Kids jumping with delight.

Ofsted 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 been praised by Ofsted.

The inspection agency published its report today (September 2) following a detailed monitoring visit in August of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, which delivers social care services including child protection, fostering, adoption, children homes and services to children with disabilities on behalf of Doncaster Council.

The letter highlights “effective progress made to improve the quality of services provided” and notes that there were no cases seen where children were judged to be at immediate risk of harm. It describes “prompt and appropriate action taken to address safeguarding concerns”.

Inspectors praised the “comprehensive and detailed action plan” which is leading to “coordinated improvements across the service”.

Inspectors found that Trust senior managers had a “solid understanding of performance and areas of improvements” through significant improvements in performance management and quality assurance arrangements. This is resulting in positive action to address areas that had historically been problematic. 

The letter confirms that staff morale in Doncaster is high with social workers feeling well supported, and the reduction in the use of agency social workers is leading to a more stable workforce. Together with the investment of a highly effective practice improvement programme for staff the impact is now beginning to be demonstrated in practice resulting in better services for children and their families.

The inspectors also commented that there has been a notable improvement in the quality of work undertaken by social workers, including better assessments and ensuring that children are seen alone and their views are heard. The next steps are to ensure that these levels of quality are consistently achieved.

Inspectors also noted that work to enhance the Early Help Hub is starting to have an impact and is helping to ensure that appropriate decisions are made for families and children who need some support, but do not meet the threshold for social work services. 

Chief Executive of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Paul Moffat said: “We are delighted that the findings of today’s Ofsted report highlights the "significant progress" we are making in Doncaster to improve the quality of services provided for children, young people and families in the borough. 

“We are on track with our improvement plans and we are pleased that inspectors have noted the impressive hard work and determination of our staff to succeed.

“A significant amount of work has taken place in the Trust, the council and with partners since the Trust was established and this is now clearly yielding the right results for families in Doncaster. We know there is still a lot to do and inspectors confirmed that we have a good understanding of what those challenges are and more importantly how to address them. We are reassured that Ofsted share our own view that we are heading in the right direction on our journey to transform services for children, young people and families.

“Whilst we are pleased with the significant progress recognised by HMI Ofsted, we are not complacent and we will continue to rigorously pursue our objective of delivering high quality services for all children in receipt of our services.”

Independent Chair of Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB), John Harris said: “There is real evidence of improvement in many aspects of safeguarding. The board are particularly pleased that inspectors have recognised the tenacious and effective support that children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation in Doncaster receive. 

“The DSCB will continue to provide the right level of scrutiny and challenge to the work of the council, trust and partner agencies to ensure that this pace of driving change in Doncaster continues.” 

Cllr Nuala Fennelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: “We welcome the findings of the monitoring visit which show the great strides made in improving services for our vulnerable young people. It is pleasing that the pace of improvement has been recognised by Ofsted and while we know there is still more we need to do, the findings show that the plans are in place to complete the transformation. Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, the council and our partners should be proud of the progress made to date.”

A full copy of the report is due to be published on the Ofsted website on 2 September.

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