Inspectors have today confirmed that progress has been made in all areas of child protection in Knowsley Council’s Children’s Services – which is good news for families and children living in the borough.
Ofsted has published its findings from a monitoring inspection conducted in August. This follows Ofsted’s last published report in June 2014 which rated the council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers as ‘inadequate’.
What did the monitoring inspection cover?
The inspection looked at how good child protection is in Knowsley. Ofsted looked at evidence including case records, supervision records, performance data and findings from quality assurance work. They also spoke to council staff, including social workers, child protection conference chairs, managers and senior leaders.
What was the outcome?
Inspectors said that progress has been made in all areas of help and protection, especially the help given to children who are subject to a child protection plan.
Ofsted’s main findings included:
- Children in the cases reviewed are now benefiting from stable social work support from a worker who knows them well. This is as a result of the recruitment of permanent suitably qualified staff and managers to social work teams and a low number of agency workers.
- A quality assurance framework has been developed and is used effectively to evaluate the quality of services that children receive, as well as to inform service developments.
- The timeliness and quality of assessments has improved, with children seen as part of their assessments and their views recorded.
- Significant work has been undertaken to improve the electronic system which has allowed more effective recording of the work that is done with children.
- Child protection plans are in place and these are regularly reviewed and updated.
- Social workers and managers in child protection teams demonstrate passion and commitment to children and young people.
Ofsted also looked closely at the areas which were found to need improvements in their 2014 inspection, and found that there had been improvement in all of these areas.
How have these improvements been achieved?
Over the last two years, improving children’s services has been a priority for Knowsley Council, who have carried out a number of changes, including:
- Developing an improvement plan setting out the improvements which needed to be made, how and by what date.
- Establishing a Children’s Services Improvement Board with an independent chair, Malcolm Newsam. His role is to hold the council and partners to account, offering challenge and scrutiny.
- Ofsted carried out a number of monitoring visits which identified strengths and areas for further development.
- Ensuring strong leadership was provided by the Chief Executive, Mike Harden, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Gary See and Executive Director – Children’s, Paul Boyce. This has included a monthly programme of visits to all teams to identify issues and areas of good practice.
- Working more closely with all partner agencies involved in child protection as well as with children and families.
- Investing in training and equipment for staff, including equipping social workers with mobile technology enabling them to have access to information and be able to update records whilst out and about.
Knowsley Council will receive a further, full inspection from Ofsted in the future – but for now this monitoring report has highlighted positive progress which the borough can build upon.