Findings of second Ofsted monitoring visit published

Ofsted inspectors say improvements continue to be made at Herefordshire Children’s Services – but more still needs to be done to ensure progress is consistent.

Inspectors visited the council’s service in June to review progress in the way the service cares for children in need of support and protection. They have published their findings today in a letter to the council’s Corporate Director for Children and Young people, Darryl Freeman.

Darryl Freeman said:

“The inspectors say that ‘practice is starting to improve and positive progress is being made with some families’ but add that the quality of practice in this area remains variable.

“That is a fair assessment and very much reflects our own analysis of the improvements to date. We know we are on the right path but that the pace of change needs to be quicker and improvements more consistently embedded.

“Our new partnership with colleagues from Leeds City Council will be a huge help in this regard. The experience and insight they bring – having been on this journey themselves and helped other children’s services too – will be invaluable in building the service we all want to see.

“I am encouraged that the inspectors report that some real improvements are under way, such as in management oversight and supervision and our audit processes, and that inspectors recognise that senior managers are proactive and open to learning from external organisations.

“I am also pleased that the inspectors recognise that social workers like working in Herefordshire and feel well supported. But I also accept that we need to do more to ensure that the quality of practice is consistent, that we reduce turnover of staff, cut down the number of re-referrals by ensuring sustained change has been made and improve the way we handle children’s plans.

Issues with housing and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children identified by the inspectors are also being addressed.”

Children’s Services were judged to be inadequate during an Ofsted inspection last July. When this happens Ofsted carries out regular monitoring visits which focus on areas which need most improvement. Today’s report follows a second monitoring visit by inspectors.

Council leader, Councillor Jonathan Lester, added:

“It is encouraging to note that the service is improving. The findings show that there is still much to do but they also highlight a significant step forward. The improvement of Children’s Services remains the top priority for the council and we are determined to work with Ofsted and our improvement partners to secure a better service.”

A full copy of the Ofsted letter can be read here.

Published: 2nd August 2023