Ofsted note improvements at Solihull children's services - The Solihull Observer

Ofsted note improvements at Solihull children's services

Solihull Editorial 27th Feb, 2024   0

IMPROVEMENTS to children’s services at Solihull Council have been noted by the education watchdog.

Ofsted inspectors made the comments following its monitoring visit to the authority during January – the third such one since Solihull was judged inadequate in November 2022.

Inspectors focused on the areas that were identified as ‘of concern’ during the previous visit.

This included children subject to a letter before proceedings and the quality and impact of pre-proceedings interventions, those on the edge of care including 16- and 17-year-old children who present as homeless and the quality of decisions about children entering care.

In a letter to Beate Wagner, the director of Children’s Services at Solihull Council Rebecca Quested, His Majesty’s Inspector said: “Since the last inspection, social work practice has improved.

“Social workers are committed to building relationships with families, including those who are reluctant to engage in child protection planning.

“Most social workers make child-centred decisions to progress plans so that they can understand children’s experiences.

“Social workers spend time getting to know their children well. They complete direct work to ensure that children understand why social workers are involved in their lives.”

She also noted that when 16- and 17-year-old children present as homeless they are supported to return to their family, if it is safe, or assessments are undertaken to secure suitable accommodation.

Ms Quested also noted: “There remain limitations in the effectiveness of audit activity on social work practice due to the small numbers completed.

“Audits are completed with social workers and valuable feedback is sought from parents and carers.

“Auditors do not include children’s views, which is a missed opportunity.

“The local authority is taking steps to ensure that learning from quality assurance activity will inform social work practice more widely across the service.”

The Council’s services came under closer scrutiny after a Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) was launched by the former Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi following the death of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes in 2020.

In his weekly message Councillor Ian Courts, leader of Solihull Council said: “I don’t want to give, in any way, the impression that the hard work to improve Children’s Services in recent months is now complete, but the summary nonetheless shows that we are on the right track, and that is the direction of travel that we are very determined to maintain.

“I know colleagues across the Council have been working really hard to get the service where we want it to be.

“While this report shows there is plenty more to do, it also shows how much work has gone into the improvements noted by the inspectors.”


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