Social workers ‘not always acting’ on supervision at council, finds Ofsted

Ofsted finds Buckinghamshire children’s services is improving but warns managers failed to adequately track social workers progress on completing supervision actions

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Buckinghamshire council has tightened its performance management of social workers after Ofsted found practitioners were failing to complete actions recommended in supervision.

A monitoring inspection of Buckinghamshire’s inadequate-rated children’s services found progress had been made in improving practice but warned social workers “do not always complete” actions from supervision and managers had failed to “rigorously track or challenge” this.

“Consequently, there has been drift and delay for some children,” inspectors said, adding that the council had introduced a “more robust auditing and performance management approach” to tackle the issue.


The visit was the second monitoring inspection of Buckinghamshire’s services since they were rated ‘inadequate’ in 2014.

The inspectors focused on improvements made in looked-after children services and found steady progress and improving practice from social workers.

“The current leadership team has been effective in achieving improvements in some parts of the service, most notable in the work carried out to strengthen the independent reviewing service, stabilise the workforce, and improve the timeliness and quality of children’s health assessments,” the report said.

There was an increased emphasis on the quality of social work practice after the council’s auditing tool was published. This had created “greater focus on the child’s lived experience”.

David Johnston, managing director for children’s social care and learning, said the monitoring visit showed encouraging signs.

“Although considerable work still needs to be done, it’s another positive milestone for us to continue to build on,” Johnston said.

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5 Responses to Social workers ‘not always acting’ on supervision at council, finds Ofsted

  1. Harris January 16, 2017 at 9:23 pm #

    It’s interesting there are no explanations offered for social workers not doing as asked. Perhaps unreasonable expectations? Workload? Social worker don’t agree with decisions but don’t have time to check or disagree with notes? Things later added as an after thought? Interpretation of what’s being asked? Lack of trust management know what they are doing? Not trusting management decisions? Informal supervision follow up contradictory? No consistency between managers?
    Performance indicators are about what management think are the most important things, some times it can be impossible to do ‘things’. An example is doing a cp stat visit on a family who won’t let you in or have left the country. Lac stat visit on children who are missing.
    It’s a shame these things are not explored. Makes social workers appear as naughty children who are just not doing as asked because they can’t be bothered? Come on people who bother to be In this job, in a failing authority are not sitting around thinking how can I piss people off or not do as I’ve been asked. The reasons will generally make sense, if it’s looked into. But it won’t be. Do as I say or else…….

    • Kirby January 18, 2017 at 12:26 am #

      Couldn’t agree more! The role between Manager and Social Worker is widening, gone are the days when Supervision (when you get it) was a supportive process, unfortunately it is very much looking at “housekeeping and auditing of ICS” so Manager can take findings back to senior management. Everybody appears preoccupied with being reported to the HCPC and there is a real sense of watching your own back.

      The role is Increasingly more about challenging Senior Management, begging for funding to ensure a LAC can remain in their the only stable placement they have known and making calls to IT help desk as there is another system error or you have forgot your log in details as you have had a few days off.

      I’m not sure I was prepared well enough for all of the above “back in the day” whilst doing my Diploma.

      Sad how things have become, currently writing this whilst being awake as can’t sleep… remembered I haven’t invited a health visitor to a core group and did I actually book the room…. sound familiar??

  2. Hawkins January 17, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    You have explained quite well how things work within the local authority with too many managers making decisions based on targets rather than a child focused approach. The scape goat is always the social worker who has little time to do the job well as over loaded by the system.

  3. Alex January 17, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    I work in a LA where I cannot trust the judgement of my manager. He lies through his teeth in written correspondence which he always shares with senior managers. I have made formal complaints about his persistent poor practice and given examples where this does not match his written words. He is still in a job. Had the roles been reversed I would have been in front of the the joke that is the HCPC….

  4. Anita Singh January 19, 2017 at 4:25 am #

    Alex, I absolutely appreciate your predicament. I had to work with a manager who repeatedly made agreements with families when preparing formal Written Agreements in relation to the safeguarding of their child/ren. However, when I drafted what the manager had decided should go into the agreement, she then changed her mind, on a number of occasions, and then asked me to remove specific agreements. She then left me to explain her actions to the families, who were upset and questioned whether they could trust the LA to work fairly and in partnership with them.

    Where and how do such scenarios get recorded? What do you do, get into a head-to-head with her in supervision? If I did, how likely is it that she would record such discussions, when she had already reneged on formal written agreements? Even if I recorded it electronically, I have known my locked records to have been removed from ICS and then Liquid Logic. How would Ofsted ever come to know of such practise? Apart from the family and their children, who else would come off worse?

    These are dangerous days, to say what you think is to dig your own grave….