Ofsted has published findings of a monitoring visit into children’s social care in Hull, focusing on progress for children in need and those subject to a child protection plan.
Inspectors visited Hull and were able to meet face to face with staff on 30 June and 1 July, and this follows a full inspection of Children, Young People and Family Services in January 2019.
Ofsted reported that a committed and increasingly stable senior leadership team has successfully led children’s services through the COVID-19 pandemic. That families in need of help and protection have continued to benefit from frequent support from staff who have been creative in how they have maintained contact with children, ensuring that they continue to be helped. The wide-ranging and comprehensive improvement plan is in progress.
Inspectors found political and corporate support for children’s services is high, stating leaders have responded quickly to the increased pressures created by the extra demand for services. Children in need of help and protection continue to receive a variable level of support, but more children now benefit from child-focused, responsive practice which is more ambitious for them.
Workforce stability has improved, and a new organisational culture of staff engagement and ‘shout outs’ celebrating good work is improving staff morale.
Since the last inspection, Ofsted has noted the considerable financial investment that the council has contributed to improve services for children. Services are led by a committed Director, with a stronger management team who are relentless in their desire to see children experience more consistent practice that is responsive and improves their lives.
While the pandemic has inevitably delayed some of the improvement work, the senior leadership team has remained focused on delivering its plans.
Social workers are ambitious for children, working persistently to secure a wide range of help and resources which are making a difference to children’s lives.
Managers have extensive plans for in-house development of social workers including apprenticeships, step-up programmes, and a social work academy. Inspectors saw strong practice in newly qualified social workers as well as agency staff, which demonstrates the high-quality recruitment and support for new staff. Social workers are working hard to support children in Hull and are appreciative of the support that managers and teams provide.
Councillor Shane McMurray, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services said: “Our social workers have really gone above and beyond during the pandemic, and their commitment to the young people in need has been observed by OFSTED. They are our service’s greatest asset and we will do all we can to support them in their often difficult work.
“An improvement plan is in place, driving continued progress, which has the support of political and corporate leaders at Hull City Council, alongside our partners. Every thread of the plan is approached with creativity with children at the centre. Our vision is clear that we wish to reach a good level of service by laying a solid foundation and then have our sights on the horizon; to outstanding. We know our city has many economic challenges which bring with that deprivation and often neglect.
“We are committed as an authority and a service to minimise the risks that our young people face in our community and raise aspirations, ambitions and outcomes for those in our care.”
Pauline Turner, Director of Children’s Services said: “I am pleased that Ofsted have observed the improvements that have been made since their last visit, and that we are well underway with the improvement journey of children’s services in Hull, with good support from a wide range of external partners and colleagues across the council.
“We have a clear plan of action and my focus now is to ensure that we continue to improve by increasing consistency in services we deliver to children. Staff and managers have worked really hard in their response to COVID-19, at the same time as improving services, which Ofsted have acknowledged.”