A re-inspection of Knowsley Council’s Children’s Services by Ofsted last month has concluded that significant improvements have been made in the transformation of children’s social care and the services delivered by Knowsley Council and partners.
The achievements made have been supported by a Council-wide strategy that makes improving outcomes for vulnerable children in Knowsley ‘everybody’s businesses’. Ofsted stated that the Council has achieved these improvements through a wholesale and effective cultural and structural transformation.
Today, Ofsted has judged Children’s Services as ‘requires improvement’ overall, but three out of five areas were judged to be ‘good’ (two of which were judged as ‘inadequate’ in 2014). Services were reviewed and judgements made against five key areas – adoption, care leavers, leadership, management and governance, help and protection, children looked after.
The Council been inspected against a new inspection framework which focusses on the experience of children who needed, or still need help or protection, including looked after children and care leavers, considering both quality of work and the difference it makes.
Ofsted inspectors interviewed staff at all levels across the organisation, as well as children, families and partners, and reviewed case files.
Key highlights from the inspection include:-
- Leadership, management and governance has been rated good (rated inadequate in 2014), with senior leaders and elected members being visible, accessible and well informed.
- The local authority has achieved significant improvement in social work practice at every stage in the child’s journey through effective leadership and creating the right environment for good social work to flourish.
- Children in Knowsley are increasingly receiving high quality services because of effective planning, strong partnership working, a good Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and the investment in Early Help.
- The local authority has invested in providing workers with high quality tools to support them to do their job well. This includes an improved physical environment, along with technology to support mobile working and tools to support effective practice with children and families.
- The Adoption Service was rated as good (rated inadequate in 2014) with excellent progress in promoting permanence through adoption.
- Adopters feel that the process is transparent and they feel well supported through each stage.
- Support for Care Leavers was also judged as good with people leaving the care system feeling well supported by their Personal Advisors.
- Care Leavers have trusting relationships with staff who ‘go the extra mile’ to ensure that they are helped to make the right choices and develop the right skills.
- MADE (Making a Difference Everywhere – a group who represent and share the views of children looked after) is regularly consulted and has made a valuable contribution to improving services.
Cllr Joan Lilly, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said “I’m delighted with this judgement, which reflects the hard work and commitment of our staff and partners in delivering services to our children, young people and families. For Ofsted to identify so many areas of improvement, referring to our cultural and structural transformation in children’s social care is a great achievement in such as short space of time. This really has been a whole Council approach, supported by our partners, with all services playing their part. I look forward to building on this success as we continue to further develop our services and ensure our children and families get the best from us in order for them to develop their own potential and prosper.”
Bec Burrows, a Social Worker in Children’s Social Care, added “I started to work at the Council shortly after the Ofsted inspection in 2014. Children’s social care in Knowsley has completely transformed and the place is unrecognisable compared to three years ago. Just a few examples of how things have changed includes better communications at a team and corporate level, a better working environment, the co-location of teams has improved cross-team working, investment in technology and tools has helped us to do our jobs and engage with our children’s and families in different ways. It really is a great place to work and I’m pleased that Ofsted has formally recognised the great service we deliver.”
Justin, Chair of the MADE Group, said “Meeting Ofsted gave us the chance to give them examples of what we do to improve things for children in care. It’s good that Ofsted included us in their inspection because we can tell them how it is in reality. We told Ofsted about our Corporate Parenting Board meetings, where we talk to Council bosses about plans for improving care for children. We do feel listened to.”
You can read Ofsted’s full report here.
We caught up with Paul Boyce, Knowsley Council’s Executive Director (Children) to find out more about what the latest inspection results mean for the borough. Read our interview.