Somerset Children’s Services – no longer “Inadequate”

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It has been a long hard road and the latest Ofsted Inspection of the County Children’s Services team has been awaited with some trepidation. Another Inadequate assessment could have seen the service taken out of the County Council’s control.

So although “Requires Improvement” is not the sort of assessment that sounds like a winner, in this particular case it has to be seen as steady progress. A real shining beacon of hope in the report from Ofsted was Adoption Services which is now rated “Good”.

The report highlights both improved and good practise but also stresses there is still a long way to go. The following extracts give a flavour of the report…..

Since the last inspection in 2015, when Somerset children’s services were judged as inadequate overall, the local authority has made steady progress in improving the quality of services that children and young people receive”.

 “Services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, while requiring further improvement to be good, have improved from a very low starting point.”

Children who require adoption receive a good service.”

“While no children were found to be at immediate risk of harm during this inspection, the quality of practice remains variable and managers do not always challenge poor practice. Children’s assessments and plans remain inconsistent, and do not adequately capture children’s cultural and identity needs.

Social workers do not update assessments regularly enough.”

The turnover of staff and managers has been reduced and there has been significant investment in creating an environment that enables good practice to flourish. This includes smaller caseloads for social workers and increased frontline manager capacity.”

 “Most children looked after live in homes that meet their needs well. Fostering services are improving, but there are not enough foster homes for children whose needs are complex. As a result, too many children experience moves before they find the right home.

 “Adoption services are good and timely, and include effective use of fostering for adoption for a wide range of children.”

While the local authority has been successful in ensuring that basic practice standards are met, and that children are safe, it recognises that it must increase capacity in the senior leadership team so that the current pace of change is maintained and accelerated further. This reflects the scale of improvement required since the last inspection.”

There will be a full report in the February Leveller; for those who can’t wait and have patience to read the whole thing, you can find and download the Ofsted report here: 059_Single inspection of LA children’s services as pdf