There is evidence of a strong focus on achieving permanence for children and young people at Leeds, according to Ofsted.
The focused visit to Leeds children’s services found that most children are being cared for in stable family placements that meet their needs.
“Social workers know the children well. Practice is child-centred. Social work assessments reflect the wishes and feelings of children and young people. Children’s plans are clear and coherent,” said the report which concentrated on the local authority’s arrangements for the quality of matching, placement and decision-making for children in care.
Regular reviews and effective management oversight help to ensure minimum drift or delay in meeting children’s needs, it added.
Senior leaders have created an environment in which “social work is flourishing”. Children, young people and their carers are benefiting from an increasingly stable workforce. The local authority clearly understands its strengths and areas for development and takes its corporate parenting responsibilities very seriously.
- Children’s case records are comprehensive and up to date.
- The local authority is committed to achieving permanence for children and young people.
- Therapeutic social work support is provided by a specialist team which includes psychologists and which helps to build resilience and prevent placement breakdown.
- Social workers make good use of the child sexual exploitation assessment checklist to identify risks.
- Great care is taken in trying to find the right placement for children.
- The local authority has invested well in recruitment and retention, workforce development and career progression.
- Independent reviewing officers (IROs) provide robust oversight and effective critical challenge.
- Senior leaders understand what is working well and have identified areas appropriately for further development.
In terms of improving practice, Ofsted found that the way in which information is presented in performance management reports means that they are not always easy to understand. This has the potential to undermine critical challenge and accountability.
Personal Education Plans are of variable quality. They are sometimes delayed, not always sufficiently ambitious, specific or measurable. Senior leaders recognise that this has contributed to children in care not making good progress in their learning and are taking appropriate action to address the issue.
However, it remains an area for development, the report concludes.