Children’s services showing areas of improvement, say Ofsted

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Improvement Update - 4 June 2021

Children’s services showing areas of improvement, say Ofsted

Ofsted have published the outcome of their latest monitoring visit to Bradford’s children’s services.

The visit, which took place on 28 April 2021, was the fifth since their main inspection of children’s services in 2018.

The letter recognises the difficulty of delivering services throughout the pandemic and the creative efforts to which social workers have gone to keep services going. The letter also highlights a number of areas where improvements are being made to services, but it also states that improvement in social work practice has been too slow for children and families.

Ofsted acknowledge that since the main inspection in 2018, a new permanent senior leadership team is in place and is driving improvement. This team is supported and challenged by an improvement board chaired by the Department for Education (DfE) commissioner. The new management team has improved the basic infrastructure of the service. This has led to an improved front door service, a revamped training programme, improved quality assurance and performance management, and significant financial investment to increase social work and managerial capacity. This has resulted in the number of caseloads for most social workers steadily reducing.

Steps have been put in place to speed up the pace of improvement including a recruitment drive for more social workers, better and more focused training, and a clear improvement plan that focuses on the most important improvements that need to be made.

Mark Douglas, Strategic Director of Children’s Services, said: “Ofsted have recognised that we are making progress in our improvement journey. We know that there are still areas we need to change and that in some, particularly with the quality of some social work, improvement has not happened fast enough. Ofsted have recognised that a new senior management team is in place and there is an improved front door into the service, revamped training, and improved quality assurance and performance management. We were aware of all the issues raised by Ofsted. With the added investment that has been made into the service we are focusing on rapidly improving the areas Ofsted have identified as areas for further improvement.”

Councillor Sue Duffy, portfolio holder for children and families, said: “As the new portfolio holder for children and families I am absolutely committed to making sure all our district’s children get the best possible service. While I welcome the fact that Ofsted have identified areas where children and young people are getting better support, I am keen to make sure that we accelerate the speed of improvement.

“Ofsted are very clear in their assessment about how positive social workers are about working in the district and that the new training they receive is already producing better assessments. This is critical as Ofsted also say that we need to achieve a consistent quality of social work. I will be working relentlessly to seek assurances from the management team that the additional investment the Council has made will drive improvements at pace over the coming months so we can deliver the excellent services which our children deserve.”

The letter from Ofsted is available on the Ofsted website