Ofsted publishes inspection report for Bradford Council

In February and March, Ofsted carried out an inspection of Bradford Council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers. It also reviewed the effectiveness of the local safeguarding children board.

 The full report has been published on the Ofsted website.

The report found that performance was Good in the following areas:

  • Children looked after and achieving permanence performance
  • Adoption
  • Experiences and progress of care leavers
  • Leadership, management and governance
  • The effectiveness of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board

The report found that performance in the following area requires improvement:

  • Children who need help and protection

The overall judgement is ‘requires improvement’ because of the limiting judgement of children in need of help and protection.

The Good judgements, however, mean that the Council leads effective services that help, protect and care for children and young people and for those who are looked after and care leavers. Ofsted acknowledge that the ‘requires improvement’ judgement means that “There are no widespread or serious failures that create or leave children being harmed or at risk of harm.” Children are safe. The service has seen a 25% increase in referrals and 40% increase in children on child protection plans – so additional resources are in place and work underway to improve processes. 

Michael Jameson, Strategic Director of Children’s Services, said:

“Ofsted found the majority of our services are good.  The inspection makes clear that vulnerable children across the district are being protected and no children were found to be at risk.

“There is much in the report that praises working practices that happen every day across the district at a time when the number of referrals is rising.”

“The report states that stable, consistent leadership has resulted in good outcomes for children and high standards of practice in the vast majority of service areas.”

“I would like to thank staff from all agencies for the challenging and rewarding work they carry out on behalf of Bradford.  The inspection confirms that they make a real difference to children’s lives.”

“The inspection findings provide a solid platform to deliver more effective services.  We have already started to address the issues highlighted and are committed to delivering the very best outcomes for Bradford’s children and families.”

Professor Nick Frost, Independent Chair of the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, said: “It is very encouraging that the procedures we have in place to protect children and young people across the district, and the way in which these are overseen, have been found by Ofsted to be good.

“Safeguarding children and young people is everybody’s responsibility, and we have placed considerable emphasis on working with voluntary organisations and the public to raise awareness of how we can all make children and young people’s lives safer. This is something that the inspection says is working.

“Of course we can never be satisfied, and we will continue to strengthen what we do so that children and young people across the district are at less risk from harm.”

In summary, the report found strengths which included:

  • “Stable, consistent leadership has resulted in good outcomes for children and high standards of practice in the vast majority of service areas.”
  • “Children are at the centre of social work and early help practice. Children’s voices and opinions are clearly evident and taken account of.”
  • “Direct work with children is of good quality and routinely undertaken by social workers who know the children they work with very well.”
  • “The quality of assessments overall is good and demonstrates sustained improvement since the last Ofsted inspection in 2012.”
  • “The co-location of police, social care and Barnardo’s within the Child Sexual Exploitation hub is a particular strength”.
  • “When children need to be looked after, they benefit from good quality services and care planning.” 
  • “Children who are looked after by the Council do well at school, have good attendance and are supported to engage with education at all ages.”
  • Young people who leave care “feel well supported”.
  • “Social workers have well managed workloads, so they have time to see children often and build meaningful relationships that are long lasting.”
  • “The workforce is stable and well qualified, with over half of social workers at an advanced level of professional development.”
  • “Attention and sensitivity to the individual needs of children and their families is good.”.
  • Bradford Safeguarding Children Board (BSCB) “has benefitted from consistent, good leadership by an independent chair supported by an effective Business Manager. “
  • “Strong commitment and shared responsibility characterise partnership working in Bradford, both operationally and strategically. “

The report identified that in a very few areas, improvements are required.  In summary, these are:

  • “Social workers and their managers do not regularly hold strategy discussions with the police before starting to carry out a child protection investigation.”
  • “Initial child protection case conferences to decide whether a child remains at risk of harm do not happen quickly enough.”
  • “Where conferences have been delayed, managers decided that children should be visited by their social worker every week to help protect them. This has not happened in every case.”
  • “In the very small number of cases where children have been neglected for a long time social workers and their managers must decide to take stronger action more quickly in every case to ensure that these children get better standards of care.”
  • “When allegations are made that professionals may have harmed children, cases are not progressed quickly enough on all occasions. Additional staff and management capacity are required to ensure that the service is always robust.”
  • “Private Foster Carers need to have their ability to care for a child and the place where they live thoroughly assessed by social workers.”

The Council is taking action to address these areas.  This has included:

  • Information has always been shared immediately with the Police Officer who works in the social work assessment team but in addition there is now a sergeant from West Yorkshire Police in the team who can plan the investigation with the social worker. Strategy meetings with the police are taking place immediately before a visit and throughout the joint investigation.
  • Two more qualified child protection co-ordinators are in place to chair case conferences aided by additional minute taking support. The social workers and child protection unit are working to timetable and conferences happen in the expected 15 working days.
  • In the two cases where children had not been seen on a weekly basis whilst waiting for a case conference, arrangements had been made for them to be seen by other professionals and at school.
  • The Safeguarding Board has done a lot of work to raise awareness about neglect. It has a clear threshold of need that describes different types of neglect and when a referral should be made to children’s social work teams. There has been investment in training and learning from serious case reviews. Cases are independently reviewed on a regular basis. Action is taken if the family situation does not improve.
  • The Council has a robust system to oversee all allegations made about adults who work with children in the district. This is managed on a daily basis by qualified and experienced child protection staff. There has been an increase in the number of allegations and these are all being managed effectively by the Police and social workers.
  • The service has a dedicated and experienced social worker to oversee all the private fostering cases to make sure that the families get consistent assessment and support. The Council took immediate action to provide Ofsted with evidence that appropriate checks had been made about private fostering situations.

 


Information

Published: 23/05/2014
Audience: Everyone
Contact: Steve Hemming

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