Article updated 13 June
Appointing personal assistants to support social workers has helped give practitioners time to work directly with children and families in an ‘outstanding’ children’s service.
In an Ofsted judgment published this week, inspectors praised the impact of targeted investment in Hampshire children’s services and a “highly successful” large-scale transformation of the service.
Services in Hampshire were rated ‘outstanding’ across the board and inspectors praised leaders who had worked purposefully to improve services in the county, which had been judged ‘good’ five years ago.
“Strong political and corporate support and well-targeted financial investment have helped the leadership team to implement an ambitious transformation programme. This has created the capacity, training and infrastructure to enable social workers to engage more purposefully with children and their families,” inspectors found.
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The transformation has seen the creation of more social work posts, an innovative pathway of support for newly qualified social workers and specialist multi-disciplinary teams that support “an increasingly holistic approach to children’s needs”.
Personal assistants in Hampshire provide administrative support to social workers, including by tracking and monitoring visits, typing up notes and minute taking.
“The appointment of personal assistants to support social workers, combined with improved technology and the implementation of the strengths-based social work model, the ‘Hampshire Approach’, have equipped social workers with the tools, skills and time to work directly with children and families,” the report said.
As a result of this, social workers were positive about working in the council, and they valued innovative approaches to technology and flexible working.
“Management oversight is rigorous and effective, consistently ensuring that children’s plans are progressed at the right pace,” inspectors found.
‘Commitment to continually improving practice’
Hampshire council’s leader Keith Mans, said the council was proud of the high standard of its children’s services and of its national reputation as a high-performing authority.
“[This is] evident in the many partnerships that we have with other councils who have sought our guidance and expertise to help further improve their own services,” Mans said, offering congratulations to staff and management at the council.
“As Ofsted has commented, ‘children’s lives consistently improve as a result of the help they receive’ and this would not happen without the skill and professionalism of those who support them and their commitment to continually improving practice,” Mans said.