The Ofsted Interview: ‘We weren’t just preparing for a one-off event’

How 'good' rated Hounslow council encourages challenge and transparency and has managed demand pressures for children's services

Last month, Hounslow council received a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted in the latest inspection of its children’s services.

The council was praised for a “timely and effective” front door service, despite rising demand, and was noted for its “high” staff morale and a “thoughtful and caring approach to working with children and their families”.

The latest of Community Care’s Ofsted Interview podcast series features Hounslow council’s director of children’s safeguarding and specialist services, Jacqui McShannon and councillor Tom Bruce, cabinet member for education, children and youth service, discussing how the council has encouraged challenge and managed demand pressures.

Listen to the interview featuring McShannon and Bruce talking about Hounslow council’s developments 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: Hounslow council

Area of service Ofsted inspection findings 2018
The experience and progress of children who need help and protection Requires improvement: When children’s needs are more complex, or risks to their welfare increase, the majority receive an effective, timely response to ensure that risks are reduced. Senior leaders, supported by Hounslow Safeguarding Children Board, have worked effectively with partners to raise the awareness and understanding of thresholds. This is resulting in better quality referrals
The experience and progress of children who need help and protection Requires improvement: Social workers know their children well and show a good understanding of the individual plans for each child, seeking children’s wishes and feelings during their timely visits. However, case recording does not always reflect the quality of the work being undertaken.
The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers Good:Social workers and managers are highly aspirational for the children in their care and demonstrate a determination to improve children’s experiences and outcomes. Full consideration is given to meeting children’s needs, and children make good progress when they come into care.
The experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers Good: Managers use a well-established, comprehensive system to pursue the most appropriate permanence options at an early stage for children in Hounslow. Adoption services have improved since the last inspection. Children are matched well and are placed with adopters more quickly than they were previously. Adopters and carers have access to a wide range of post-adoption and special guardianship support.
The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families Good:As part of wider service improvement, leaders have focused on developing services for children in need of help and protection, including highly effective systems to oversee and monitor the progress of children, such as those in both private and public proceedings, children on child protection plans for more than two years and children subject to repeat plans.
The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families Good:The children’s information recording system is being developed further to include live dashboards, and these will be available later this year. These changes have been introduced to further strengthen leaders’ understanding of performance and practice for children and their families.
Overall effectiveness Good: Leaders took prompt and effective action earlier in the year to tackle the unprecedented demand on referral and assessment services that had affected performance, and they are building further capacity for the future.
Overall effectiveness Good: Senior leaders know their services well. They have combined learning from previous inspections and peer reviews with their own monitoring arrangements to ensure that children receive timely and appropriate help to meet their individual needs.
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