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Wandsworth moves out of ‘inadequate’

Wandsworth children’s services has moved out of an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating into ‘requires improvement to be good,’ in the latest Ofsted inspection.

The last inspection in December 2015 rated the authority as inadequate but Ofsted said senior leaders have worked diligently to strengthen the quality of children’s services, implementing recommendations and learning from their improvement plan, quality assurance activities and seven Ofsted monitoring visits.

“Significant financial investment and an understanding by senior leaders of the strengths and areas for development within the service have underpinned the improvements to the quality of help and support provided to children and families across most areas, and no aspects of the service have been judged inadequate,” said the report.

Children who need help and protection, children looked after and achieving permanence, adoption performance and leadership, management and governance all require improvement to be good. The experience of care leavers was rated good.

The report highlights that children in need of help and protection are now identified quickly, and support for them is effective in reducing risks. Disabled children receive a good social work service.

However, the quality of practice and the need to continue to stabilise the workforce remain a challenge, as the pace and impact of change have not been sufficient to achieve consistent improvements to social work help and support for children across all services. This includes longer-term child protection planning and pre-proceedings, early permanence, including those children with a plan for adoption, and strengthening support for some vulnerable adolescents.

Inspectors highlighted:

  • The strategic partnership response to child sexual exploitation and to those children who go missing is well established and identifies those children at risk.
  • The strategic partnership response to child sexual exploitation and to those children who go missing is well established and identifies those children at risk.
  • Effective decision-making and management oversight ensure that child protection concerns are dealt with immediately.
  • Children in care live in safe, good-quality homes with committed carers who are able to meet their needs.
  • Children in care live in safe, good-quality homes with committed carers who are able to meet their needs.
  • Performance information is routinely used to ensure compliance with key indicators and to manage improvements, although adoption data is not yet reliable enough.

However, it was noted that assessments of children’s needs are timely but are of variable quality and some children have had frequent changes of social worker, which delays the development of effective relationships and planning. Early permanence planning is still underdeveloped, leading to delays for some children to be placed with adoptive or permanent carers.

Ofsted recommends that Wandsworth develops the multi-agency response to children who are at risk of sexual exploitation or of going missing to include those at risk of criminal exploitation and gang affiliation, and ensure that the impact of intervention is analysed and clearly recorded.

Decision-making, management oversight and tracking arrangements to progress children’s plans should be strengthened. Systems and processes for family finding and matching of children who require permanence and adoption should be timely and effective in identifying families who can meet children and young people’s needs.

Councillor Sarah McDermott, the cabinet member for children’s services, said: “This report clearly shows that children’s services are moving in the right direction.”

“The support and protection of our children and young people is vital to this borough and it is so important that we can now say with confidence that children in Wandsworth are safe, that the quality of help and support provided to children and families has improved and that the department no longer needs outside intervention,” she concluded.

Wandsworth single inspection

 

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