Ofsted has praised children’s social workers in Gateshead for the trusting relationships they build with children and families.
In its inspection report on Gateshead children’s services, Ofsted said the borough’s social workers know the children they support well and do effective work with families where parents are struggling with substance misuse.
The inspectorate’s report, which rated Gateshead ‘good’ overall, said: “Social workers are good at listening to children and know them well. Children’s wishes and feelings are well recorded in assessments.
“Social workers form good relationships with children and there is some very good evidence of direct work with children to support them.”
With the exception of one safeguarding team, Ofsted said the council appropriately weights caseloads and found that local children benefit from having regular visits from a consistent social workers.
The council’s approach to pre-birth child protection also received praise. Ofsted said that 11.5% of children subject to child protection plans in Gateshead are unborn, compared to a national average of 1.8%.
“This proactive approach ensures that focused multi-agency work starts as soon as professionals identify concerns,” it said, adding that this robust planning means 63% of children no longer need a child protection plan by the six months old.
Other positive points highlighted by Ofsted included the Max Card given to foster carers so that the children they care for get reduced entry costs to local attractions not run by the council and the low level of adoption breakdowns.
However, Ofsted did find that Gateshead’s work with care leavers needs improvement. Care leavers, it reported, are not always clear about their health histories or legal rights, and pathway plans are too often descriptive rather than outcome-focused.
In addition Ofsted said: “Whilst timely, child protection conferences and core groups are not always effective in challenging and driving children’s plans. Poor attendance by educational professionals at some key meetings means that information sharing is not as robust as it should be.”
Gateshead Local Safeguarding Children Board also needs to improve. The board should engage more effectively with the local community and pay greater attention to the views of young people, the report recommended.
Ofsted also said the board should ensure there is sufficient safeguarding training to meet demand.