The director of social care at Ofsted has outlined the “key principles” of successfully implementing new social work models in children’s services.
Eleanor Schooling said in a blog that Ofsted did not have a preferred model of delivery and wanted to support innovation happening across the sector.
She said the best implementation of new models occurs when there is a whole system approach and the models “build staff confidence”.
“Areas that get basic practice right are most likely to succeed in implementing their chosen model,” Schooling said.
She added key ingredients to success for implementing a new model included:
- A stable workforce
- Manageable caseloads
- Effective management oversight and frequent supervision
- Highly visible leaders and managers
- A strong culture of learning
- Good qualitative assurance, performance monitoring and performance management arrangements
- Mature partnerships with other agencies.
“Alongside an effective implementation strategy, these elements allow for a coherent model that supports social workers to respond effectively to children and families,” Schooling said.
Schooling warned though that new models could lead to a “loss of focus” on the service’s core task.
“Where implementation isn’t effective, we see inconsistent use or misinterpretation of the chosen model.
“This can lead to over optimism and a lack of effective planning for children and families. In some cases, models are used in a mechanistic way – processes are followed, but without the application of professional knowledge, skills, and judgement. No approach can work effectively under these circumstances.”
To overcome challenges posed by a new model, Schooling said, the secrets of success were consistency of relationships between social workers and families, joint working with other agencies and a whole family focus to addressing needs.
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