Improvement Update - December 2019

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Improvement update - December 2019

Children’s social care improving but pace needs to be quicker says Ofsted

The outcome for Bradford Council’s third monitoring visit of Children’s Social Care has been published. You can read the full letter from Ofsted here.

The main outcome of the visit is that the Council is making progress, but that the pace of change has been too slow.

The inspection took place in October, but the publication of the results was delayed because of the general election.

The inspection focused on children in need of help and protection, in particular, those children on a child protection plan, are subject to court proceedings or who are on the edge of care. 

The letter, published by Ofsted on 18 December, highlights that politicians and leaders now have a better understanding of what is needed to make the required improvements, and that they have invested significant resources to make the changes needed. It recognises that Mark Douglas is now in post as strategic director of children’s services and that a restructure of the service underway. This will help improve management oversight and see social care teams working more closely with Early Help teams.

The letter highlights that there are still significant challenges that children’s services needs to overcome. We need to increase the capacity of the workforce, and in particular, there needs to be improvement in the quality and practice of assessments and the manager oversight of that quality. These are areas which the Council is working on

Osfted also point out that there needs to be better working with partners and this is an area that we are starting to address, and we will be doing more work on how we can work better with our partners to develop a more consistent and shared approach to social care.

However, Ofsted acknowledge that: “Social workers in Bradford are motivated to help children and families improve their circumstances.  This is a result of their engagement in the improvement plan and their shared understanding of the vision for children’s social care.”

Ofsted also acknowledge that: “Positively, children at the edge of care are being effectively supported to remain safely at home.” The letter also highlights two other areas that are improving: social work caseloads are reducing because of additional capacity; and the oversight of court pre-proceedings has improved reducing the drift and delay that children had previously experienced.

The next monitoring visit is scheduled for the end of February next year and will focus on on performance and end of journey and some disabled children’s services. We need to build on the successes that Ofsted recognised on their last visit and really focus on the weaknesses they have highlighted so that we can continue to make progress at a faster rate.

Key to this will be ensuring that we improve the quality and consistency of practice and of recording that practice, and that we have the policies and procedures in place to underpin this. We will be working with all our partners to help us achieve this.

Link to Ofsted letter