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Ofsted visit notes improvements made and challenges remaining

Published
08.02.2018

Gloucestershire County Council’s latest Ofsted monitoring report shows that children’s social care is improving but challenges still remain.

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The council is being monitored by Ofsted as part of an ongoing improvement plan after an inspection last year rated children’s social care as inadequate.

During the course of the visit on 16th and 17th January, inspectors spoke to staff and managers, looked at performance data and case files and observed social workers in practice.

Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people said: “These visits are important because they provide a detailed and independent view of how we’re doing. We welcome Ofsted’s feedback and the report accurately reflects the improvements we made and the challenges we still face.

“Our biggest concern is that the pace of improvements is still too slow and children in need of protection continue to experience delays. We also know that social work practice is inconsistent, but we are addressing these concerns.

“To change this we are invested in staff, reducing caseloads and improving the systems we use. We are working hard to ensure that children in Gloucestershire are protected and this latest report gives us a clear focus before the next visit in May.”

As part of its improvement plan, the council has appointed a new permanent director of children’s services, Chris Spencer, who will take up the role on 5 March 2018.

Chris has held director positions in a number of councils, including Redbridge, Hillingdon and Slough.  He was once a school teacher before becoming an educational psychologist, working for 12 years with Oxfordshire County Council.

During his leadership career he has led councils through four Ofsted inspections, all of which have been rated as ‘good’. Chris currently lives in Cheltenham.

On the appointment of the new director, Cllr Boyles added: “This is an important appointment for the council, our staff and the children and families we support. Chris brings extensive experience and has a track record of delivering good social care at councils across the country.

“Having a permanent director in place will bring stability to the service and help us to make the changes we need to make sure vulnerable children are protected here in Gloucestershire.”

Since the Ofsted report was published in May 2017 the council has:

  • Recruited additional experienced social workers to reduce caseloads
  • Invested in better technology to reduce the time frontline staff spend on paperwork
  • Improved the way it monitors quality and performance - which Ofsted highlighted as ‘comprehensive and focussed on improving outcomes for children’
  • Opened a new public reception for social care and a ‘front door’ for professionals contacting the service

The council is working with the Department for Education and Ofsted to improve children’s social care services in Gloucestershire.

You can view the latest Ofsted monitoring report here: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/gloucestershire/053_Monitoring%20visit%20of%20LA%20childrens%20services%20as%20pdf.pdf and see Cllr Richard Boyles respond the report here: https://youtu.be/eB7beGhA-1g