Ofsted gives first outstanding grades for children’s services to two London councils

The children's social care inspectorate has named two of London's three Tri-borough councils as outstanding

Two London boroughs have become the first to have their children’s services rated “outstanding” under Ofsted’s single inspection framework.

In inspection reports published today Ofsted said Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster children’s services provide first-rate services to children and young people.

Although inspected separately the two authorities are part of the Tri-borough arrangement that has united the children’s social services across three London councils. The third member of the Tri-borough, Hammersmith and Fulham, was rated good.

Ofsted said services in Kensington and Chelsea were “resourced, planned and delivered very well by an exceptional workforce”.

In its report on Westminster Ofsted said the authority’s “exceptional performance framework supports the delivery of social work to a very high and, in most cases, outstanding quality”.

Absence of complaceny

Ofsted said the leadership in Kensington and Chelsea “extraordinarily high quality”.

“Senior leaders and elected members are well connected, well informed, and operate within a mature culture of respectful challenge,” it said. “An absence of complacency leads to a strong culture of continuous learning, professional accountability and responsibility.”

“The routine way in which social workers see children” is a positive feature of its service, Ofsted added. “This forms the basis of highly effective social work intervention to help protect children from risk of harm,” the report said.
In Westminster’s inspection, Ofsted noted how the low caseloads of the council’s social workers allowed “exemplary application” of the Tri-borough’s ‘focus on practice’ model of social work.

It added: “Well-trained and impressive social workers are able to retain their expertise in practice and pursue career opportunities other than management.”

Culture of compassion

Hammersmith and Fulham, while ‘good’ overall, was found to have ‘outstanding’ adoption and leadership performance.

Ofsted said that “considerable economies of scale are achieved through combined administrative and management arrangements across the Tri-borough partnership”.

Across the Tri-borough, there is a commitment among politicians, managers and social care professionals to “create an environment where good-quality social work flourishes and a ‘culture of compassion’, as described to inspectors, is evident”, Ofsted’s report on Hammersmith and Fulham said.

Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector for Ofsted, said the partnership showed what could be achieved and that others “must follow their lead”.
“These inspections clearly show the difference that excellent leadership and social work practice makes to the lives of children and their families,” Wilshaw said.

Hard work
Andrew Christie, the executive director of children’s services for the Tri-borough, said the rating was a direct result “of the hard work that all our staff put in, often in extremely difficult circumstances”.
Last year the Tri-borough was awarded £4 million from the Department for Education’s innovation fund and it was recently named one of the government’s Partners in Practice, which will see it given more freedom over how to run children’s services.

More from Community Care

10 Responses to Ofsted gives first outstanding grades for children’s services to two London councils

  1. James marsh March 29, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

    So this was all down to inspirational leadership and nothing to do with these two LA having loads of money unlike most outside of London.

  2. Lisa March 30, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Low caseloads! Of course social workers, managers and seniors can do an outstanding job with low caseloads- with the extra money they were given I would expect nothing less. Very irritating

    • Paul March 30, 2016 at 6:14 pm #

      Sure money helps, but it’s how you use it that counts, and low caseloads don’t just happen, a lot of hard work from managers and workers got the caseloads down. I used to be a manager at H&F, and I can assure you, it isn’t an easy ride. No doubt it was the best LA I have ever worked for, but that was because of the people, not the money, we pulled together and got a job done. Why did I leave, well money actually, I just couldn’t afford London anymore, so relocated to the Midlands!

      I get others frustration, but let’s not kick them for their achievement, but maybe learn from their success?

      • Andrew April 1, 2016 at 8:35 am #

        Fair comment well made. My initial reaction was in line with others that feel irritated by this. Of course it would be the areas with least social deprevation in the UK that get the first outstanding Ofsted inspections. But you’re right, money alone achieves nothing. The praise is well deserved. Good job 🙂

        • James April 6, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

          Hi Andrew,
          no need to backtrack.
          Because all the evidence is that money alone achieves a lot.
          It actually is all about the money.


          “1974 and 1979, the Canadian government tested the idea of a basic income guarantee across an entire town, giving people enough money to survive in a way that no other place in North America has before or since.—- And for that time, it seemed that the effects of poverty began to melt away.
          Doctor and hospital visits declined,
          mental health appeared to improve,
          and more teenagers completed high school.

          Forget -also -notes that there was likely a “social multiplier” effect at work….”
          So the surprise would be if this Council had not achieved well given the well documented transfer of funds from poorer areas directly to already wealthy areas in the last 6 years…., they did the correct thing of course, why wouldn’t they; In summary; east social deprevation in the UK, giving this LA loads more money
          Low caseloads…
          can all areas of England now expect the same…???

  3. Laura March 30, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

    The report doesn’t seem to say what is actually done well or how. It seems to lack meaningful content

  4. Ruksana Chowdhory March 30, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    Hard work and commitment by social workers should be recognised and applauded, particularly in boroughs where there are high caseloads and low resources, making the social work task much more challenging. It would be helpful if Ofsted inspection frameworks were appropriate and ratings were contextualised.

  5. Anna March 30, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

    So push managers to fight the cuts, fight for low case loads and take responsibility.
    Stop complaining, only YOU can change a situation that you are in.
    Be proactive not reactive.
    Stop talking and listen.
    I am a foster carer with no trust from SW’s so after two years of banging my head against the proverbial wall, we don’t trust you surprise surprise.
    We care about the children you tick your own boxes….
    Thanks that feelsbetter.

  6. Chris April 1, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    There’s an irony here: OfSTED’s inspections used to be too much about tickboxes and ‘are procedures being followed’, so the whole point of the changed inspection regime was to focus on children’s outcomes. And sure enough, if you measure the outcomes for children, you see them doing better in wealthier areas. OfSTED need a better methodology to assess the difference made by the local authority itself rather than just seeing “are kids better off in Kensington or Bradford?”

  7. James April 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    How taxes are ditributed by the ‘we’re all in it together’ Government—-