Children's Services Improvement Update

View this email in your browser

Children at the Heart of What We Do image

Improvement Update - 22 March 2019

Cllr Adrian Farley

Welcome to our latest update 

Planning is moving at pace for our improvement arrangements and I want to update you on some of the main activity that is taking place. We have just had our first monitoring visit focused on the social care Front Door. I want to thank all the staff and partners for their contribution and support during the visit. We will share that outcome of the visit in due course.

Our external partners and colleagues who work with children in the district are so important in helping us make these changes. I want to stress how much we value that and how we want to include you as part of this journey. Please remember that if you want to contact us with any suggestions, you can do so by emailing

Cllr Adrian Farley
Portfolio Holder for Children and Families

Improvement plan

Our Improvement Plan was submitted to Ofsted in February and they have now feedback to us on this. Ofsted acknowledge that the plan clearly sets out our ambition to deliver good quality services for children and young people. They have offered some very constructive advice on a number of changes that we can make to improve the plan. A revised plan will be published on our website.

New £6.5m investment fund for children’s care

A significant new investment in services for children has been agreed by Bradford Council. A new one-off £6.5m investment will be available, of which £1.2m can be used for immediate improvements in children’s social care with the remainder held in a fund for further improvements.

The new Children’s Services fund will provide for the recruitment of new social workers, as well as more support for the auditing of cases and the robust and effective delivery of the Council’s improvement plan.

The fund will be managed by a board made up of the Leader, the Portfolio Holder for Children and Families and senior officers to provide added scrutiny. This funding is in addition to the £5.5m investment in children’s social care and the £890,000 investment in special educational needs and disabilities support (SEND) that was agreed by the Council’s Executive in December 2018.

New colleagues

Two new colleagues have joined the improvement team, bringing a wealth of experience and expertise. Anne Chester-Walsh is on secondment from Doncaster Council as assistant director for improvement, and Michael Blower is our new head of early help. We have also begun the short-listing of candidates for the permanent Strategic Director of Children’s Service role.

Bradford Basics programme

We have developed a programme called “Bradford Basics”. This will help us improve social work practice by focusing on the core basic procedures that we want to make sure are consistently done to a high standard. It will work by delivering an enhanced training and management offer through the Teaching Partnership; a coaching audit programme and improved performance reporting.


Our governance arrangements are now more established. Our Improvement Board is Chaired by Stuart Smith, our Improvement Adviser, and meets every 6 weeks. This is supported by the following:

  • Partnership Board which meets every 3 weeks, Chaired by Kersten England our Chief Executive.
  • A staff reference group Chaired by one of our team leaders.
  • A young people’s reference group facilitated by “Build a Girl” - a community based engagement project.
  • Working groups on each of the improvement plans key themes which are chaired by named senior managers.
  • Regular staff briefings and “You said we did” for staff feedback.
  • A Members' forum.

New Front Door arrangements

A number of positive changes have been made at social services Front Door. These are:

  • The creation of a new Head of Service post for the Front Door.
  • A review of and oversight of decision making in the Front Door.
  • A review of Consent and Threshold.  This is now agreed in draft and will be signed off by the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board in March.
  • A social worker based in the Contact Centre reviewing contacts and supporting staff.
  • Moving the Early Help Gateway to co locate with the Front Door ahead of the planned re-modelling.

Action coming up

There are some key things that we will be working on over the coming weeks. Three of these are:

  • A review of the common referral form.
  • A partnership process is now underway to remodel the front door pathway. This will include a consultation line and will integrate early help staff into the Front Desk.
  • A review of early help provision will take place to strengthen what is on offer to support children, young people and families in each of our localities.