Improvement Update - February 2020

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Improvement Update - February 2020

Preparing for the next Ofsted visit

The next Ofsted monitoring visit is scheduled to take place during the week of 24 February 2020. The focus of the visit covers two specific areas of practice: performance and the end of journey and some disabled children’s services.

Planning for the inspection has been on-going since November. An Ofsted Preparation Board has been created and is chaired by the Deputy Director of Children’s Social Care. This will help us provide the oversight we need to complete the preparatory works to the requisite standard so we can make sure we’re able to meet the requirements of the inspection.

A thematic work plan has been created identifying the tasks that need to be completed before the inspection. An Annex A work plan has also been created to provide the Annex A sections required by Ofsted for the visit.

Practice Standards

Staffing arrangements

The Council has put in place a new structure within Children’s Services. New Heads of Service posts for social care have been filled and we are currently recruiting for permanent service manager posts. We have also recruited a permanent Foster Care Manager who has just started in post.

We have been working with social work teams to further develop our practice standards which we will be rolling out to all social care staff from 31 March. 

We are also continuing to work with partners to establish what our Early Help offer should be across the district and how we communicate this to our partners and users. 

Annual Conversation with Ofsted

Our Annual Conversation with Ofsted took place this month. We provided Ofsted with a self-evaluation form (SEF) detailing the relevant strategic, operational and performance related information that demonstrates Bradford’s progress since the last Annual Conversation in 2019.

The SEF outlined where we believe the challenges are that we face and the areas we need to focus on. This has helped us in putting robust plans in place to make improvements in these areas.

The outcome of the Annual Conversation will help us direct the strategic direction of travel across Children’s Social Care, Early Help and Education and Early Years Services in Bradford. It will also help support and inform the improvement and transformation journey across services moving forward.

Bradford YOT report

A joint inspection of Bradford’s Youth Offending Team (YOT) carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) in September and October 2019 and announced in January 2020 found that the service requires improvement.

The Council fully accepts the report’s findings and the service is acting on these urgently to ensure that improvements are made to practice and that young people in Bradford are safe. One of the main concerns the report raised was the instability within the board and leadership team. We now have a new permanent senior leadership team in place. The YOT Board is now chaired by the Deputy Director of Children’s Social Care, with a Police Superintendent as deputy chair.

The report identified some positive findings on which we’re building, but we recognise that there are many areas of the service that are not yet performing at the level they need to be and we need to see a rapid improvement. One area the report raised was a concern about was planning and it goes on to recognise that we were in the process of developing appropriate plans with the input of young people . The service has since gone on to win a national award for this work and this is the kind of improvement we must now make across the whole of the service.

It’s important to stress that the report acknowledged that front-line staff worked hard to deliver effective services despite the temporary disruption to leadership structures. We are now working closely with the police and other partners to address the report’s recommendations and have submitted an overarching plan to HMIP.