A local authority’s stable staff and leaders have been praised by Ofsted for transforming an inadequate service to a good one.
Salford council, rated inadequate by Ofsted in 2010, was today judged to be ‘good’ by the inspectorate.
Ofsted’s report complimented the progress the authority had made in maintaining “the consistency of social work staff”, many of whom had been at the council throughout the entire improvement period.
Low social work turnover
Its social work turnover was only 2% in the last year. Ofsted found effective planning and access to good quality training had maintained a stable workforce of qualified and experienced workers. This kept agency staff to a minimum, inspectors found.
Newly qualified staff had a clear professional framework, which included training opportunities to gain advanced qualifications, which each social worker was given an annual appraisal.
The average social work caseload at the council is 17, which means social workers can build strong relationships with children.
“Social workers visit children regularly, know and understand their needs well and can articulate their successes and what needs to be done next,” the report found.
The authority was also found to be taking a lead on multi-agency issues, with children who go missing and are at risk of sexual exploitation receiving good support. The quality of return interviews were inconsistent, however.
Adoption improvement needed
Looked-after children receive timely therapeutic support if it is needed, and good practical emotional support in their transition to adulthood, inspectors noted.
All of the council’s services for children were rated ‘good’, with the exception of adoption performance because children are waiting too long to be adopted, the watchdog said.
Ofsted recommended the authority “urgently” analyses its adoption performance and, in order to improve timeliness, develops robust systems for tracking the experience of prospective adopters and children with a plan for adoption.