Bradford Children Services Create Plan After 'Inadequate' Rating By Ofsted

A report said that the service has 'rapidly deteriorated' in the past 18 months.

Last year the children's services of Bradford Council were given an inadequate rating by Ofsted, who published a critical report in October, calling for urgent improvement, as it is an important service that is responsible for the most vulnerable people in the district.

The Ofsted report said that the main reason for the decrease in quality was that there was a huge increase in demand for services and at the same time, a number of social workers and managers were leaving to work for other councils.

The report was discussed by the Children's Services Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday 

Shortly after the report was released, head of Children's Services Michael Jameson left the Council, and replaced by Gladys Rhodes White who is the new interim Strategic Director. It will be her job to apply their improvement plan.

Inspectors are anticipated to return to Bradford in March for a 'monitoring visit' to see what has been done to improve the service. The council has published a 42 page plan on how they are going to improve.

The plan has now been released and says: "Our over-riding priority is to address the areas of improvement that have been highlighted by Ofsted. We are determined to focus on getting the basics right for children. Most importantly, we want to put children, and the quality of their experience, at the centre of what we do. 

"Our aim is to move quickly to a position where our services are good or better for Bradford's children."

The Improvement plan includes six different areas: 

  • The lived experience and the voice of children
  • Improving the quality of social work practice
  • Improving the operating environment to create optimum conditions for success
  • Improving the Front Door and MASH (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) arrangements
  • Improving the management oversight and quality assurance
  • Improving the sufficiency of placements for children in care.

There are 49 actions within these areas that the Council will take to improve. Including improvising the response to 16 to 17 year olds who are homeless, improving the quality of supervision of social work staff, and providing enough local placements to meat the needs of looked after children.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Mrs Rhodes White said: "We have to get to good, with a drive towards outstanding. There is good work happening already.

"Some parts of the workforce felt very nervous and apprehensive, and slightly suspicious about what will come next. There are good intentions but people feel the proof is in the pudding. We are waiting to see how these things take shape.

"Some staff are saying they have started to feel the change in culture. In the Keighley area for the first time no social workers have unmanageable caseloads"

Over 1,700 children's service caseloads have been audited since the 'inadequate' rating from last year.

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