Blackpool children’s services Ofsted inspection due next year

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Blackpool’s children’s services is expected to have a full reinspection by Ofsted in autumn 2022.

 

The department was rated ‘inadequate’ in January 2019 following its last full inspection but has been working to improve the service since then.

Vicky Gent, who took over as the council’s director of children’s services in the summer, told a meeting of the audit committee one of the main challenges to further progress was retaining and recruiting social workers.

She said: “If we want to deliver a solid improvement plan, we need a solid workforce behind us.”

Town hall bosses are expecting an Ofsted inspection of children's services next year

Town hall bosses are expecting an Ofsted inspection of children’s services next year

Ms Gent said the workforce strategy had been updated and would focus on recruitment, retention of staff, the health and wellbeing of the staff and workforce development.

She added the leadership team was now fully staffed and work was ongoing to develop the management team.

One of the areas Ofsted would be looking at was the department’s ‘front door’, including the quality of referrals, how children are assessed and the service provided to them.

But Ms Gent said decision-making, especially around children ‘on the edge of care’ who had child protection plans had been much improved.

A report to the committee said: “Ofsted carried out a monitoring visit in September 2021 and is likely to undertake more monitoring visits before a full re-inspection of the service which is likely to take place in autumn 2022.”

The department has been under intense scrutiny since its ‘inadequate’ rating, when an inspection found evidence of children left living in ‘chronic neglect’.

It was the second time in six years the service had received an ‘inadequate’ rating.

An independent review later judged children’s social care should remain under council control but said assessments must continue.

However in March this year children’s commissioner Helen Lincoln ruled there was no need for further intervention on her part because over the previous 18 months the council had made changes to enable “substantial and lasting improvement”.