Ofsted publishes latest wave of new-style children’s social care inspections

Inspectorate delivers verdict on children's social work in Bolton, Coventry, East Sussex, Essex, Hounslow and Staffordshire

Picture credit: Gary Brigden/Community Care

None of the six councils most recently assessed under Ofsted’s new single inspection framework for children’s social care has gained an outstanding rating.

Ofsted today released the results of its second wave of inspections under the new framework, of Bolton, Coventry, East Sussex, Essex, Hounslow and Staffordshire councils.

East Sussex, Essex and Staffordshire were rated good, but children’s social care in Coventry was deemed inadequate. Ofsted said Bolton and Hounslow require improvement.

East Sussex was praised for its adoption work, focused investment in early help and effective information sharing during child protection assessments but was told its work with care leavers needs improvement.

In Essex, Ofsted found that social workers in Essex were recording their work effectively and that looked-after children were doing well at school. The inspectorate said the council should ensure young people with mental health needs have easy access to good-quality mental health services.

It also advised Essex council to hold its local safeguarding children’s board, which Ofsted said requires improvement, to account over the delivery of key objectives.

Staffordshire was praised for the training it gives social workers and the wide range of early help on offer to children and families but told it could do more to make sure supervision supports reflective practice.

In Bolton, Ofsted found that social workers, police and health services do not always meet at the start of child protection investigations and that this could put children at risk of further harm.

Bolton was also criticised for a lack of advocacy services for children attending child protection case conferences. However the inspection report said the council was providing good care leavers and adoption services.

The London Borough of Hounslow was found to need improvement in all areas. Ofsted said that ineffective early help for older children was leading to too many of them being taken into care and said the council’s out-of-hours service was not being provided with all the information it needed to do its work effectively.

However, Ofsted did praise Hounslow social workers’ understanding of the diverse needs of the children and families they support and the quality of multi-agency work concerning adults who pose a risk to children.

Coventry council was told it needs to address high caseloads that are preventing social workers from doing their job properly and criticised a lack of robust management within its children’s social care service.

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