The quality of some social work practice in Rotherham “remains poor” despite evidence of improvement, according to Ofsted.
Ofsted monitoring inspectors identified “clear evidence of improvement” in Rotherham children’s services, which was rocked by a wide scale child sexual exploitation scandal in 2014 and subsequently rated ‘inadequate’ by inspectors.
However, this improvement “has been slower than has been seen in other areas across children’s services”.
While social work caseloads have reduced, and more permanent staff have been hired, management oversight is “weak”.
“Social workers are neither supported nor challenged sufficiently by managers to improve the quality of their work,” the inspectors reported.
Making the workforce more stable has also caused children to experience “too many changes of social worker”, which is having a negative impact on their plans.
The quality of some practice “remains poor” too.
“When children become looked after, there is a lack of urgency to identify their long-term needs and secure early permanence,” the letter said.
“There is some evidence that managers are beginning to deliver more regular supervision. However, this is still without the rigour, challenge and reflection required to support social workers to improve the quality of their practice and focus on improving timely outcomes for children,” it said.
However, independent reviewing officers (IRO) were “an emerging strength” at the authority.
“The timeliness of children’s reviews has increased, and evidence shows increased IRO scrutiny and challenge. This is beginning to identify when progress is needed in some children’s plans, but is yet to demonstrate how improved scrutiny is making a difference to outcomes for children.”
Overall, Ofsted said the council had responded to positively to recommendations identified by inspectors in 2014.
“A stable senior management team, led by the director of children’s services, demonstrates determined, effective, strategic leadership with clear priorities and aspirations, and a sustained focus on improving outcomes for children,” the report said.