Action being taken to address weaknesses in Central Beds Council's children's services as Ofsted publishes latest findings

But it was a positive overall picture from the focused Ofsted inspection
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Action is being taken to address areas of weakness identified in a focused Ofsted inspection of Central Bedfordshire Council’s children’s services.

But overall the local authority emerges positively from the findings, as part of a framework to examine the effectiveness of these services.

Such visits “don’t include a graded judgement”, according to a CBC statement. The emphasis during last month’s visit was on children in need, including those subject to a protection plan, it said.

“The focused visit builds on the previous ‘good’ Ofsted ratings from 2017 and 2022 for the service.”

In its report – which you can read online here – an Ofsted inspector said: “The quality of case audits is variable. Some are evaluative and able to identify strong or weak practice, while others aren’t.

“Helped by a recent peer review, leaders have recognised the inconsistency in audit practice and other areas where data quality and performance information can be improved. Action is being taken to address these weaknesses.

“Social workers enjoy working for Central Bedfordshire. They feel well supported by visible and caring managers, and senior leaders.

“They’re provided with a range of relevant training and development opportunities, which help them become more effective in their roles.

“Manageable caseloads enable social workers to undertake reflective and effective quality work with children and their parents.

“Leaders and managers at Central Bedfordshire are forward-thinking and ambitious, and know their service well. They’ve a coherent approach and a clear line of sight of their improvement journey.

“Management oversight and supervision are effective in supporting staff, giving direction to practice and in ensuring cases don’t drift.

“Children’s stories come to life in sensitively written case records and reports,” added the inspectors. “But the quality and consistency of use and recording of direct work are variable.

“When direct work is used and recorded, in some cases it’s creative and effective. However, not all children are benefiting from receiving such work.

“Some children are supported to access advocacy services, which enables them to convey their views, wishes and feelings. This use of advocacy services is too variable, and advocacy isn’t being provided to some children who could benefit from this support.”

The council has received welcome feedback for the social care services it provides to children and families, explained CBC in its statement.

“In its report published today (March 26), Ofsted has credited the local authority for further strengthening the support and management oversight for children in need of help and protection, since the last inspection in 2022.

“Inspectors highlighted that children in Central Bedfordshire benefit from dedicated, passionate and skilled social workers who know them well and who work with purpose.

“Leaders and managers were praised for being ‘forward-thinking and ambitious’, with a clear plan to further improve services for children and families.”

Independent Biggleswade West councillor and CBC’s executive member for families, education and children Hayley Whitaker said: “The Ofsted report really validates the good work of our children’s services day in, day out.

“Congratulations to everyone involved and thank you for what’s challenging, but vital work supporting some of the most vulnerable families in Central Bedfordshire.”