The council’s Cabinet endorsed proposals to address 12 recommendations Ofsted made in its report on Lambeth’s children’s services last month, as part of the council’s “commitment to continuous improvement and delivering good outcomes for children”.
The recommendations will be taken forward in the “Children at the Heart of Practice Next Steps Plan”, which concentrates on priorities including improving adoption services, recruitment and retention, leadership and management, and promoting innovative approaches to issues such as supporting young people at risk of exploitation.
Enabling children to have the best life outcomes
The Ofsted report published in May concluded that Lambeth’s children’s services ‘require improvement to be good’, which was an improvement from its conclusion in 2015, when the service was judged to be ‘inadequate’. The improvement follows heavy investment in the service, resulting in a more stable workforce, lower caseloads and improving social work practice.
Lambeth’s Strategic Director for Children’s Services, Annie Hudson, welcomed the report – but she acknowledged that there was “much more work to do to achieve the very highest practice standards that will enable children have the very best life outcomes”.
Ofsted’s 12 recommendations for further progress, included the requirements to recruit enough adopters to meets the needs of children in Lambeth, to improve the frequency, quality and consistency of management oversight and supervision in all teams, and to offer more practical and timely help to ensure that young people leaving care gain the skills and attitudes they need to better engage in education, employment or training.
Word from the Cabinet
Cllr Jenny Brathwaite, cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We are on a continuing journey of improvement because we want all our children’s services to be good at the very least. It’s good that Ofsted has recognised the trajectory of our improvement.
“We welcome the 12 recommendations from Ofsted, as they will support further improvement and will be fully addressed in the Children at the Heart of Practice Next Steps Plan.”
An unerring determination
Ms Hudson said the improvement from the ‘inadequate’ rating in 2015 had involved been “a very long and tough journey” for all staff, managers, and partner agencies.
She added: “At the heart of all our improvement work has been an unerring determination to improve outcomes for children and families.
“Ofsted found evidence of significant improvements across many areas; importantly also they found that staff were very positive about working in Lambeth.
“However, there’s absolutely no room for complacency; we’re clear that we have to maintain our focus on improvement – right across the board, but particularly in terms of adoption – if we are to achieve the improvements we all want to see.”
The Children at the Heart of Practice Next Steps Plan will both make sure that Ofsted’s recommendations are fully implemented and that children’s social care services “promote innovative and sustainable approaches to meeting the needs of children in need and those who are looked after in the borough”.