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10 - Fourth positive visit by Ofsted

Councillor Anne Millward, cabinet member for children's services
Councillor Anne Millward, cabinet member for children's services

Ofsted inspectors today praised Dudley Council’s ‘positive progress’ as it continues to improve the lives of children and young people in the borough.


In a letter to the council, following a fourth successful monitoring visit last month, inspectors praised the dedication of social workers and the actions taken by managers to continually improve services. 


Ofsted said the council “...with the full support of its senior leaders, elected members and partners, remains self-aware and continues to improve. The implementation of the local authority’s improvement plan is resulting in positive progress.”


This is the fourth positive visit to have taken place since the council’s children’s services were rated inadequate by Ofsted in April 2016. 


During this visit, inspectors focused on the progress made in the area of children in need of help and protection and the quality of social work practice.


It found improvements in social work practice had resulted in children’s views being better understood, with care plans increasingly reflective of their needs.


The local authority was praised for its positive working environment and strong learning culture, giving managers the skills they need to support social work staff. Both managers and social workers were complimented on the pride they had in their work, their dedication and their commitment to improving services for children in Dudley. All but one frontline management posts are now filled by permanent members of staff, and there is a strong focus on continual professional development. The council was recognised for its emphasis of the importance of professional development, which puts children's needs at the heart of what they do.


Praise was given to the council’s work with the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), with processes to manage and assess cases being dealt with clearly and effectively. Agencies were praised for working well together, focusing on the needs of children and involving children and their parents and carers in decisions which affect their futures.


The letter recognised the impact of the independent reviewing officers (IRO) to challenge social workers, team managers and senior managers.  Issues raised by IROs are child-focused and are being responded to appropriately by social workers and team managers, which has resulted in “improved outcomes for children.”


Councillor Anne Millward, cabinet member for children’s services, said:

“We are delighted to have received a fourth successful monitoring visit, which demonstrates we are continuing to move in the right direction to transform services. I’d like to praise the dedication, commitment and professionalism of social work staff, which was also recognised by inspectors.


“Since the inspection last year, we have worked extremely hard to make real changes.  We are pleased inspectors have recognised the dedication and commitment of staff, and the positive and supportive management culture which are together helping to ensure children are safe and receiving appropriate care and support.


“Although we are making positive steps, we will not rest on our laurels. We know there are still areas where improvements need to be made and we have plans in place to address these as we move forward.”


The council will continue to receive visits from Ofsted inspectors at regular intervals over the coming months as it continues to implement improvements.


A full copy of the letter can be found at https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/local-authorities/Dudley

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