Social workers expressing “pride” in working for their children’s services department was a factor in a positive Ofsted inspection published this week.
Inspectors found Bury council children’s services had “good support for newly qualified social workers, accessible and relevant training for all staff, manageable caseloads, additional funding to increase the number of social workers and effective management oversight”.
“Loyalty from the workforce to the local authority is strong, and staff express pride in working for Bury,” inspectors said.
The children’s services, rated ‘adequate’ in 2012, were given a ‘requires improvement’ rating by inspector overall, but found the council’s child protection, adoption services and management to be ‘good’.
‘Unambiguous’ decision making
Senior managers were “highly visible” and engaged in-depth with social work practice, and “unambiguous” decision making – supported by effective supervision – ensured safe social work practice.
Ofsted found “seamless” transfers for children between different services, and timely visits to young people on child protection plans. More than 95% had been completed on time in the three months prior to the inspection.
“Work seen demonstrates that social workers build trusting relationships with parents, which assists with promoting children’s and young people’s welfare,” inspectors said.
It added: “Timely assessments make effective use of historical information. Children’s and young people’s wishes and feelings are well recorded, and children and young people can have an independent advocate. Assessments result in multi-agency plans that improve outcomes and reduce risks.”
Areas for improvement were identified in services for looked-after children, where Ofsted found some children and young people lacked chronologies, and the overall standard needed to improve.
“Too many are replicated from case notes. This makes it difficult to understand the history of a child or young person or for any new workers to grasp quickly a sense of the important things that have happened,” the inspectorate found.
It recommended that social work practice and management in the area of looked-after children be improved. The council should ensure that assessments are up to date, and that plans are specific, achievable and include timescales and contingencies.
When the piece was originally published, it said that Bury had achieved a ‘good’ rating overall by Ofsted. It had in fact it received a ‘requires improvement’ rating, but was rated ‘good’ in several areas of the report. This was updated on May 18.