Improvement Notice lifted after significant progress in council’s children’s services
Ofsted recognised the significant progress Gloucestershire County Council has made in many areas of its children’s services since the last inspection.
An Improvement Notice for Gloucestershire County Council’s children’s services has been lifted after a recent Ofsted inspection found ‘significant progress’ had been made.
Inspectors applauded the council for its ‘relentless drive for improvement’ by both senior leaders and staff, saying children are now better protected in the area. However, the report warned that services for children are not yet consistently good.
“Beginning from a very low base, there has been a relentless drive for improvement by both senior leaders and staff. This, along with significant financial investment and the backing of political leaders, has led to improved services that are now more effective in meeting the needs of children and families,” the inspection report said.
“As a result of these improvements to services and support for children, they are now better protected.”
An Improvement Notice is a direction issued to children’s services with central government intervention, generally following an Ofsted inspection grading as ‘Inadequate’, under the current Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) framework.
The assessment was the first full inspection of the council’s children’s services since its ‘Inadequate’ judgement in 2017, when it found ‘serious concerns’ about the integrity of the then senior leadership team and that the quality of social work practice was not sufficiently prioritised resulting in ‘serious and widespread failures for children in need of help and protection’.
However, after the most recent assessment inspectors praised the proportionate and timely action to provide help and support, adding that “children are no longer left in situations where they are known to be at immediate risk of significant harm without appropriate action being taken, nor are there any serious or widespread failures in the services provided to children.”
Inspectors also commended social workers for their passion in achieving the best for children they support and how a more stable workforce is helping to deliver better support for children and young people. The council’s social work academy, another area of strength identified by inspectors, was also said to support the council in delivering a strong, effective workforce for years to come.
Chris Spencer, Executive Director for Children and Young People Services, praised the social work staff at the council.
“I want to say a big thank you to the many dedicated and passionate staff we have working with children and families in this county. It is largely down to their efforts and drive that we have been able to achieve the level of improvement set out in Ofsted’s report today.
“In the face of a global pandemic such positive outcomes are even more special and, whilst there is still more to be done, we can be proud of the significant progress we have made.”
Despite the improvements, inspectors warned there remains more to do to ensure that all children benefit from improved services, such as improving the timeliness and application of consistent thresholds for child protection strategy meetings, the suitability of accommodation for care leavers, and the quality of case supervision and management. The IT systems that support social workers to do their jobs was also identified as an area for improvement.
Cllr Stephen Davies, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Gloucestershire County Council, said the report was one that staff could be proud of.
“We know we still have work to do to get to where we want to be; inspectors have highlighted key areas in their report. Addressing these areas will be our focus for the coming months and years.
“We’ve got what it takes to be rated 'Good' by Ofsted and I have no doubt we will get there – the children, young people and families of this county deserve it.”
Read the full Ofsted report (PDF): https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50180552
£38,223 to £40,221
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