Agenda item

Ofsted focused visit to Children's Services - Update from Head of Children's Social Care


The Head of Children’s Social Care updated the Panel on Ofsted’s two-day focused visit to Children’s Services which took place remotely on 13 and 14 July and looked at Durham County Council’s arrangements for children in care.


The Head of Children’s Social Care highlighted the key findings set out in the Ofsted letter which was published on 23 August 2021 (for copy of letter see file of minutes).


The inspection identified a range of strengths and recognised that the service knows its children well, with Ofsted commenting that the self-assessment provided an accurate picture of children in care.   The letter identified areas of strong performance including that social workers were very positive about working for Durham and receive good support and supervision.  Positive feedback was received on the quality of social workers, with Ofsted finding that most children in care are making good progress; that  their needs are understood and high-quality care plans are in place.The wide range of specialist support available, including the Full Circle and Supporting Solutions was highlighted. The letter also commented that children and young people at risk of exploitation and missing from care are provided with a prompt response.  Ofsted acknowledged the processes in place to listen to the views of children and young people and to ensure their views positively impact service delivery. Inspectors were extremely complimentary about the Children in Care Council, having had the opportunity to meet representatives, to hear about their experiences and achievements.


The Head of Children’s Social Care explained that in the service’s submission to Ofsted, challenges were recognised, particularly in the area of placement sufficiency, which is a national issue.  Ofsted found there were no risks to children, however, some process issues were identified which included two areas for priority action and one area for improvement. The Head of Children’s Social Care informed the Panel that an action plan is being developed to address these issues and an update on the service’s response will be provided at the Corporate Parenting Panel meeting in October.


Councillor Gunn praised the Head of Children’s Social Care and her team for the good outcome and observed that regulations may cause difficulties for local authorities when placing challenging young people, which can hamper improvements in this area.  Adding her thanks to the Head of Children’s Social Care and the team, Councillor Walton, Vice-Chair, commented on the excellent strengths, adding that the feedback with regard to how the service strives to ensure the young people’s views are taken into account is particularly pleasing. The Vice-Chair assured the Head of Children’s Social Care that the Panel will support the service with regard to the areas for action and improvement.






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