Steady progress made in Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services
A coherent plan for improvement in Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services is being successfully implemented, says the latest Ofsted report (May 2019), but changes to the service still need time to embed to see a difference to children’s lives more quickly.
During their latest visit to Gloucestershire’s Children’s Services, Ofsted focussed on a number of key areas including the newly formed multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), social work performance and practice and management oversight.
Three months on from their last monitoring visit and Ofsted still reports steady progress, but say more evidence is needed in some key areas of improvement to be sure of the impact they are having on children’s lives.
Children coming into contact with children’s services are now more likely to receive the care and support they need, when they need it, the report said. However, faster action is still required in response to some of the more urgent cases.
Overall, Ofsted report that managers and senior leaders have better oversight over the service and have a clear and accurate picture of the service’s strengths and weaknesses. Morale within teams continues to be good and social workers are positive about the support they receive.
However, social work practice can still vary in quality and consistency across teams and managers need to be faster and more rigorous when addressing weaknesses in social worker practice and performance.
The council has made progress in recruiting and retaining permanent social workers with the number of vacancies and agency staff used reducing by approximately ten percent, but more time is needed to see the impact this gradual change is making to every day social work practice.
Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “The team continue to work hard to make the changes needed to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children and young people in the county. Social workers now have all the tools of the trade they need to do their job, and with the launch of the new Social Work Academy today, we are confident that we will continue to improve practice and performance across the service.”
“The senior leadership team has a vision and a plan to get there. We need to keep up the recruitment drive for permanent social workers, and work closely with teams to make sure good practice is common across all areas. This is fundamental to ensure we offer consistent help and support and improve the outcomes for children and young people who need our help the most.”
The full report is available on the Ofsted website here.