Ofsted inspectors recently acknowledged the significant transformation that has taken place at Wakefield Council to ensure that children and young people are ‘at the centre of all practice’.
Believed to be one of the most successful improvement journeys carried out, the council’s children’s services have now been rated as good with outstanding leadership, just three years after they were judged as inadequate by Ofsted.
The Ofsted report includes a clear recognition that good and effective social work practice is flourishing in Wakefield, children’s emotional and mental health has been given a high priority and that children only come into care when it is in their best interests to do so. It highlights that Wakefield social workers have manageable caseloads and that children are benefiting from consistent support, building and sustaining relationships with social workers.
Social workers’ dedication
Vicky Schofield, interim director of children and young people services said: “The changes could not have been achieved without the commitment and dedication of staff.
“We are extremely proud that when our social workers spoke to Ofsted they were, without exception, very enthusiastic about working for Wakefield. Our colleagues recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made and want to stay in Wakefield to be part of the continued improvement journey.”
We want continue to build on these strong foundations by recruiting even more colleagues to join our social work team.
Ms Schofield added: “We are very proud of the achievements our social workers as we can see the difference they are making to the lives of children and families.
“We thrive on teamwork, a supportive working environment, with strong and visible leadership combined with a manageable workload, and a learning culture with opportunities for training and development, so it’s a great time to join us.”
Social work teams benefit from our ‘connecting practice’ model, which is rooted in restorative approaches, whilst maintaining a focus on identifying and triangulating evidence of risk through multiple sources.
This is combined with providing our social workers with outstanding visible leadership at all levels of management, so that social workers benefit from the right support, tools, and skills so that they can thrive while supporting children and families to make real changes.”
Ofsted recognised the approach and, in its report said: “Workers are tenacious, skilled and thoughtful, with a strong commitment to delivering good-quality services to children.”
It also praised services as “sustainable, ambitious and child-focused service with strong governance arrangements in place”.
As part of the improvement progress a well-resourced, innovative learning academy is in place that allows social workers to benefit from excellent support, training, and development.
Social work flourishing
Ms Schofield said: “This has allowed us to build an environment where good and effective social work is flourishing and where Ofsted found that staff ‘without exception’ are very enthusiastic about working for Wakefield.”
We have welcomed 124 qualified social workers over the last 18 months, but we still have a small number of opportunities for people to join the team here in Wakefield.
Roles are available for social workers doing their assessed and supported year in employment, grade 9-11 social workers and advanced practitioners.
These are challenging and complex positions, made even more so by the impact of the pandemic. But here in Wakefield social workers are fully supported to feel safe, whilst also continuing their vital work with children and families. Teams work flexibly across the district – with a mix of office and homeworking available – whilst staying connected to each other and with the continued support by their manager and other colleagues.
The Wakefield Families Together multi-agency arrangement in place was also praised by inspectors as “having a positive impact” on children and families. This approach brings together co-located groups of multi-disciplinary staff clustered around schools across the district, creating improved partnership arrangements, providing earlier and more effective help to families.
Social workers have manageable caseloads of no more than 15 for those doing their ASYE and advanced practitioners, and around 20 for other staff.
Ms Schofield added: “We are looking for social workers who want to join us as we take our next positive strides in creating sustainable high-quality services for children and families in our district.”
For an informal discussion you can contact:
- Sean Segal, head of service – safeguarding, quality and learning (07880 010548, firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Monica Green, head of service – locality & integrated front door (07920 299798, email@example.com)
To view a video, highlighting some of the key quotes and parts of our recent Ofsted report, click here.