Children's services in Manchester rated Good for the first time since inspections began
Inspectors say services for children have “significantly improved” since the last inspection in 2017, where the council received a ‘Requires Improvement’ rating.
Manchester City Council are now rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, eight years after an ‘Inadequate’ inspection where nearly 500 children were found to be waiting for a social worker.
The turnaround puts the council’s children’s services amongst the top performing local authorities for services to children in the North West. In 2017, a further inspection judged that services ‘Requires Improvement’, bringing the council out of special measures.
The rating follows a full inspection by Ofsted in March and is the first time the city has been rated Good since the body first started inspecting local authority services. Inspectors found that services for children in the city have ‘significantly improved’ since the last inspection in 2017, with three of the four main areas rated ‘Good’ (leadership, children in care and care leavers, overall effectiveness), with only the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection requiring improvement to be good.
Inspectors praised the improved social worker case-loads, and also found that children who are being exploited or at risk of being exploited or go missing from home are supported from an early stage with risks promptly identified with support provided to them through the complex safeguarding hub.
Ofsted also praised the stable and effective early help service for children who require early intervention, with prompt responses to requests for early help including from partner agencies.
Inspectors also found that political and senior leaders in the city have maintained a ‘consistently strong focus on improving practice’, that they work alongside their partners well, and have continued to improve services for most children despite the impact of COVID-19 on the workforce and on communities.
Leaders were also praised for having overseen an increasing the number of social workers and introducing a career pathway for them, as well as embedding a learning culture across the workforce – all of which have strengthened the local authority's ability to retain experienced social workers.
Inspectors also found that social workers themselves are positive about working in Manchester and value the support they get from managers, as well as the regular and effective communication they had with them throughout the pandemic, ensuring the whole workforce was up to speed on any changes and the expectations of them during this time.
Social workers who have been in Manchester since the previous inspection told inspectors they can see how the change in culture and practice in Manchester is improving children's lives.
Paul Marshall, Strategic Director for Children and Education Services, Manchester City Council, said the inspection report was a “testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff and partners”.
"Whilst we welcome the inspection findings and our Good rating we're far from complacent. We know there are things that we still need to improve and are fully sighted on them and are making the improvements we need to at pace.
"We're confident that we're heading in the right direction towards ensuring the very best outcomes for every child in the city and are certain Ofsted will see continued improvements when they next inspect us."
The inspection report by Ofsted highlighted areas for further work by the local authority, including better understanding of the effects of domestic abuse on children and their parents' lives, improving the quality and timeliness of children's written records and further work to recognise and meet the diverse needs of children arising from race, religion, ethnicity and culture. It also recommended further improvements in the practice around the care and protection of disabled.
Read the full report: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/44/80521
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