Services for children and families are ‘consistently improving’ as Croydon’s drive to improve children’s social care continues to ‘gain further momentum’, Ofsted has found.
Ofsted has today (Wednesday 18 December) published the findings from their seventh monitoring visit since the borough received its Ofsted judgement in 2017. The visit, which took place on 16 and 17 October, was the final monitoring visit ahead of a full inspection in 2020.
Inspectors noted that social care in Croydon has improved further, and the leadership provided by the executive director and the director of early help and children’s social care ‘continues to drive progress at a sustained and rapid pace.’ This is ‘reaping considerable reward’, with services for children ‘consistently improving’.
During their visit, inspectors focused on services for children who receive support through a child protection plan or a child in need plan, and services for children who have a plan for adoption. They found ‘improvements evident in almost all areas of practice’, and reported that children ‘benefit from thoughtful and persistent child-centred work that is making a difference to their lives’ while ‘children’s views and voices increasingly inform the work undertaken.’
Ofsted also reported significant improvements in morale, with staff ‘very happy working for Croydon’ and ‘well-supported’, with average caseloads below the maximum. Inspectors commented on the strength of management supervision and oversight and ‘robust decision-making’. They found that staff valued the accessibility and availability of senior leaders and managers, and the culture of openness and positivity, as well as the learning and development opportunities. Inspectors also praised Croydon’s new systemic-practice model for social workers as having a positive impact for children.
Ofsted commented that in some cases, children on child protection plans were in need of ‘skilled and purposeful attention’ due to historical practice, and appropriate action was being taken to address this. Other areas for improvement included the transfer of cases from the assessment team to the social work with families service, and the quality of written records, which did not always reflect the good practice that was taking place.
Ofsted noted the challenges Croydon faces due to the size and scale of its service; however, they felt that these challenges were understood by the council. They praised Croydon’s ‘persistent, widespread and creative’ response to the recruitment challenge which is facing children’s social care services across the country, and noted the borough’s progress, including recruiting a stable, permanent management team.
The report can be read in full here.
“This is an encouraging final monitoring report. Most importantly, we are delivering a better service for children and families, and we are keeping up the pace of change.
“We have come a long way since our inspection in 2017, and the commitment and dedication of our staff, from senior executives to case-holding social workers, along with our investment in the service, is starting to pay off. We are moving in the right direction to be out of government intervention at our final inspection.
“However, our improvement journey doesn’t end here, nor will it end when we receive our final inspection. We still have a long way to go to get to where we want to be. As Ofsted noted, Croydon faces some unique challenges but, as they also recognised, we are determined to meet these challenges. We will not rest until all our children and families are receiving the best, right across the board.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning