County council’s improvements showing signs of success, say Ofsted
Following their latest visit (18 and 19 February 2020) Ofsted said that the council ‘demonstrates that it is determined to improve services for children’, and there is now evidence of success in key areas.
During the visit, the county council asked inspectors to focus on the areas they know still need strengthening including: timeliness of visits, effectiveness of assessment, planning and interventions, the quality of management oversight and staff supervision, and the quality of performance management information.
Ofsted said improvements in some parts of the service, where leaders have focused attention, are showing early signs of success. This is particularly evident in the safeguarding teams, where social workers visit children more regularly and demonstrate persistence and professional curiosity. It also revealed that planning for children is improving and plans are of better quality.
In addition, inspectors found that the timeliness of social work visits to see children has improved, but reported that the quality of support is inconsistent which means that not all children get the help and support they need as quickly as they always should. Managers are not always as effective as they could be when responding to poor social work practice, or acting to prevent children’s situations worsening, and the quality of plans and assessments can vary across teams.
Council leaders have a clear oversight of the quality of services and the impact they have on children, but where weaknesses are identified, they need to make sure they respond more quickly and consistently.
Ofsted reported that staff vacancy numbers and rates have significantly reduced over 12 months and senior managers have created a more stable workforce meaning children experience fewer changes of social worker. Morale amongst staff is improving and they feel well supported and value the opportunities they have for development. It said the county’s assessed and supported year in education programme (ASYE) provides well trained and motivated professionals who are carefully supported.
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “It’s encouraging that Ofsted recognise the improvements we have made and can see the impact they are making, such as the success we have had stabilising our workforce and the quality of our training and development. Retaining our staff will play a big part in maintaining and embedding our progress which will bring increased consistency.
“It is of course disappointing that the changes we have made have not consistently resulted in improvements in practice, but we are committed to tackling this. We know our strengths and weaknesses and we will pick up the pace. We are committed to keeping our children and young people safe.”
A copy of the report can be found on the Ofsted site https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50148774