The latest Ofsted inspection into Barnsley Council’s Children’s Social Care Services has concluded that services for children in Barnsley are Good, following steady improvement and thanks to effective and principled leadership and a skilled and motivated workforce who deliver good quality services to children and families across the borough.
The report follows a recent full inspection in October in which leadership, the experiences and progress of children who need help and protection and the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers were all judged to be Good, as well as the overall effectiveness of services which was judged by Ofsted as Good. The report highlights many strengths including the fact that children are at the heart of strategic thinking, decision making, and operational practice, and the resolute focus on improving outcomes for children is shared across the partnership and underpinned by political commitment, financial investment and a self-evaluation that shows that leaders know their services well.
Social work practice in Barnsley is flourishing inspectors say, adding that: “social workers are confident practitioners, who are professionally curious and tenacious in their work with families, and who know their children well."
Practice is child-focused and the voice of the child is embedded throughout the service.
Good examples of direct work to establish children’s wishes and feelings were seen during the inspection.
Workforce stability is excellent, which means children benefit from consistent relationships with social workers. Leaders and managers, who offer effective and principled leadership, have also created a culture in which social workers are valued, feel valued and are proud to work in Barnsley.
With regards to early help and protection, “children and families benefit from a good early help offer”, inspectors say, adding that the integrated front door (the single point of contact for all safeguarding and wellbeing concerns regarding children and young people in Barnsley) ’ is effective in managing risk and protecting children Social Work assessments are of good quality, describing the child’s world well, and children’s plans are set out with reasons and the need for the plan. Ofsted found strong multi-agency partnerships in Barnsley Services for children in care and care leavers are good, and children’s outcomes improve because of the support they receive from workers.
Children in Barnsley benefit from a committed and ‘pushy’ corporate parent with a determination to raise the aspiration of all children, families, and the communities in which they live. In their comments regarding the experiences and progress of children in care and care leavers, inspectors say that “children in care receive a good service and social workers know their children well, understanding the key factors that contribute to children’s stability in placement and the child’s unique experiences and context.”
Foster carer recruitment training and approval are effective and children are helped to develop secure attachments in stable placements. Children’s care plans identify and meet their needs.
Children in care and care leavers receive assistance and support from a range of services to strengthen their journey into independence, with an active and vocal Children In Care Council (Care4Us) which has worked hard to influence service development through its annual ‘takeover of the service event’.
The impact of leaders on social work practice with children and families was recognised by inspectors who noted that: “effective and principled leadership by the executive director, chief executive, and leader of the council models and sets out high aspirations for children in Barnsley. Collectively, they have driven the continuous improvement journey that shows that practice in Barnsley is now good and that the majority of children receive a good service that is making a difference to their lives.”
The service also benefits from a stable and highly committed leadership team, led by the executive director, which has been instrumental in delivering against the continuous service improvement plan.
Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: “This Good rating from Ofsted is most deserved by a dedicated workforce who have worked so well together to improve the services we provide for some of our most vulnerable children. Barnsley council is an effective and proud corporate parent.
“I would like to thank social workers and leaders and managers at every level, whose commitment to children and young people shines through every day. Their dedication and commitment is remarkable and we are really proud of them.”
Rachel Dickinson, Executive Director for People, also added: “I am immensely proud of everybody who has played a part in making our service shine and progress so we can achieve this level. Our teams all work very hard and really strive to make improvements in peoples lives”.
The inspection found that no children were found to be in situations of unassessed or unmanaged risk.
Ofsted has made four recommendations for improvement:
Risk assessment and the understanding of the wider risks to which young people are exposed in the community, including the timeliness and quality of return home interviews when children are reported missing from home and care.
Regular review of the use of private fostering arrangements to ensure that they remain appropriate to meet children’s needs.
The numbers of care leavers aged 19–21 in education, employment and training.
The rigour of audit and dip sampling activity and how data informs an understanding of the quality of practice and timeliness performance for initial child protection case conferences.
The report can be read in full here https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/
This news is linked to Town Spirit. We want to work better together. If everyone in Barnsley does just one thing, together we can make our borough a more welcoming place where people want to live, work and visit.
We’re committed to #AcheiveIt by making sure families have access to the support they need at the earliest possible stage. #OwnIt by taking up the help on offer and working with us and our partners to access a wide range of service on offer.