Ofsted finds improvement in Lambeth Children's services
The Ofsted report published today (May 9) says the service 'requires improvement to be good'; this is an improvement from its conclusion in 2015, when the service was judged to be 'inadequate'. The improvement follows heavy investment in the service, resulting in a more stable workforce, lower caseloads and improving social work practice. A team of inspectors from Ofsted have made eight monitoring visits to Lambeth since 2015, to track progress on the improvement strategy put in place by the Council to address the failings identified by Ofsted. The process culminated in a four-week re-inspection between January and February this year.
The final 're-inspection report' found that:
"Since the most recent appointments of senior leaders in 2016, the pace of improvement has accelerated. Stronger, more stable leadership and committed corporate parenting mean that most vulnerable children are supported well. Children's views influence policy and service development."
Importantly, Ofsted found that "improved management oversight of decisions ensures that risks to children are identified quickly and assessed effectively" and that "children's needs are assessed in the context of the whole family and lead to creative packages of support".
It said: "Managers and social workers know that there is more to do, especially for those children who have a plan for adoption, so that children who cannot live with their families receive good services at the time they need them."
Dr Nandini Mukhopadhyay, clinical lead for children for NHS Lambeth CCG said: "We are pleased that Ofsted has recognised the clear evidence of the improvements made in services for Lambeth children since the last inspection and we are particularly pleased that the report highlighted partnership working as an ongoing strength in Lambeth. Over the past two years we have continued to work hard with the Council so that together we can improve our support to Lambeth children and it's great to see this recognised."
The report made 12 recommendations for further progress, including:
- Recruit enough adopters to meets the need of children in Lambeth
- Consider how to better engage young people who are gang affiliated, leaving custody, and those who have more entrenched criminal behaviours, so that they achieve better outcomes.
- Improve the frequency, quality and consistency of management oversight and supervision in all teams. Ensure that supervision is regular, reflective and challenging, and that managers record the rationale for their case decisions.
- Improve the quality of assessments so that the lived experiences of children are fully understood and inform plans.
- Develop an approach for assessing and responding to children detained in custody.
- Improve oversight of children in care with substance misuse difficulties and ensure that services and interventions are sufficient for them to receive the right help at the right time.
- Offer more practical and timely help to ensure that young people leaving care gain the skills and attitudes they need to better engage in education, employment or training.
The full report is available on the Lambeth Council website and Ofsted website.