Latest Ofsted report
Children's services: latest visit from Ofsted
Ofsted completed a focused visit to Medway Council’s Children Services in May 2021 to review progress being made by the council, with a specific focus on how well children have been helped and protected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The focused visit highlighted a number of areas where progress has been made, particularly during the additional challenges imposed on the service by the pandemic.
The council has made several improvements which were recognised by Ofsted. These include the following:
- progress made by the increasingly stable senior leadership team in developing the necessary foundations to develop and improve the consistency and quality of practice and understand the quality of social work practice through the service
- the swift response of senior leaders to the challenges presented by the pandemic, developing new ways of working while continuing to deliver essential services. The report states that individual risk assessments have ensured that the most vulnerable children have been seen regularly and face-to-face as needed and social workers have ensured that they sought their views and heard their voice throughout the pandemic
- relationships with partner agencies and community services have been strengthened. Effective relationships with education, schools and health partners have promoted effective co-ordination of services to children and their families throughout this period
- improvements within the multi-agency safeguarding hub. The letter welcomed a new model of working alongside a revised threshold document, launched in April 2021, which has impacted positively on the quality and timeliness of referrals received from partner agencies and application of social work thresholds and decision-making
- increased staffing levels within the care leaver service, are enabling social workers and personal advisers to establish and keep in touch with young people more regularly
- child protection enquiries completed in a timely way and clear evidence is provided of appropriate decision making together with thorough assessment of need and risk and decision-making
- during the pandemic, senior leaders have ensured that children in care have been able to access services to meet their emotional health needs
- effective identification and tracking of families who are home-educating their children
- the close working relationship with schools during the pandemic which led to better communication and joined-up work to assure and maintain children’s attendance at school, including those children who are vulnerable.
Ofsted inspectors found no child at risk of harm, and there were no priority areas identified for immediate action.
The report however highlighted 3 key areas where improvement is still needed. This includes:
- analysing the need and planning for children who are at risk of harm and experiencing long-term neglect
- management oversight and case planning for children who are placed at a distance from Medway
- children who go missing and are at risk of exploitation and ensuring the availability of and access to emotional health and wellbeing services for older children in care and care leavers.