Inspector says more needs to be done for children at risk
Ofsted has told South Gloucestershire Council that progress has been made in some of its services for vulnerable children and young people, but there is more work to do, with some children exposed to risk for too long.
The report comes as cabinet members have allocated £767,000 in additional funding to ensure improvements continue.
Ofsted was checking the progress of the council’s improvement plan, in its third monitoring visit since Children’s Services were judged to be inadequate in 2017.
Amongst the positive changes, it reported that additional staff have been recruited into key roles, such as extra social workers in the Access and Response Team (ART), as well as in locality teams. It found various initiatives underway which showed that “the pace of improvement has started to increase” but said it “now needs to be accelerated”.
Ofsted also highlighted areas where more progress is needed. It found that sometimes social workers and managers miss opportunities to intervene at the earliest point, and inspectors said they saw children exposed to risk for too long. Some assessments were of variable quality, and a minority of audits of individual children’s cases fail to identify key weaknesses.
Councillor Jon Hunt, Cabinet Member responsible for Children and Young People, said: “I am encouraged by the latest findings by Ofsted inspectors, which demonstrate the council is moving in the right direction.”
“We recognise there is still a way to go in order to bring all social work practice to the same consistently high standards that the children we support deserve. To help achieve this goal, a new model of social work practice is being implemented and our staff remain committed to providing the best outcomes for children and their families.”
“Ofsted have acknowledged that the foundational work has been done and we will now focus on and accelerate the work to ensure consistently high standards are achieved.”
“We need to ensure that those high standards are what all the children we support experience, which is why we will fund and implement the Phase Two Improvement Plan.”
Phase two includes plans to recruit further extra staff in the coming year. It will also establish a lead role to oversee multi-agency working; a pilot project for the council to be more involved in training social workers itself, and management support for a new locality team to improve capacity in frontline services.
Councillor Jon Hunt said: “We have made this progress thanks to a tremendous amount of work from our dedicated staff. I want to pay tribute to their efforts. They will have our full support as we deliver more of the same and look forward to receiving a much-improved assessment when Ofsted re-inspect.”