Buckinghamshire Council Children's Service goes under the Ofsted microscope

Ofsted inspectors visited Buckinghamshire on 24 and 25 February to carry out an unannounced visit and assess how the Council is running children’s social care services during the pandemic.

By Thomas Bamford
Monday, 12th April 2021, 2:32 pm

They highlighted two areas that were in need of improvement:

What needs to improve in this area of social work practice

◼ The effectiveness of management oversight and supervision to ensure that actions are completed and that children’s plans are progressed.

Ofsted re-inspected Buckinghamshire council children's service

◼ The effectiveness of quality assurance arrangements, promoting the involvement of practitioners in case auditing and increasing the focus on the impact of practice on children’s experiences.

On the whole, things appear to be moving in the right direction despite issues with the pandemic.

They saw a huge increase in demand as Coronavirus proliferated across the UK and Buckinghamshire

The inspection was carried out remotely, using video calls for interviews with social workers, managers, leaders and partners, carers and children, all within national and local guidelines for COVID-19.

The full report published today can be found here:

https://files.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50161896The report found the following had improved:

◼Strong partnership arrangements have ensured the provision of support to the most vulnerable children in Buckinghamshire throughout the pandemic.

◼Leaders have an accurate understanding of the service and have maintained a firm focus on doing the best for children and families.

◼The senior leadership team has focused relentlessly on the well-being of the workforce. Staff value the exceptional support that they have received from leaders and managers and talked positively about working for Buckinghamshire.

◼The recruitment and retention of a stable workforce rightly remain the top priority in the local authority’s improvement plan.

◼The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) provides a proportionate response to initial concerns about children.

◼Threshold decisions about the provision of early help are proportionate, and transfers between early help and children’s social care are managed well.

◼Leaders have developed clear expectations about visiting children during the pandemic, including returning to face-to-face visiting where possible. Most children are visited in accordance with their needs; however, despite improving practice in this area, visiting is not always timely for some children.

◼The local authority and schools have worked together well since the start of the pandemic.

◼The pre-proceedings phase of the Public Law Outline is used effectively to safeguard children; however, some practice shortfalls lead to some delays that are not purposeful.

◼Children in care have continued to make some progress despite the challenges presented by the pandemic. Most live in stable homes that meet their needs, with carers who are committed to them.

◼Care leavers benefit when they have established relationships with personal advisers, but this is not always possible given changes in the workforce. For some, this negatively affects the progression of their plans.

◼Leaders have strengthened commissioning arrangements. This is beginning to deliver results, with greater scrutiny of unregulated provision and the vast majority of care leavers now living in suitable accommodation.