Feedback from the first Ofsted monitoring visit of Herefordshire Council’s children’s services, since they were judged inadequate last summer, has been published by the council today.

Ofsted do not publish the findings of their first monitoring visits but the council has made them public by reporting them to cabinet as part of its commitment to be transparent and clear about the progress being made and the weaknesses still needing to be addressed.

Director of Children’s Services Darryl Freeman said that he was encouraged that inspectors had started to see some very real improvements but he agreed with them that these do not yet go far enough and the pace of change needs to accelerate.

He said:

“Of course it is encouraging to see some improvements beginning to show in critical areas, such as what is known as the front door of our services - the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub and I want to thank everyone involved in achieving this. Inspectors concluded most children’s needs were promptly identified and acted upon. It is also encouraging to see inspectors recognised the strides forward made in the activity by early help workers and the success of the relaunched early-help telephone line.

“However only last week, with the findings of the Families Commission report, was the scale of the challenge before us once again underlined. It is clear from this monitoring visit feedback and our own assessments that the improvements seen just eight months after the inspection do not yet go far enough and we remain committed to improving services for children and their families in Herefordshire.

“There is still poor practice and management oversight is not good enough. There remains weaknesses in the way we listen to children about their experiences. We need to urgently further increase our focus to drive forward far better standards of work in these areas.

“Inspectors concluded while improvement can be seen in some areas these do not go far enough. We agree. It is essential we regain trust of those families and children we are here to help and we are committed to doing just that.”

Children’s services were judged to be inadequate during an Ofsted Inspection last July. When this happens Ofsted carry out regular monitoring visits which focus on areas which need most improvement.

The first of these visits took place on March 29-30 with a focus on the ‘front-door’ to the service. View the findings of this visit. The findings will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Thursday, 22 June.

Cabinet member for Children and Young People Ivan Powell said:

“This monitoring report underlines our own awareness of our current progress. We are putting some critical blocks in place to build on, but we must continue our focus and further increase our drive to embed improvement and better practice across the service. I want to say thank you to our children’s services workforce who are working hard to bring about improvement and for the recognition of their efforts that this feedback letter brings.

“I would also like to acknowledge again those experiences shared by families in the recently published report and re state my commitment to ensuring that remains a central focus of our improvement journey.”

Published: 14th June 2023