectors found that senior leaders have continued to respond to the findings from previous monitoring visits and the recommendations from the single inspection framework in 2016.
“Based on the evidence gathered during this visit, leaders, social workers and managers continue to demonstrate a commitment to improving outcomes for children in Slough,” said the report.
“Practice to bring children into care is timelier than it was at the last inspection. Most children who become looked after are assessed appropriately, placed swiftly and make positive progress towards early permanence. Nonetheless, senior managers recognise that there is more to do to ensure that all children who need care are identified early and that authoritative action is taken, as some children still come into care too late,” it added.
During the course of this visit, inspectors reviewed the progress made in the area of children in care. Inspectors highlighted:
- Leaders have made concerted efforts to improve permanence planning and tracking, but this is not effective for all children in care.
- Care plans are improving in quality, although not all are consistently good.
- Independent reviewing officers (IROs) are now having an impact on challenging and guiding children’s plans.
- Children live in safe and stable placements and have contact with their families when this is in their best interests.
- Assessments of family members as friends and family carers and special guardians are increasingly timely.
- Management grip has increased at all levels of the service, although first line management oversight remains variable.
- Leaders have strengthened performance management information with an enhanced caseload reporting system.
- Where deficits in practice are found, action plans are swiftly implemented.
Ofsted also found that the workforce is increasingly stable and, consequently, the number of children who have had two or more social workers in the last 12 months has reduced from 38% in February 2017 to 24% in February 2018.
Staff seen by inspectors are positive about working for the trust and morale is good, the report concluded.