The service that children in care receive in Slough is ‘much better’ than it was two years ago and there are ’positive improvements’ at Slough Children’s Services Trust, according to Ofsted inspectors.
The inspectors, who visited the trust between May 1-2, praised the constructive relationships between social workers, team managers and independent reviewing officers (who monitor the effectiveness of children’s care plans) and found the majority of children in the trust’s care lived in safe, stable homes which met their needs well.
This was the Ofsted’s sixth monitoring visit to Slough Children’s Services Trust and will be the last visit before the next full inspection.
During the visit inspectors focused on four themes relating to children in care:
1) Thresholds for care and the quality of support provided to children in care
2) Assessments, care planning and planning for permanence
3) Management oversight and recording on children’s files and
4) The effectiveness of the Trust’s independent reviewing service.
Inspectors found that most children who become looked after were assessed appropriately, placed swiftly and that staff made positive progress towards early permanence. In addition, children’s individual and diverse needs were well documented. Review meetings were child-centred and written directly to the child, in plain language which was easily understand.
Leaders at the Trust have strengthened performance management information on frontline practice, which was shared regularly with managers, helping them to monitor practice and hold staff to account.
Inspectors found that action was swift where deficits in social work practice were identified and action plans were quickly put in place.
In addition, they found the workforce was increasingly stable and the number of children with two or more social workers in the last 12 months had reduced from 38% in February 2017 to 24% in February 2018.
While inspectors found that in a small number of cases the service was not consistent and that there is more to do to ensure that all children who need care are identified early and authoritative action taken quickly, the overall impression was that much had improved and the Trust was clearly delivering more in terms of quality and standards.
‘We’re delighted with the findings, which show just how far we have come and what we’ve done to improve the lives and outcomes for children in our care,’ said interim chief executive Andrew Bunyan.
‘We know there are areas which still need addressing, in terms of consistency, management oversight and the quality of detail included in children’s care plans but we’re definitely getting there.
‘This is the first monitoring visit where all the previous hard work we’ve put in is starting to pay off and is clearly evident in our practice,’ he added.
The full report can be seen on Ofsted’s website: www.ofsted.gov.uk. The direct link (look for 25 May 2018) is: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/slough