Ofsted continue to praise ‘significant progress’ for children’s services in Doncaster
The ‘significant progress’ made to improve services for children and young people in need of help and protection in Doncaster has continued to be praised by Ofsted.
In its report, published today (Wednesday 23 November) the inspection agency outlined its findings following a second detailed monitoring visit to the Trust, which delivers social care services including child protection, fostering, adoption, children’s homes and services to children with disabilities on behalf of Doncaster Council.
Inspectors praised the continued pace of improvement and noted that, as in the previous visit, no children were seen to be in situations of unassessed, unmanaged or unacceptable risk.
Just two years after opening its doors, from what is described as a ‘low baseline’ the Trust is continuing its journey of sustained improvements with the report stating the Trust “knows itself well, demonstrating an understanding of current practice, with clear plans in place to focus and sustain improvements.”
It goes on to add: “There is good understanding of what underlies the data and where action is required to improve performance and quality.”
Performance and quality assurance arrangements were highlighted as a particular strength, as was the determination of the trust to listen to children and young people, with the report stating: “The voice of the child is clear in the vast majority of cases seen.”
This was, the inspectors say, coupled with a positive attitude among staff who were consistently well supported and trained and who “described the feeling that Doncaster is now a much safer place for children.”
Development of the workforce is highlighted in the report as contributing to improvements in quality.
“The intensive practice improvement programme and successful recruitment and retention work are key elements, underpinning improvements made in the quality and consistency of practice seen on this visit,” says the report.
While some work still needs to be done to further embed the reviewing practice of children in need, the inspectors state that: “Comprehensive performance data for children in need, which includes child protection, demonstrates clear improvements in many of the key performance areas.”
It goes on to add: “Core groups are effective in supporting ongoing case progression and evaluation. Core group meetings are held regularly and progress is updated with specific reference to, and update of, child protection action plans. There is good multi-agency attendance at the vast majority of cases. Current levels of risk are evaluated and responded to on an ongoing basis.”
Similarly, while the Trust “has set a high standard for the review and update of all assessments every six months,” work was ongoing to cement this, with the report stating: “Reviewing processes for child protection work are improving and progress is now being made on work that has previously been subject to drift and delay.
“Child protection conferences utilise a nationally recognised practice framework and this supports the effective engagement of families and encourages the voice of children.”
Regarding PLO (Public Law Outline) meetings, which are designed to stop family issues getting to the point where court proceedings are required, the report states that some improvements have been made to the use of the PLO process which now need to concentrate on some elements of drift and delay.
Overall, the report states that: “The voice of the child is clear in the vast majority of cases seen. Visiting is timely and well recorded.
“Children are seen alone and a variety of methods and tools is utilised to facilitate communication.”
It says that evidence is clear of work to engage parents and families, with effective use made of family group conferences to ensure that children are supported within their family wherever possible.
Chief Executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Paul Moffat said: “We are delighted that Ofsted’s report today highlights the “significant progress” we are making in Doncaster to improve services provided for children, young people and families in the borough.
“This inspection of the Trust’s services was focused on child protection, and so this report is particularly important in giving the public improved confidence in services to safeguard children. It gives us reassurance that we are on track to get to our goal of achieving a ‘good’ rating by next autumn.
“We are very pleased at the progress made by our dedicated and committed staff who have worked so hard to bring about these changes, but we know that there is still much to do. We are not complacent and we have a clear understanding of how we will deliver our ambition to transform services for children, young people and families in Doncaster.”