Ofsted criticises failure to review section 20 arrangements in ‘inadequate’ council

Inspectors said social workers were not seeing children alone enough

Choice of accommodation
Photo: Luis Echeverri Urrea/Fotolia

Ofsted inspectors have criticised “widespread and serious failures” in Worcestershire children’s services in an ‘inadequate’ judgement issued today.

Inspectors raised concerns about the council’s failure to review all cases of children subject to section 20 – voluntary care arrangements – which means they “cannot be certain that all arrangements are appropriate and necessary”. It recommended that the council does a “thorough review” of all children living in section 20 accommodation.

Thresholds throughout children’s services were applied “inconsistently”, Ofsted said, and management oversight does not lead to practice improvement.

“Caseloads of social workers, [independent reviewing officers], child protection chairs and personal advisers, although decreasing, remain too large. This is a significant contributory factor to the poor quality service that some children receive,” inspectors said.

Focus and drive

Ofsted said recently appointed leaders in the service were “starting to provide the much-needed focus and drive, and partner agencies and staff express confidence in the ambitious leadership team”.

But, it added, Worcestershire’s social workers were not seeing children alone and children’s views were not fully “considered, taken into account or acted on”.

“Too few children are supported to participate fully in their child protection conferences,” it said.

Worcestershire was also finding it a challenge to recruit good quality, permanent social workers and managers.

“The local authority does not have a recruitment and retention strategy, and has not been able to ensure that the workforce is suitably experienced to deliver a good-quality service for children,” said Ofsted’s inspection report.

Inspectors recommended that the council improve all its services, and implement a workforce strategy “as swiftly as possible”.

3 Responses to Ofsted criticises failure to review section 20 arrangements in ‘inadequate’ council

  1. Longtime SW January 25, 2017 at 11:53 am #

    “Caseloads of social workers, [independent reviewing officers], child protection chairs and personal advisers, although decreasing, remain too large. This is a significant contributory factor to the poor quality service that some children receive,” inspectors said.

    Worcestershire was also finding it a challenge to recruit good quality, permanent social workers and managers.

    “The local authority does not have a recruitment and retention strategy, and has not been able to ensure that the workforce is suitably experienced to deliver a good-quality service for children,” said Ofsted’s inspection report.

    Only comment is – is there anywhere that it is truly different as the day-to-day experience of frontline social care workers (aduts and children’s)?

  2. Rosaline January 27, 2017 at 4:38 am #

    The approach being applied here is correct, the leadership team will have to continue their focused approach, consider a specific developmental training programme to ensure expectations and standards are understood across management and social workers. This will provide the ability to understand strengths and areas of challenge across the staffing unit. After this the improvement often steadily increases, as the focus then shifts to the areas of need as opposed to all areas.

  3. edie January 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    How can a complaint about how section 20 was used by a team manager that had not even met the family involved, attended a single meeting or any court hearing be investigated by the said team manager? A case load involving more than one child where an abusive and violent man has been brought back into children’s lives but grandparents and other family members have no so called rights to see these children. A case load made bigger by unnecessary over thinking and what they consider is fact, when it is, in fact,opinion by workers.