Ofsted inspectors have praised a council’s commitment to “do the right thing” in a monitoring inspection of children’s services.
The watchdog said Lambeth’s “uncompromising approach to ‘do the right thing’ has made a positive and discernible difference to the help, protection and care experienced by vulnerable children”.
The council’s children’s services were rated ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted in 2015, but a monitoring inspection published this week said the quality of social work practice had “improved considerably”.
“Managers have made clear progress in embedding a stronger performance culture. Most children in need of help and protection are visited quickly, following allocation. Children are seen alone and direct work to understand their lived experiences is increasingly evident,” the report said.
It said most social workers and managers in Lambeth were positive about working there, and that the council’s workforce strategy had been “instrumental” to reductions in caseloads and numbers of agency staff.
The frequency of supervision for social workers had improved, but was not always happening at the targeted four-weekly frequency, the inspection found.
“When it does take place, it is thorough and involves the testing of hypotheses and agreed actions. Regular group supervision is clearly valued by social workers, as is the additional mentoring provided by advanced practitioners.”
The inspection was the last monitoring visit before a planned re-inspection next year, and Annie Hudson, strategic director of children’s services in Lambeth, said the findings were “helpful”.
“However, we are not at all complacent and do not underestimate the challenges that continue to face us. We will continue to focus relentlessly on making sure everything that is necessary is done to make sure that children and families in Lambeth benefit from consistently high-quality support and protection,” Hudson said.