Ofsted update – 15 August 2013

Ofsted update 15 August 2013 – Improving child protection in Devon sent to staff and Board members:

Visiting Gateshead and Lincolnshire – learning from other authorities

  • We have now agreed a visit to Gateshead Borough in October, with Lincolnshire date to be confirmed as soon as possible. The aim of the visits is to find out more about councils judged ‘good’ or more by Ofsted, and how they organise their safeguarding arrangements. It will be an opportunity for a cross section of staff to see how successful councils deliver quality, safe services within budgets and ensure systems and processes are as uncluttered and user friendly as possible.

Action Plan workstream updates

Quality of Practice

The contract for the ‘lean’ review of business process has been awarded to Bespoke Performance Solutions. The team, led by Emma Franklin, will be with us for the next five weeks to look in detail at processes and to have one-to-one sessions with key managers and staff. Initial findings will be fed back to the Staff Operational Sub-group on 29 August.


Early Help 

At a recent extra-ordinary meeting, the Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) supported the draft Early Help Strategy subject to formal consultation with agencies. This organisational consultation will run until the 11 September, with the outcome reported to DSCB on the 13 September.  A public consultation will be running alongside this through the autumn to ensure the Early Help offer is right for children and families. This is particularly important in reducing pressure in the child protection system.


The DSCB also supported the use of the new Devon Assessment Framework (DAF) as the common assessment across Early Help services. This is also subject to formal consultation with agencies, with the same timescales as the Strategy. It was noted that this development is building on the work of, and proceeding in conjunction with, the SEND Pathfinder project This will create a unique opportunity to have the same entry process to the Early Help and SEND pathways.


Work is also starting on mapping the range of Early Help services provided by the Council and our partners across Devon. This will confirm the Early Help services available and help us to identify gaps. It will also help us plan our engagement with children and families during the autumn, and to find out what they think. The findings from this work will be reported to the DSCB at its December meeting.


Quality Assurance

Work is progressing well with the QA workstream with the Framework completed and audit of 100 cases across child protection undertaken in July. A report is being prepared which will identify key findings and be disseminated to local managers in due course.


Devon Safeguarding Children Board update

Devon Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB) is focusing on four key priorities:

  1. Internal Governance
  2. Early Help
  3. Training and Development
  4. Information Quality Assurance.


The DSCB action plan and annual report will include these action areas and will be circulated in late August, with the next Board meeting taking place on September 13.


Increase in initial assessments

We are continuing to experience increases in referrals, initial assessments, section 47 enquiries, initial child protection conferences and Child Protection Plans compared with previous weeks.  In July, MASH received around 1,800 enquiries, up 400 enquiries on the previous month.


We have seen some success in recruiting additional staff, but recognise this remains a challenge.  We are in touch with temp solutions on a daily basis to try and improve this.  The temporary additional posts remain available and Operations Managers are also looking at utilising these for CCWs in the short term where appropriate.  “Tier 2” teams will now be focusing their energies on assessment activity, and our colleagues in YOT are supporting a number of areas in trying to work through the backlog.  Eight new ASYE’s were selected recently to start in the September co-hort.


By now, you should all be aware of “amnesty days” that have been agreed to help you deal with admin, recording and closure / transfer of cases.  It is particularly important that we don’t hold onto cases for longer than is necessary. If you aren’t aware of this please to speak to your manager and ensure this is built into your diary once a fortnight.


Safeguarding Improvement Board (SIB)

Professor Ray Jones has been appointed as Independent Chair of the SIB. Professor Jones is Professor of Social Work at Kingston University and St. Georges, University of London, and a registered social worker.  A former director of social services and director of adult and community services at Wiltshire County Council, Professor Jones was the founding first chief executive of the government-initiated Social Care Institute for Excellence and has been an expert witness in many social care inquiries.

The Board has welcomed:

  • Faith Jarrett, representing education.
  • Detective Superintendent Paul Northcott, representing Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.
  • Jenny Winslade, representing CCGs and NHS providers.

Progress with the Action Plan continues to be monitored closely by the SIB, with a detailed focus on one of the five themes in the Plan – beginning with Quality of Practice – at the next meeting.


Autumn staff briefings – 19 September 2013

Please remember to put Thursday 19 September 2013 in your diary and attend an update briefing at one of the following venues:

  • Barnstaple Library: 9.00am-10.30am
  • County Hall, Exeter: 12.00pm-1.30pm
  • Watermark Centre, Ivybridge: 3.00pm-4.30pm.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback at the briefings.


Keeping up-to-date

We will continue to update our Source staff website http://staff.devon.gov.uk/ofsted/ where all supporting documents and information can be found.

Contact us

Please do let us know through the dedicated mailbox of any particular problems or issues in your area and any ideas you have for how we can improve what we do. Also please do let us have feedback about this update bulletin. We will allocate each query or question to an officer and you should expect a timely response – please email peopleservices-mailbox@devon.gov.uk


Kind regards

Jennie Stephens                               Will Mumford