Read our statement in response to the publication of an Ofsted letter following a recent planned visit of our children's services department
Ofsted has published their letter this week following a planned visit of our children’s services on 7 July 2021, in line with the inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS) framework.
During the recent visit inspectors reviewed our arrangements for children in need and children subject to a child protection plan. They looked at a wide range of evidence, including interviews with staff, discussions with senior leaders and case discussions with social workers and team managers. They also looked at our performance management and quality assurance information and children’s case records.
Ofsted identified three areas for priority action:
- Address inconsistent and variable social work practice to ensure that children are the focus of assessments, planning and interventions.
- The frequency and effectiveness of case supervision and the monitoring of children who are subject to child in need and child protection planning.
- Shortfalls in case-holding capacity for social workers, including newly qualified social workers, to allow them to respond effectively to children in need of help and protection.
Inspectors recognised the significant changes recently made to the senior leadership for children’s services and stated the following:
“The new leadership team in place since March 2021 has completed a comprehensive critical evaluation of practice across the service. This team has begun to understand the challenges that need to be resolved in order to improve practice; they have accurately identified the necessary priorities for improvement. An improvement plan has been developed that appropriately addresses the concerns. This has corporate backing, including a financial commitment to support the improvement plan.”
Councillor Diana Toynbee, Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting and Catherine Knowles, Director for Children and Families, shared:
“We welcome the findings of the report, Ofsted’s priority actions reflect those identified by the new leadership team. It was reassuring that Ofsted confirmed we knew ourselves well and recognised that our areas to improve have already been agreed through our newly formed, multi-agency, Children and Families Improvement Board.
“Our Children’s Improvement Plan forms the basis of the long-term vision and changes to Herefordshire’s children’s services. The delivery of this plan is monitored through the Improvement Board that is independently chaired by Gladys Rhodes-White, Department for Education Advisor, to ensure that real and sustainable improvements are made. This partnership approach will help to ensure that children are at the heart of everything we do and we support and help children, young people, and their families at the right time, in the right way.
“We are fortunate to have passionate and dedicated staff, managers, members, partners, foster carers and the children and young people themselves and we will continue to work together to achieve a Good Ofsted rating, but we recognise that this will take time.”
You can view the full Ofsted report for the 7 July 2021 visit here.
If anyone has concerns about the way they, or someone they know, have been treated by Herefordshire Children’s Social Care services, you can contact us at www.herefordshire.gov.uk/careconcerns or email CareConcerns@herefordshire.gov.uk