Ofsted update – December 2013

Ofsted update 3 December 2013 – Improving child protection in Devon sent to children’s services staff and Board members:

Ofsted has recognised that when they assess local authority arrangements for the protection of children as inadequate, walking away and leaving us with the fall out and no support is not good practice. So they are testing a new approach with us on how they can better support local authority improvements. We are one of three local authorities to participate in this pilot.

For the next three months Ofsted will audit six or seven cases per month. These cases are randomly selected and will focus on an agreed area of work. We have also asked Ofsted if they have some examples of excellent audit processes that we could learn from.

Our first seven cases focused on children who had been on plan for 18 months or more.

Fiona Fitzpatrick audited these last week using the Devon audit approach and template. We then sent her audits to Ofsted for them to review alongside some of our performance information. They then reviewed the case files yesterday and also met with the case holding social worker and their manager. We then got feedback yesterday late afternoon.

I thought you would want to hear the key messages which were:

Areas to improve

  • Assessments – more focus needed on analysis and research base
  • Risk assessments – use of new tool variable
  • Child protection plans – too long and not sufficiently focused on what needed to change
  • Children were seen alone but plans are too adult focused
  • Multi agency working – patchy
  • Supervision notes – case focused with less evidence of reflection and challenge.

What is improving

  • Use of chronologies
  • Effective use of Family Group Conferencing
  • Good use of advocacy for children and young people to attend conferences
  • Social workers feel supported by managers
  • Multi agency working – great example of joint working with schools
  • More recent work on cases was showing some positive change in our practice.

The next audits will focus on new cases (last six months) subject to a child protection plan. Once we have the case details Fiona will be in touch with the social workers and their managers to arrange the audit process. On this occasion she will meet with the practitioners to discuss the cases more fully and gain a more complete view. We will consider building this into our on-going audit arrangements if its not too burdensome for you all.

I want us to see this very much as a learning and improvement opportunity and we will learn how to improve practice and the process to achieve this together.

Best wishes

Jennie Stephens, Strategic Director People