Agenda item

OFSTED Focused Visit Update and Response


Councillor Carlyle (Cabinet Member for Education, Participation and Skills) introduced the report to the Committee. Sharon Muldoon (Director of Children’s Services) and Jane Anstis (Service Director for Children, Young People and Families) provided an update to the Committee and highlighted the following key points:


Ofsted conducted a two day visit on 14th December 2022;


There had already been an improvement plan in place following the appointment of Sharon Muldoon (Director of Children’s Services) which focussed on the Front Door;


There had been a need for a stronger Early Help offer which was launched on 23 January 2023. People were able to pre-book onto an advice line and this had been designed following feedback from schools and early help settings advising that it would take too long to get support through the Gateway;


The two priority areas talked about consent and thresholds and the requirement for partners to have a solid understanding of seeking consent from families before making referrals to Children’s Social Care. There would be a city wide event for partners of 26 April 2023 which would advise practitioners on consent and thresholds;


There would be a fortnightly meeting with Police colleagues which would look at incidents of ‘No Further Action’ which would evaluate whether the correct decisions were being taken;


There were positive narratives around the Senior Leadership Team and the direction of travel. Additional resource had been provided by the Council to implement the changes required; 


There was an additional team manager and improvement manager which would support development and understanding within the front door service in areas such as consent and understanding and applying consistent application of thresholds;


The second priority action plan, timeliness of safeguarding functions for Strategy discussions and Initial Child Protection Conferences, there had been an additional team manager in place which would chair Strategy discussions to ensure timeliness.  The Service Manager within the conferencing space had worked hard in understanding the changes required and has since seen the service come from a concerning low base to a good standard of service;


In response to questions raised it was reported that:


It was agreed in September for additional resource for an Improvement manager as part of a transformation bid;


The Early Help offer had been fragmented and the service would be looking to enhance this and to make use of the good assets within the city as well as combining the family hub programme into the offer;


There was six weekly events in which the whole service would meet and was well attended to get the right culture in place. Staff awards took place weekly and was generating positive activity and Sharon Muldoon and the Senior Leadership Team were present in the staff building having open conversations with the workforce regularly;


The issues around continued professional development and workforce development particularly around large caseloads and complexity were going to be rectified via the new Targeted Operating Model which would re-design some of Plymouth’s services;  


The structures in place involved lots of handovers for families as they moved through different parts of the service. This was being re-designed and the service would move to a locality structure that would provide continued support for a family;


Domestic abuse training had been revised and was providing a refreshed toolkit to support professionals. The introduction of the additional team manager was providing an improved triage response to domestic abuse;


In relation to partners involvement in understanding consent and thresholds, instead of partners filling out forms, they would be calling in to have a conversation where they would be able to have advice;


The Committee would be able to see if the advice line was working through how many referrals were being made into the MASH. The Committee should also begin to see the number of families within the Early Help population increase with the number of safeguarding referrals diminishing. There was no waiting time on the advice line as people were using the booking system, this would be monitored continuously and the service would move resource if required;


The Committee agreed to note the report.











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