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A yearly unannounced inspection of children’s social services by regulator Ofsted has found Slough’s young people are protected well by the council’s services.
The inspection, which took place last month, sampled the quality and effectiveness of contact, referral and assessment arrangements and the impact on safeguarding children in the borough.
Inspectors spent two days inspecting case records, supervision files and information about the service; and talking to, and observing social work staff and managers. They also interviewed staff at all levels and talked to representatives from health, schools and Thames Valley Police.
In their report, released today, they say the council’s ‘service delivery to children is efficient and effective’ and ‘recent changes to front line practice including screening of initial contacts… lead to demonstrable improvements in service delivery’.
It also states that ‘strong partnership arrangements, the diversity of the workforce, the availability of a wide range of translation services and effective support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children ensure that service design and delivery is appropriate and responsive to the cultural, ethnic and religious needs of the community’.
Children’s social services staff are also praised as ‘highly motivated’ with ‘knowledgeable, experienced and accessible managers’ who ‘ensure effective intervention to safeguard children and young people’.
Clair Pyper, director of education and children’s services, said: “I am very pleased Ofsted has recognised the high quality staff we have and how we all work together to provide the best child protection service we can.
“We have worked hard to improve our services at a time of very high demand and it is excellent that the approach we are taking has been justified by this report.”
Councillor Natasa Pantelic, commissioner for education and children, said: “The council’s responsibility to ensure children’s safety is of paramount importance, and I am pleased to see that Ofsted have endorsed this aspect of our work.
“All council’s have experienced an increase in referrals to their social work departments following the publicity around recent high profile cases, but despite increasing numbers of cases, social workers in Slough have maintained a high quality service, which I commend them for.
“The council takes on board the comments of Ofsted regarding caseloads, which is why we will be making sure that front line services for the most vulnerable are supported, and why we will be appointing social work staff to support families with young children.”
The report also identified two areas for development: reducing social work caseloads, and greater consistency in keeping case records up to date.
Clair Pyper said: “We accept the recommendations for development and already have plans in place to ensure there is sufficient capacity to keep caseloads at a manageable level across the teams.”