Social work investment helps council shed ‘inadequate’ rating

Ofsted found Knowsley children’s services had invested in providing social work staff with the tools to do their jobs well

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A local authority has shed its ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating after a “transformation” in its children’s services helped improve care and cut social work caseloads.

Knowsley children’s services, rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors just three years ago, has achieved a ‘requires improvement’ rating in its latest Ofsted report published today.

Inspectors said: “Senior leaders have focused on creating an environment in which good social work can, and increasingly does, flourish.”

The council had successfully recruited and retained a stable workforce, inspectors said. This had led to caseloads reducing and social workers making “positive trusting relationships that endure with children”.

“At the time of inspection, 76% of the workforce had been with the local authority for longer than 12 months and only four social workers were agency workers. All of them had been with the authority for longer than two years,” inspectors said.

This was a “significant reduction” in staff turnover and agency rates seen in the last inspection.

High-quality tools

Ofsted said the local authority achieved this by giving social workers access to good-quality training and opportunities for progression.

“The local authority has invested in providing workers with high-quality tools to support them to do their job well. This includes an improved physical environment and technology to support mobile working, as well as tools to support effective practice with children and families,” inspectors said.

The council should address “variable” social work practice to be considered ‘good’ overall, Ofsted said.

“Weaknesses in care planning sometimes result in a lack of focus on tackling underlying issues of neglect and emotional abuse that make some children susceptible to all forms of exploitation,” inspectors said.

“The quality of social work undertaken with families in the pre-proceedings phase of the [public law outline] is variable and, for some children, is not timely,” the report added.

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