Inspectors say that Nottingham City Council is continuing to make good progress on an action plan to improve its Children’s Services department.
The authority was visited by Ofsted early in 2022 and presented with a report in July that year which graded the overall service as ‘Inadequate’.
This led to a series of further two-day inspections as part of a wider monitoring regime. The first of these was on 28 February and 1 March 2023, with the second on 25 and 26 July, and the most recent one on 22 and 23 November.
Inspectors commented after the first two visits that senior leaders had taken swift action after identifying things which needed to change, that staff morale was better and there were clear improvements with the speed of response to support children in the first instance.
They recorded ‘tangible improvements’ in fieldwork practice through a ‘committed and stable leadership team’, and that children build strong relationships with their social workers.
The most recent inspection in November focused on support provided to young people between 18 and 25 who are leaving care. Inspectors have noted in a letter to the council:
- Senior leaders have built on the improvements of previous inspections amid challenging conditions for the council as a whole. They have invited external scrutiny and worked with staff and care leavers to refocus Children’s Services
- Step changes and service modifications are helping young people and their families as they move out of care – with especially strong support for vulnerable and disabled individuals
- Personal advisers working with young people build strong, positive relationships to maximise help and support
- Quality assurance and auditing processes have been strengthened
- The council has developed effective working arrangements with its own housing team and private providers
Inspectors highlighted some further areas for improvement, including more permanent recruitment to move away from agency staffing and ensure the current pace of change is maintained.
They also mentioned the need for consistency with personal advisors because some care leavers reported they found it hard when new people started, plus the need to update plans more quickly when young people’s circumstances have changed.
Councillor Cheryl Barnard, Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Education at Nottingham City Council, said: “We remain committed to our journey of improvement in Children’s Services and the latest letter from Ofsted confirms that the council continues to make positive and significant steps.
“However, we know there is still much work to be done as we continue to effect the positive change rightly expected by Ofsted to ensure all vulnerable children in Nottingham are well supported.
“I’m pleased that inspectors have recorded sustained improvement over their three visits following the initial inspection report eighteen months ago. There will now be a renewed focus on the areas we’ve been asked to look at further, alongside the positive changes already made.
“We understand the pressure and demands on Children’s Services in a city like Nottingham with historically high levels of deprivation, and remain committed to improvement in order to fully support our children and young people.”