Improvement update

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Improvement Update - 12 February 2021

Outcome of Ofsted focused visit

 A letter reporting on the outcome of Ofsted’s latest visit to Children’s Services has been published today on the Ofsted website.

The visit was carried out on 15 December 2020. Ofsted looked at the quality and impact of key decision-making for children who need help and protection, children in care and care leavers, together with the impact of leadership on service development.

The visit also reflected how the Children’s Services is delivering child-centred practice and care within the context of the restrictions placed on society during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outcome of the visit states that while improvement has been slow this is in part because of the scale of changes that need to be made, and also because it has taken time to put in place a new senior management team which was not fully in place until March 2020. Ofsted recognise that since that date, focus has needed to be on the recovery and improvement of children’s services whilst also having to respond to pressing demands arising from the pandemic.

Bradford has consistently had one of the highest infection rates in the country and has remained subject to either local or national restrictions throughout the first wave of the pandemic. Demand for children’s social care has remained high.

The letter from Ofsted states that: “leaders have achieved some positive steps forward in this challenging context. They have taken opportunities to maximise partnership working with other organisations, with a shared determination to focus on the most vulnerable children and families. They have been putting in place the basic infrastructure and practice standards needed to support improvement within the service. They have developed more effective oversight to support immediate decision-making when children are first referred to social care. They are renewing IT resources to better support frontline practice. They have recruited to specialist posts and secured financial investment for children’s services.”

The strengthened partnerships that Ofsted recognise has helped us improve services for pre-birth and vulnerable children. Ofsted also report that many areas, especially our services for disabled children, safeguarding and education are working well. We’re particularly grateful to all the partner organisations who have worked with us during this difficult and challenging time.

Ofsted state that “Shrewd budget planning has enabled the council to prioritise children’s services for substantial capital and revenue investments, enabling improved capacity in the service”. However, we know that there are still areas of significant weaknesses in practice and oversight in our frontline services. We know we need to urgently address these challenges: we need to develop a more stable workforce, we need to make sure that caseloads are more manageable, and we need to make sure that casework and planning are done more effectively.

None of the concerns Ofsted has raised were ones that Children’s Services leadership team were not aware of. All the concerns will be addressed in the next phase of improvement planning so that we can achieve the sustained improvements to make sure services are timely, consistent and of a high standard for the children of our district.

The letter from Ofsted is available at the following web page

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