12:45PM, Thursday 31 May 2018
Praise for improving the lives of children in care has been given to the Slough Children’s Services Trust (SCST) following Ofsted’s latest visit.
Inspectors from the Government watchdog who visited the trust for two days at the beginning of May published their report on Friday, May 25.
The trust took over Slough’s children’s services in 2015 after Slough Borough Council received an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating in July 2014.
The trust was itself labelled inadequate in February 2016.
It has since been praised for improvements following six monitoring visits, which are smaller scale inspections without the same ratings system.
After the latest monitoring visit, which focused on children in care, Ofsted found the majority of children in care ‘live in stable homes which meet their needs well’.
The report says: “Children live in safe and stable placements and have contact with their families, when this is in their best interests.
“Children who live outside Slough are well supported and there are processes in place to ensure that they receive appropriate services in respect of their health and education.”
The watchdog praised the ‘constructive’ relationships between social workers, team managers and independent reviewing officers, who monitor the effectiveness of children’s care plans.
It said decisions for children to be classed as ‘looked after’ were mostly time appropriate but that, for a small number of children, more should have been done to address ‘escalating risks’.
The report added: “The quality of management oversight and decision-making remains an area requiring improvement.”
Children’s individual and diverse needs were well documented, and review meetings were child-centred and written directly to the child, in plain and easily understood language, according to Ofsted.
The report says care plans are improving but are not all ‘consistently good’, and weaker plans are not always being specific, measurable or time-bound.
The inspectors said the number of children with two or more social workers between February 2017 and 2018 had reduced from 38 per cent to 24 per cent.
Welcoming the report, the trust’s interim chief executive Andrew Bunyan said: “We’re delighted with the findings, which show just how far we have come and what we’ve done to improve the lives and outcomes for children in our care.
“We know there are areas which still need addressing, in terms of consistency, management oversight and the quality of detail included in children’s care plans, but we’re definitely getting there.
“This is the first monitoring visit where all the previous hard work we’ve put in is starting to pay off and is clearly evident in our practice,” he added.
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