Last month saw Portsmouth council attract a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted in the latest inspection of their children’s services.
Community Care caught up with the council’s director of children and families, Alison Jeffery, who explains in the second of our Ofsted interview podcasts how the council has bolstered its performance with a solid quality assurance programme and a platform for extensive training and development opportunities for frontline staff.
Listen to the interview featuring Jeffery talking about Portsmouth council’s journey below, or subscribe to the series on iTunes, and read our quick table for the key findings from Ofsted’s inspection.
Highlights from the Ofsted inspection: Portsmouth council
|Area of service||Ofsted inspection findings 2018|
|The experience and progress of children who need help and protection||Good: The use of a restorative practice model and a single assessment, supported by standardised assessment tools, are key elements of the integrated offer. Children are appropriately referred to social work services when their needs increase. Senior leaders recognise that there is more to do to strengthen stepping down arrangements when statutory intervention is no longer required.|
|The experience and progress of children who need help and protection||Good: Social workers recognise contextual safeguarding risks well. Children are well supported by decisive interventions. Children benefit from a range of well-commissioned services that increase their sense of well-being and reduce risk. Risk assessment tools inform decision-making regarding the level of concern,
and wider risks are managed through the missing, exploited and trafficked strategy meeting.
|The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers||Good: Permanence is considered at the earliest opportunity for most children. Foster to adopt is considered and implemented when appropriate to support early permanence. Social workers recognise the importance of promoting all aspects of permanence, including special guardianship and adoption. High quality special guardianship assessments enable good decisions regarding whether children can safely stay within their extended family network.|
|The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers||Good: Social workers have good relationships with children. Children’s wishes and feelings are actively sought and acted on. Children’s records are child friendly; they bring the child to life and evidence a real sense of care. Sensitive and thoughtful direct work influences planning and interventions for children. Life story work helps children understand their situations, but not all children have access to a life-story book.|
|The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families||Good: The local authority’s approach to improvement is reflective and systematic. Senior leaders have built an impressive quality assurance system. Performance management information and audit activity provides leaders with a good knowledge and understanding of social work practice. Quality assurance activity is rigorous in highlighting strengths and weaknesses. Areas for development are systematically responded to, leading to timely action and improved performance.|
|The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families||Good: The local authority has taken the right steps to attract and retain staff at all
levels, including newly qualified social workers, who are well supported through their assessed and supported year in employment. Senior managers monitor workloads to ensure that they are maintained at manageable levels. Where they are not, additional agency staff are recruited. Social workers and managers have good access to opportunities for further development through the well-regarded ‘Stronger Futures’ academy.
|Overall effectiveness||Good: Effective planning has led to a more secure and stable workforce, and most workers have manageable caseloads. Strong political and corporate support for children’s services ensures that children’s needs are prioritised.|
|Overall effectiveness||Good: The participation of and direct work with children and families are key strengths. Social workers are supported to deliver meaningful intervention to sustain positive change and safe long-term outcomes for children. Children are at the heart of social work practice.|