OFSTED has reported “important improvements” have been made to children’s services in Tameside.
In a report published on July 1, inspectors noted a “much strengthened whole council commitment to improving the quality and impact of children’s services” in the borough.
They added this has not only been the case in the children’s services department but also more widely within the local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and political leadership.
They also said “there has been a notable increase in the pace and effectiveness of service development” and that leaders “have an improved understanding of how well services are working for children”.
Their visit in May 2019 followed an inspection in 2016 when services for children in Tameside were judged to be inadequate.
In their most recent visit, inspectors graded the services as ‘requires improvement to be good’ – which acknowledges the significant improvement work which has taken place in the last two years while also highlighting areas for further focus.
Among the examples of key improvements which have been made, Ofsted highlighted the scale and effectiveness of early help services, which have been strengthened through a new locality-based model that they said is “serving most children well”.
Inspectors found the new multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) is ensuring referrals about children who there are safeguarding concerns for are almost always dealt with quickly and appropriately and the ‘edge of care’ team works intensively with families to ensure that children only come into care when they need to.
They also said the new preferred signs of safety model of social work practice was helping to strengthen how children’s views are sought. And they reported that recruitment and retention efforts mean most social workers now have manageable caseloads.
The report also said that the frequency and regularity of management oversight and supervision had improved.
Areas highlighted in the report to focus improvement include: the timeliness of achieving permanence for children in care; challenge by senior leaders, managers, and conference/review chairs about the pace and quality of social work and placements for children in care; consistently using children’s views and feeling to inform assessment and plans and; children’s experience of being able to develop a relationship with a consistent social worker who visits them regularly and makes sure their plans are progressed.
Tameside Council deputy executive leader Cllr Bill Fairfoull, who is for responsible children and families, said: “An enormous amount of work has gone into turning the service around since the last inspection and I’m pleased Ofsted has reported notable improvements.
“The inspectors gave some positive feedback about key parts of the service and identified areas for ongoing improvement, which will provide a clear focus for our continued improvement journey.
“Ofsted acknowledged we have an improved understanding of our services and notably referenced our strengthened partnership working.
“I believe we are in a strong position to keep improving further and achieve our ambition of providing outstanding children services to support local children and families to achieve their best potential and live better lives.
“Thank you to everyone from staff and members to our partners for their continued hard work and commitment to supporting local families.”