Agenda item

OFSTED - 'Hub Focused Visit'

To consider a report from the Interim Executive Director – People (copy enclosed).



Members had before them a report from the Interim Executive Director – People which summarised the findings of Ofsted’s two day focused visit of Cumbria’s children’s services. The Senior Manager – Children and Young People (CYP) Social Care  explained to members that Ofsted Inspectors looked at arrangements for the single point of contact for families and professionals seeking advice and support. They also considered the effectiveness of strategy discussions and child protection enquiries, the quality of assessments and early help plans, thresholds for the transfer of work to early help services and the response to 16-17-year-olds who present as homeless.


The last full Ofsted inspection took place in 2017 when the overall judgement was raised from inadequate to requires improvement (with good for leadership & management and adoption). Members acknowledged that the new framework for inspection means that two ‘short focused visits’ take place between full inspections and that these visits would not result in an overall ‘grading’.


Members heard the Inspectors major findings which were as follows: - 


  • No priority areas for action were raised as a result of this visit.
  • Many areas of strength were highlighted which demonstrated continuing improvement.
  • Some areas requiring continued focus were identified including the response to CYP who present as homeless and the addressing of capacity issues in certain areas.


The Senior Manager continued by highlighting the strengths in the areas of Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, the Safeguarding practice, the model of practice, management oversight as well as performance, management and quality assurance.


Members sought assurance that the service will continue to build upon these strengths, they then asked for further detail regarding the areas for improvement. These areas were as follows:-


  • Capacity and stability of workforce leading, in some cases, to inconsistent practice
  • Children’s identity need in assessment in need of more exploration
  • Improvement needed in the assessment of the needs of young people who present as homeless
  • Ensuring audit actions are completed in a timely way.


Members asked for clarification regarding the meaning of a ‘child’s identity need’, especially in regard to questions of gender and ethnicity. It was explained that the implication of this was that the service needed to explore the impact of a CYP’s economic, social and emotional need further at the point of assessment. It was AGREED that the Corporate Parenting Board should look into how identity was being taken into account as part of needs assessment.


A discussion then took place about staffing and the incentives that been put in place so as to attract and retain staff. The Senior Manager stressed that financial incentives were not the most important factor for Social Workers. She explained that this avenue would continue to be explored in conjunction with promotion of travel incentives and improved levels of support to staff.


Members raised concerns about whether absence and sickness was a large part of the issue regarding work force stability. It was AGREED that a full breakdown of staff absence be circulated to the Board.


An in depth discussion about Externally Provided Workers (EPWs) took place and it was acknowledged that the service had taken steps towards investment in its permanent workforce through the social workers academy.


After concerns were raised regarding CYP presenting as homeless it was AGREED that a detailed report be brought to a future meeting.


It was RESOLVED that,                 


1)    Members note the report


2)    Members to receive information on staff absence, turnover and vacancies


3)    Corporate Parenting Board to look into how identity is being taken into account, and to review housing provision


4)    The Board to review the new contracts for homelessness and housing provision for 16-25 year olds once they have been let.


Supporting documents: