A council’s efforts to give its social workers manageable caseloads and regular supervision has helped maintain high morale, and improve recruitment and retention, Ofsted has found.
In a report published today, inspectors praised the quality of social work practice in Ealing and gave the council an overall ‘good’ rating. Its care leavers service was rated ‘outstanding’.
“Effective social work practice, which is monitored and overseen by managers, is leading to good outcomes for children. Children are seen regularly, listened to and their wishes and feelings are well recorded,” the inspection found.
It said steps to improve social work recruitment and retention had been effective. These included working with fast-track training scheme Frontline, offering ‘Step Up To Social Work’ and collaborating with other London boroughs to cap pay for agency staff.
“Many of Ealing’s agency workers have been in post for several years due to the high staff morale, manageable caseloads and the valued supervision and support from managers,” the report concluded.
Work to support newly qualified social workers was also good, with support described as “comprehensive”. New social workers also had protected caseloads and opportunities to learn from experienced colleagues.
Ofsted said the workforce’s diversity reflected the local community, and staff used their own cultural and ethnic backgrounds to build relationships with young people. Staff in Ealing were “proud” to work there, the report said.
Inspectors found staff remained in touch with large numbers of care leavers, many of whom lived in suitable accommodation, and said these were factors in rating the service ‘outstanding’.
“Care leavers gain independence skills, succeed and become role models, learning mentors and advocates for others. Their voice is clearly heard and incorporated into service delivery.”
In some cases social workers were not spending enough time with children, and child protection conference chairs were not able to show how they escalate concerns, Ofsted found.
It added that arrangements to investigate allegations of abuse or poor practice by professionals were not “sufficiently robust”.
Ofsted recommended the council made improvements to children’s participation in child protection conferences, and said all looked-after children should be helped to understand and make sense of their personal histories.