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Trust praised for continued progress

Ofsted have continued to praise ‘progress’ being delivered in Doncaster to improve the quality of children’s services following their fourth monitoring visit.

In their report, published today (Thursday 31 August), they say that recommendations made from the single inspection in 2015 have been “thoroughly addressed”, with senior leaders having developed a culture across the workforce of “high support and high challenge” with clear expectations to improve outcomes for children.

At the heart of the Trust’s work is a willingness to listen and respond to the views and experiences of children, which the inspectors say, come through strongly, facilitated by effective engagement and direct work from social workers who demonstrate “thorough analysis” and a sound understanding of good practice.

During this monitoring visit, the inspectors concentrated on the Trust’s frontline services, which deal directly with children and families. And they found continuing improvements in the way in which enquiries were followed up with effective assessment, resulting in appropriate plans being made for children and families.

The ability of social workers to effectively assess enquiries meant they were able to pick up on issues that were not immediately obvious and which in turn informed their decision making on cases.

“Thorough analysis was seen in all assessments, effectively underpinned by the use of the nationally recognised practice framework,” state the inspectors adding that management oversight of assessments was evident, which ensured clear direction and timescales depending on the needs of the child.

“All assessments seen on this visit were thorough, with clear descriptions of children’s views and their lived experiences. These included thorough consideration and observations of children who were unable to communicate verbally because of either age or disability.”

“Prompt and thorough responses have ensured that no children were found to be in situations of unassessed or unmanaged risk and timely progression of work on cases seen has meant that risks for children are reduced effectively,” states the report.

Meanwhile, the inspectors state, multi-agency working means that every aspect of a case is effectively identified and explored. “The multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) benefits from the co-location of partners from police, health and education, the report states. For example, a health representative will provide ongoing monitoring of children identified as having complex health needs, to ensure they were understood within an assessment by social workers.

The report states the consistent quality of plans has improved, with children being fully aware and involved in the process.

Child protection and children in need reviews were timely, with reviews ensuring “appropriate progression” of the work alongside participation from other agencies and the families themselves.

Effective engagement work with both children and adults was also seen in families affected by domestic abuse, with culture and individual family dynamics sensitively addressed.

As identified in previous Ofsted visits, performance management and quality assurance continue to be a strength, state the inspectors, who found “an increasing and effective focus on quality and the embedding of the positive performance and quality assurance practice by first-line managers and frontline staff.”

Commenting on the report, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust Chief Executive Paul Moffat said: “I am incredibly proud of our staff who have demonstrated their commitment to improving the lives of Doncaster children, young people and families.

“This report, like others before it, shows that we all at the Trust recognise the importance of listening to those we are providing services for as well as linking up with partner agencies who can help us determine the best plan of action in each case.

“We realise there is still more to do and with our partners we are all determined to get on with it.” 

“She provided a balanced, succinct and empathetic approach that remained focussed on the children.”

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