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.
Inspectors considered the local authority’s arrangements for children who need help and protection. They found:
- When referrals are the subject of MASH enquiries, information sharing is prompt and of good quality, leading to effective risk analysis and appropriate decision-making.
- Thresholds are appropriate and well embedded in practice.
- Child protection investigations are timely and well written, and demonstrate child-centred, responsive work using a systemic approach to understanding children’s circumstances and the underlying complexity of family dynamics.
- The integrated gangs unit adds real value.
- Early help referrals are proportionate to children’s needs and there is a good range of early help support for families.
- Assessments are mostly timely and proportionate, balancing and analysing risk and protective factors to underpin decision-making and future planning.
"Sensitive, creative and child-focused direct work undertaken by social workers means that children’s wishes and feelings are understood, and this contributes to positive relationships that are successful at improving children’s circumstances and reducing risk," said the report.
It added that social workers who spoke to inspectors were very positive about working for Westminster, reporting regular, reflective supervision and good access to managers, including senior managers, who support them in their work. Furthermore, staff morale in Westminster is high and staff have good access to a wide range of induction and training opportunities.
To improve social work practice, Westminster should improve the focus of case file audits on the impact of practice on outcomes for children and the clarity of actions required and work on partner engagement in strategy discussions and meetings.