Social work practice improving at ‘inadequate’ children’s trust, Ofsted says

A children’s services removed from council control has improved practice but oversight and supervision not consistent

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Inspectors have said the quality of social work practice in an ‘inadequate’ council is improving, despite management oversight and supervision not being consistently good.

A monitoring inspection in Slough children’s services trust said social workers made “stringent efforts to build trusting relationships with children” and found most assessments were “informed by history”, were comprehensive, and effectively explored risk and protective factors.

“Skilled workers in the multidisciplinary innovation hub deliver intensive intervention, including support outside of office hours. This helps children to remain in the care of their families when appropriate,” inspectors found.

The inspection report added that social workers and support workers spoke positively about the benefit of co-working with each other to support children.

Supervision standards

Despite the improvements noted in social work practice, the overall pace of improvement in Slough had been “slow”, and management oversight “lacked rigour”.

“As a result, there is sometimes drift and delay in action when risks to children increase, or progress is limited or not sustained,” the report said.

The trust had taken steps to remedy this by introducing refreshed supervision standards and performance monitoring, but it was too early to measure impact.

“There is a developing performance management culture within the service. Performance information is in place and used by managers. Recently introduced performance surgeries ensure frontline managers are held to account for their hub’s performance,” inspectors said.

Workforce stability had improved over 2017, inspectors said, with 81% of staff now permanent and speaking positively about working in the trust.

Most of the workforce’s caseloads were deemed “manageable” but inspectors found a minority of social workers holding caseloads of more than 30 children.

Slough children’s trust chief executive Nicola Clemo, said the report showed the trust was “getting there”.

“I’m confident our management oversight improvements will be clearly demonstrable by the next visit and that by the time of our full 4-week Ofsted inspection later this year, all these elements will come together to show the vast improvement we’ve made to children’s services in Slough.”

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