The Deputy Mayor and Executive Member for Children’s Services and the Executive Director of Children’s Services submitted a report for the Executive’s consideration. The purpose of the report was to provide information on the progress made against the Children’s Services Improvement Plan, with particular reference to the findings of Middlesbrough’s Ofsted Monitoring Visit in December 2021.
Ofsted had carried out a Monitoring Visit to Children’s Services on 14 and 15 December 2021. The letter summarises the findings of the monitoring visit (published on 31 January 2022) was attached to the submitted report (see Background Paper 3). The visit had focused on work with:
· Children in Need
· Children in Need of Protection
· The Public Law outline process - a formal process of work carried out to prevent work with children being escalated into court.
The findings and evaluation of progress were outlined in the submitted report, the Council’s strengths were detailed at paragraphs 6 to 15 and areas for development were included at paragraphs 16 to 23.
In terms of next steps, the improvement plan would be revised to reflect the areas for development highlighted by the Monitoring Visit and there would be a determined focus on moving the quality of practice.
At least two more monitoring visits were planned to take place, the first of which would be in March 2022, followed by one in June 2022. The March visit would focus on court work, permanence (which was a significant factor in the Council receiving its inadequate grading in January 2020) and looked after children.
In the autumn, Ofsted planned to consult with the Council in respect of its readiness for a full inspection to determine whether there should be another monitoring visit, with a full inspection likely to be at the end of 2022 or early 2023. Although moving out of intervention as soon as possible seemed positive, the view of the leadership team was that by waiting an additional few months the Council could gain a higher Ofsted grading which would stand the authority in good stead going forward.
The Multi-Agency Improvement Board met on a six weekly basis and would continue to do so, at least up until the full inspection. A board development session, focusing on systems leadership across all agencies working with children, was planned for April/May 2022.
The other potential decisions that had not been recommended included:
The Executive could have chosen not to formally note the report but that would have meant that the improvements to services for Middlesbrough’s most vulnerable children were not formally recognised.
1. That the progress made to improve outcomes for Middlesbrough’s vulnerable children, as set out in our Children’s Services Improvement Plan 2020/2023, be noted.
2. That the effect of the work on showing ‘Middlesbrough Children that they Matter’ be noted.
To ensure that Members were fully briefed.