Children’s services improvement is ‘energetic yet realistic’

Work to improve Somerset’s services for children is ‘energetic yet realistic’, according to the latest feedback from Ofsted.

Inspectors visited for two days during May to look at the quality of social work practice. The resulting report discussed today by the Council’s Cabinet highlighted many positives, concluding that the pace of change is adequate but ‘now needs to accelerate’.

Inspectors found many positives during their visit, including decisions to look after children ‘are mostly timely and robust’, significantly improved case summaries across all areas, children’s advocates being used effectively and improvements to long-term placement stability.

“The local authority is energetic in its approach, yet realistic about the improvements that are still required” reads the report.

They recognise progress across the service but also highlighted areas where more is needed – for example in the consistency of assessments and plans, the timing of health assessments and work to meet mental health needs.

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Somerset County Council said: “We are glad Ofsted has recognised the improvements and progress that is being made and completely accept their desire to increase the pace of change.

“Caseloads have fallen, placement stability has improved and the sharing of information between staff and partners is better. These are all big successes, but we still have a long way to go and we want to get there as quickly as we can.

“The plans and resources are already in place and being put into practice and we are working tirelessly to speed up the pace of improvements. There are plenty of examples of good practice across our service and we have to make sure that practice is consistent across the board.”

A copy of the Inspectors full findings can be found here https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/somerset/057_Monitoring visit of LA children%27s services as pdf.pdf