Social services told of gaps in its work

Fionuala Foley

Fionuala Foley

First published in News

AN OFSTED report into social services for children at Swindon Council has concluded that improvements are needed.

An inspection earlier this year, which found that there was nothing which required immediate action and no child was in immediate danger, raised concerns in a number of areas.

Council leaders have said while they accept the report, all the issues raised were already being addressed before the inspection.

Ofsted concluded more needed to be done to ensure social services was able to recognise the signs of sexual exploitation and the management of cases for children when they are first referred was also criticised.

The council was also told it needed a more consistent response to dealing with cases of domestic abuse when the police first report it to them.

However, there were also many positives with the adoption service being rated good, and staff were also praised for helping young people with a problem before it became more serious.

The report also highlighted there was strong leadership structure in place.

Coun Fionuala Foley (Con, Chiseldon and Lawn), the cabinet member for children’s services, said she felt there were a lot of positives from the report.

She said: “I am pleased with the outcome. Nothing was red-flagged and no child is in immediate danger.

“If you look at other reports for other authorities which have concluded improvement required, you will see that we are at the top end. Prior to the Ofsted inspection we have identified a lot of the issues and have taken action but they need to see outcomes so can’t yet reward them.

“I am delighted they recognised all the good work being done in the adoption service and the level of leadership we have.”

An inspection was carried out over a four-week period in March and April under a new, tougher system which Ofsted say is designed to raise standards.

Their report also recognised the increase in workload for social workers over the last 12 months, with a rise in the number of children being referred by 25 per cent.

“Whenever there is a high profile case of child abuse we see an increase in the number of people contacting us concerned about a child,” said Coun Foley.

“This is good and something we want people to do. Prior to Ofsted’s inspection we knew this was coming and there is money set aside to recruit. Unfortunately, it is a hard profession to recruit people into.”

Swindon was last inspected by Ofsted in 2010, under the previous system, and rated as ‘good’.

The new inspection regime began in November 2013, in response to the Munro Review of Child Protection which was ordered following a number of high-profile national child abuse cases.

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