Published: Wednesday, 26th October 2022

Medway’s ‘determined approach’ to make improvements to its Children’s Services has been recognised in the latest Ofsted monitoring visit.

The service had been judged inadequate by Ofsted in August 2019. However, four monitoring visits by Ofsted inspectors have since found progress has been made in the support and care provided for children and families.

The most recent letter from Ofsted, following the fifth monitoring visit held on 21 and 22 September 2022, outlines recommendations to continue to improve the service for disabled children, as well as recognising that progress has been made to support disabled children and their families.

Ofsted acknowledged that foundations for improvement are in place and leaders are fully aware of the work still needed to ensure consistent and quality social care support is provided to all disabled children who need it in Medway.

The monitoring visit found that although timely assessments are being carried out for children who need support, a lack of community resources (such as short breaks or personal adviser support) means that too many children wait too long for services. Ofsted recognised that senior leaders are in the process of addressing this shortfall.

We recognise that work is still required to improve the quality and impact of assessments, including assessments for children who are already receiving a community package of support to ensure they continue to receive the right level of support.

Medway’s social workers praised for their commitment to improving the lives of disabled children and young people

Ofsted recognised that social workers in the 0–25 service are committed to improving disabled children’s lives. Ofsted also found that some children, particularly those who have had the same social worker for a long time, have developed strong and positive relationships with their social workers.

However, some children have had a change in social worker and we recognise that this can affect a child and family’s ability to form trusting relationships.

Medway has a weekly support group for young people with additional needs, run by the Youth Service and Ofsted commended the resource as ‘highly valued’ by young people, with one young person summing up the views of others by saying that ‘It is a happy and safe place. We have fun. We make friends, and there is always someone here who we can share any worries with.’

Social workers are positive about working in Medway

Ofsted found that senior leaders maintain a ‘determined approach to improvement’ and recognise what they need to do to address shortfalls in the service. Although staffing capacity has increased, and despite relentless efforts to recruit to additional posts, recruiting staff with the broad range of skills and experiences to work with both disabled children and young adults continues to be a challenge in Medway. However, despite this, Ofsted found that social workers are positive about working in Medway.

The inspectors found that our audit framework is well-established and continues to enable senior leaders to have a clear and accurate understanding of the quality of practice across children’s social care, including services for disabled children, and that ‘work continues to embed learning and development in response to audit findings.’

We continue to make improvements

Dr Lee-Anne Farach, Medway Council’s Director of People, said: “We continue to make improvements and fully take on board Ofsted’s latest findings and recommendations to help us continue to make sustainable positive changes for our children and families. I would like to thank all Medway’s social care teams, and our partners, for their continued efforts to support our children and young people. I am pleased Ofsted again saw evidence of the hard work undertaken by our dedicated teams.”

Medway is full of bright and talented children

Cllr Josie Iles, Medway’s Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “We have come a long way since the initial inspection in 2019 and we continue to push on with our planned improvement journey. We recognise the support Medway’s children and young people deserve and we will continue to make necessary changes to improve the service they need to help provide them with the best opportunities and better outcomes. Medway is full of bright and talented children and young people, from all backgrounds, and we will continue to work hard to support the individual needs of children in care as best we can to encourage their interests and skills.”

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