Inspectors have set out the positive progress made by social workers and senior leaders responsible for supporting vulnerable children and young people in need of help and protection in Leicestershire.
Ofsted has today (March 2) published the findings of a focused visit inspection of Leicestershire County Council’s children’s social services.
The visit, in January, was Ofsted’s first since a full inspection in 2019 which found that leadership and services for children in care and care leavers were good, but the overall grade for the department and services for children in need of help and protection required improvement to be good.
During the latest Ofsted visit, officials examined performance data, quality assurance work, key polices and strategic documents and, most importantly, the quality of social work practice with children and their families.
The inspectors also met frontline social work staff and senior leaders.
They have concluded positive progress has been made across the service and that the quality of social work support provided to children in need of help and protection has improved.
What has Ofsted said?
- The council’s committed, strong and focused senior leadership team has built on the progress seen at the 2019 inspection and that the senior leadership team know the service well.
- Ofsted recognised the commitment and investment by political and corporate leaders, together with effective work by senior leaders and staff, have meant that responses to children in need of help and protection have improved.
- Social workers know the children they support well. Social workers work hard to include all family members, including non-resident fathers, to develop effective safety plans through family meetings.
- Children are at the centre of decision making. Direct work with children and their families is strong and is informing decision making. Records written to the child mean that if the child reads their file at any time in the future they will clearly understand the decisions made.
- Children receive a timely and proportionate social work response to manage risk and meet their needs.
- Social workers like working in Leicestershire, they are well-motivated and report feeling well supported by team managers, senior managers and the wider organisation. Caseloads are manageable.
- Senior leaders have maintained a steady pace of change despite the challenges of Covid-19 and have a good understanding of frontline practice.
Ofsted has said there are two key areas for further improvement within the department.
- Consistency in recording smart targets and timescales to improve the quality of plans for all children.
- The consistency in the recording of supervision sessions with staff to make sure the supervision record always demonstrates reflective discussions and how this is driving progress on the child’s plan.
We listened carefully to what inspectors told us in 2019 and have been working hard to make genuine improvements to the services.
Supporting children who need protection is one of the most important duties any council has and I’m really pleased that the inspectors looked thoroughly at the services we provide to some of the most vulnerable young people and recognised the progress we have made.Person:Councillor Deborah Taylor, council deputy leader and cabinet member for children and family services
Councillor Taylor also added: “Pleasingly, the inspectors confirmed that the continuous improvement work across the service is making the progress we want to see.
“I would like to thank all staff involved in supporting vulnerable children in need of help and protection for their dedication and hard work over the past few years and the families who have supported our journey towards improvement.
“There is much to be proud of.
“Whether they are the social workers or support staff working directly with children, line managers supporting workers or the many other key roles who help the department provide good services to children and their families.
“It is making a real difference to the lives of children who need us the most.”