Ofsted says Council is continuing to make improvements to services for children in care

Buckinghamshire County Council is continuing to make improvements to services for children in care, according to Ofsted in its fourth monitoring visit letter published today (Wednesday 18 December).

The letter outlines the results of a visit made to the Council’s children’s services in October 2019.

Inspectors considered a range of evidence, including case records, discussions with social workers and managers, and reviewing other supporting documentation. Inspectors also met with senior and political leaders and young people in care.

The report notes that the Council’s political leaders are ‘committed corporate parents’ who have ‘ensured that there is the financial and political focus needed to support service improvement’; and that the leadership team ‘has an accurate understanding of the quality of services, and improvement activity is appropriately targeted’.

The report also states that work to improve the availability of local placements for children is beginning to deliver results, and that social workers focus appropriately on children’s educational needs with personal education plans being completed in a timely manner. The report also recognises the proactive work of the Council’s Virtual School in providing comprehensive and rigorous oversight of children’s progress and being strong advocates of promoting children’s access to education and learning opportunities.

Whilst this progress is being made, inspectors noted areas for further improvement – including some remaining poor practice which continues to have a negative impact on the quality of services to children in care; and challenges in recruiting social workers and managers and continued high staff turnover impacting on implementation of basic practice standards.

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

Warren Whyte, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “This latest Ofsted monitoring visit letter shows that we are on the right track with the improvements we are making to our social care services. This is reassuring to hear. However we cannot be complacent, and we have taken on board all the inspectors’ recommendations for further improvements.

“The inspectors have recognised that the ongoing challenges we are facing recruiting social workers are hindering our improvement plans; this means we still have more to do to deliver the services that children in Buckinghamshire deserve. We are determined to continue our efforts to make the improvements highlighted in the monitoring letter. We are grateful to all our staff for their hard work and dedication as we work to further strengthen our services.”