Ofsted inspectors have singled out the ‘outstanding’ quality of leadership within City of London children’s services as part of an overall ‘good’ rating for the council.
Leaders have a clear understanding of frontline practice and, along with partner agencies, know their community “extremely well”, according to the Ofsted report, published today. Inspectors said this knowledge drives a “highly individualised approach, which takes full account of the [council’s] unique, diverse and sometimes challenging context”.
Just 1,000 children live in the local authority area, with many going to school outside the area and nearly two-thirds of pupils in primary education having English as an additional language.
The council’s last Ofsted report, in 2012, also found children’s services to be ‘good’. However significant improvements had been made in line with recommendations, in particular around performance monitoring and quality assurance systems, which inspectors described as “robust”.
Inspectors noted that City of London’s children and families team was “settled and stable”, with manageable caseloads meaning that social workers get to spend the time they need with families.
“The social work response to risk and need within families is swift and reliably good,” the report said, “with analytical assessments leading to helpful support that demonstrably improves children’s lives and makes them safer.” Inspectors also praised research being undertaken into neglect within affluent families.
Numbers of looked-after children – most of whom are unaccompanied asylum seekers – in the City of London are small, but inspectors found that services to them were of a “high and, in some cases, exceedingly high standard”. All looked-after children, they reported, experienced good outcomes.
Recommendations for improvement included further improving the quality and consistency of written plans for children, working more purposefully around families who choose not to engage, improving leaders’ and councillors’ contact with looked-after children and care leavers, and better including the perspectives of children, families and partners in case auditing.