Inspection of Children’s Social Care Services

Ofsted focused visit October 2020

Positive signs of improvement: Children’s services Ofsted focused visit

Newham’s Children’s Services are showing positive signs of improvement and have delivered a well-coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Ofsted.

The children’s services watchdog paid a three-day “focused visit” to Newham at the end of October. Inspectors explored work across children’s social care services, including key decision making in help and protection, children in care and services for care leaves. They also took a close look at how the council has worked with schools and health services to meet the needs of vulnerable children during the pandemic.

Against the huge challenges posed by the pandemic, inspectors found improvements since their previous monitoring visit in March, including: 

  • Improved quality and timeliness of assessments 
  • Strong partnership working and response to Covid-19
  • Children in care and care leavers feeling positive about their relationships with social workers and the services they received 
  • Social workers are highly committed and really know their children 
  • Improvements in the MASH (multi-agency service hub) and assessment service 
  • Progress with permanency planning 
  • Staff feel supported by the council
  • The leadership team has an understanding of its strengths and a determination to address weaknesses  

The inspectors noted there are plans in place for further improvements, and highlighted where they found more progress is needed, including:

  • Planning and intervention to protect children at risk of exploitation 
  • The quality and robustness of child protection and child in need planning 
  • Escalation arrangements in cases where children’s circumstances have not improved despite intervention 
  • Quality of analysis in social work assessments where domestic abuse is a feature 
  • Return home interviews when children go missing 
  • Ensuring greater consistency in the quality of supervision records

Cllr Sarah Ruiz, Cabinet Member for Education and Children Social Care, said: “We are proud that Ofsted found we stepped up to protect some of Newham’s most vulnerable children and young people in the face of the global Covid-19 pandemic.

“The inspectors’ findings are testament to the very hard work of our dedicated team of social workers, who work day in and day out to try to protect and support children across the borough.

“However, we are by no means complacent and we fully accept the areas for further improvement highlighted by Ofsted. We know that the journey to outstanding children’s services is a long one, and we remain committed to a culture of ongoing professional challenge and learning – and determined to deliver the changes and improvement necessary to ensure all children in Newham have access to the very best children’s services.”

Newham’s Children’s and Young People’s Services have been on a significant improvement journey following an inspection in February 2019 which resulted in an “inadequate” rating for services. There have been monitoring visits in October 2019 and March 2020 as inspectors chart the local authority’s response to that rating.

The Newham Together practice framework shows a systemic approach to children’s social work practice, centred on the “six Cs” of co-production; curiosity; confidence; clarity; community, and compassion.

The next few months will see a focus on further improvements in areas such as leaving care, child protection, supervision and quality assurance.

You can read the full Ofsted focused visit report on the Ofsted website here