Agenda and minutes

Member Development, Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 15 July 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Web ex meeting. View directions

No. Item


Member Development - Children's Services Improvement Journey pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Members to gain an understanding of the council’s improvement journey following on from the Ofsted inspection in 2017.


To understand how these reports can inform on the improvement journey, what is going well, what is not, and what is being done to address concerns:-

Ø  Improvement Board Update

Ø  Accelerated Improvement Plan

Ø  Quality Assurance Framework

Ø  Performance Report


Additional documents:


1.1       The purpose of the member development session was to give members an overview of the children’s services improvement journey following the Ofsted inspection in 2017. Andrew Ireland, Independent Chair of the Children’s Services Improvement Board was in attendance.

            (A recording of this development session is available at this link


1.2       The Director of Children’s Services (DCS) described the journey that the council has been on following the Ofsted Inspections in 2011 (Requires Improvement) and 2017 (Inadequate).


1.3       The improvement journey has been challenging and was ongoing. The Ambassadors for Vulnerable Children and Young People still reported that children in care were commenting on the number of different social workers they receive.


1.4       The DCS informed members that there had been a significant reduction in the number of agency social workers in post during this time. The Social Work Academy had been established to support newly qualified social workers and to provide opportunities to change the culture; this also supported the council’s aim to ‘grow its own’ social workers.


1.5       The council had received funding from the DfE to support the training and development of social workers. An accredited training system was in place and the aim was to ensure that every social worker undertook the course. The last Ofsted focussed visit had made reference to the training and the improved practice.


1.6       The overarching ambition was to provide a service that our young people deserved.


1.7       The quality audit process was described, including that each month dip sampling was undertaken. The Ambassadors were involved in this process.


1.8       The Independent Chair of the Children’s Services Improvement Board informed members that he agreed, on the whole, with the view of the DCS. There was a fighting chance that the council would achieve a requires improvement rating at the next inspection. This would depend on the robustness of the performance reporting, and on cases not being identified as having areas of concern (this did not happen during the last focus visit).


1.9       There had been challenges regarding the robustness of the ICT systems. It was explained that this had impacted on staff morale; this had come through clearly on the latest staff survey. Plans were in place to improve the system; it was expected that the changes would be in place by Christmas. During the inspection it would be important to demonstrate what was being done to mitigate/negate the impact of this risk on practice. The Independent Chair indicated that that ICT had been included in his report as an area of concern. He was clear that this was a risk for the inspection. It would be a serious risk if the system failed whilst the Inspectors were in-house; it was also explained that the inspectors would spend a lot of time sitting with the social workers and would therefore hear their experiences first hand.


1.10     It was explained that early in the lockdown period the number of referrals to the MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.