The Conservatives have called for tighter inspection of children’s services and say Ofsted inspectors should be allowed to accompany social workers on client visits.
In its report to the Laming inquiry ordered after the Baby P case, the Tory social work commission said confidence in the “integrity” of inspection needed to be restored. It suggested that inspectors should be able to directly observe social workers’ practice as they can teachers.
The commission, headed by shadow children’s minister Tim Loughton, also raised concerns over high vacancy rates in children’s social work.
The report cited figures showing rates of more than 20% in many areas and 35% at Haringey Council.
The commission also warned that many newly qualified social workers were being given powers to remove children too soon and were at risk of being “duped” by abusive parents due to a lack of experience. It recommended more practical training and supervision along with better continuous professional development.
The commission’s other recommendations included scrapping the ContactPoint database and overhauling the Integrated Children’s System to free up social workers from excessive bureaucracy. It also reiterated calls to create the post of a Chief Social Worker to “champion” the profession and be accountable for practitioners’ shortcomings.
‘Bruised and demoralised’
The report, written by experts including former Community Care editor Polly Neate, reiterated many of the conclusions of the commission’s original report in 2007.
In his introduction to the report, Tim Loughton said social workers needed more support than ever as they were “bruised and demoralised” after the intense publicity on the Baby P case.
Lord Laming’s inquiry is due to report by the end of this month.
Unison: High vacancies and rising caseloads risk another Baby P
Conservatives: Fast-tracking would ‘revitalise’ social work profession
Tory Social Workers’ Commission calls for workforce changes
Shadow children’s minister woos social workers