Ofsted check-up on South Tyneside Council’s children’s services

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Social workers in South Tyneside have been praised for continuing the improvement of children’s services in the borough.

Ofsted inspectors published the findings of their latest visit to the department.

It was rated ‘Good’ at it’s last full inspection in 2017 and its most recent ‘focused visit’, which was carried out in February, found it had taken on board inspectors’ recommendations.

However, they also found improvements need to be made to maintain the quality of assessments of vulnerable youngsters.

According to the report:  “The continual improvement of performance and quality assurance systems means that senior managers and leaders know their service well, and this enables them to target resources appropriately.

“This has led to the development of a bespoke model of social work practice to better support children in need of help and protection.”

The findings noted South Tyneside Council’s effort to build a ‘bespoke social work practice model’ and, although it accepted it was too soon to see the impact of the changes, it was already beginning to improve the quality of work with children.

Inspectors also found the appointment of a dedicated ‘missing coordinator’ had improved the services available for children who go missing from their homes or care homes.

However, child protection plans ‘vary in quality’ according to assessors, with some of them too ‘adult focused’ and using too much jargon, which means the children and families affected can struggle to understand them.

The government watchdog accepted there is a ‘comparatively high prevalence of domestic abuse’ in South Tyneside, but added there was no specialist service available for youngsters who experience it.

Coun Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “It is very pleasing to see that Ofsted acknowledges a range of further improvements made by the Council since  our last full inspection in 2017 when we were rated Good.

“Inspectors recognised our continued investment in children’s services and our support to vulnerable children and young people.

“We welcome their recommendations for improvement as an opportunity to further develop our support for families, making sure all children and young people in the borough are given the best start in life.”

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service