Improvements needed to plans to help borough's vulnerable children

James Winterbottom
James Winterbottom
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Council bosses have been told to make improvements to plans to support vulnerable children.

Ofsted carried out a focused visit to Wigan Council’s children’s services department to look at its arrangements for youngsters in need of help and protection.

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The two inspectors specifically looked at the quality, impact and effectiveness of planning for these children.

Their report said: “Issues and concerns about the quality, impact and effectiveness of assessments and plans, identified at the time of the last inspection in February 2017, have not been fully resolved.

“Needs and risks are identified appropriately, and inspectors did not find any evidence of children being left at immediate and unassessed risk of significant harm.

“But the quality of assessments is still too variable. Plans are still not easy to understand or use and, as a result, core groups and child in need review meetings are not as effective as they should be in monitoring and evaluating progress.

“Social workers are still not always getting the right level of critical challenge and case direction from supervision that they need.”

The inspectors found the new senior leadership team had “a good understanding” of the issues.

But service plans were “not specific or measurable”, performance management reports were “descriptive rather than analytical” and the quality assurance framework was “not fully developed or embedded”.

Ofsted noted senior leaders were in the “early stages” of introducing a new model and templates for plans.

They also found changes had been made to the senior leadership and management structure, which had led to increased capacity and improved management oversight of cases.

Senior leaders were also taking action to address staffing pressures in the targeted disability service, the report said.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services at the council, said they were aware of the findings and what the department needed to do to address them.

He said: “At its last Ofsted inspection in 2017, Wigan Council’s children’s services were one of only four in the North West to receive a ‘good’ rating with its adoption services individually assessed as ‘outstanding’.

“At the time Ofsted inspectors praised ‘a strong culture of continuous improvement’.

“Two years on and we continue along that journey of continuous improvement.

“The focused visit from Ofsted confirmed that our own self-assessment of strengths and areas we want to continue to improve is accurate and that we are creating the conditions for social work to flourish in our borough.

“This feedback will help ensure we continue to improve towards our goal: to give every child and young person the best start in

life.”