Ofsted inspections need to incorporate the views of service users and give more voice to social workers on the frontline, according to Professor Eileen Munro.
“There’s a lot of scope for using more sources of information,” Munro told Community Care, following the publication of her first report into England’s children’s services today. “The timeframe that’s most important is the child’s journey from needing help to receiving help. At the moment, we don’t have information about that or feedback from the frontline or service users.”
While her report said there needed to be more time for social workers to critically reflect on cases, Munro said she anticipated this to be a cultural shift rather than a concrete amount of time factored into caseloads.
“It’s not something you do in a designated half hour or specific period of time you set aside,” she said. “The crucial point is that the critical value of reflection is acknowledged and that local authorities make space for it. It’s about how social workers approach a case. I think of it as putting oxygen into the system.”
As for the integrated children’s system (ICS), Munro said she and her panel would be looking into IT issues very seriously as the review progressed.
“It’s a very big problem that local authorities have bought into expensive systems and now want to get out of them,” she said. “Computers themselves don’t solve any problems, so rather than focusing on replacing ICS, we’re looking at how computer technology fits into helping social workers do their jobs.”
While no funding for the review’s upcoming recommendations has been confirmed, Munro said she was confident that more efficient services can contribute to any cost.
“There’s a lot of scope for using the money already in the system in a more efficient way,” she said.
Munro also emphasised that although the official call for evidence for her review has ended, she and her panel were still interested in hearing about good practice and suggestions from the sector. Suggestions can be sent to her. Ongoing feedback and discussion events are scheduled between now and Munro’s next report in January. Readers can stay up to date by looking at www.education.gov.uk/munroreview.
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