Social workers who consistently impress Ofsted’s inspectors in the spotlight

Frontline children’s social workers who care for children and families in need in Oxfordshire will be joined by senior managers and councillors from the county council and Thames Valley Police in a special week of work from Monday, July 8.

Yvonne Rees Chief Executive of Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell District Council; Assistant Chief Constable Tim de Meyer of Thames Valley Police and Lucy Butler Director for Children’s Services at Oxfordshire County Council will join social workers undertaking their daily work in supporting the more than 2,000 children receiving help in their families and 780 children in care as well as supporting care leavers and others on the edge of care.

Senior officers will also be learning more about the work of officers who deal with education and schools, children’s homes and early help services for families and young people.

As in the rest of the UK, numbers of children in care have seen steep rises in recent years. In 2011 there were 425 Oxfordshire children in care. The number is now around 780 – an increase of more than 80 per cent. Meanwhile the budget for children’s social care will have doubled from £46m in 2011 to its forecast £95min 2023.

Despite these extra pressures, the county council’s children’s social care teams have been rated “good” by Ofsted following three consecutive inspections during the last six years. This is a record that cannot be matched by many other councils in England.

Meanwhile the county council is currently looking to recruit more than 40 children’s social workers to assist with increasing demands.

Giving every child a good start in life

Councillor Steve Harrod, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “As a council one of our over-arching aims is to give every child a good start in life. We’re proud of our Ofsted ratings but we are far more proud of the social workers whose consistent professionalism and excellence is the reason behind the county council being able to impress inspectors when they visit.

“I know that the Chief Executive, Director for Children’s Services and other senior managers at the county council share the pride we have in the quality of our children’s social care practice and they’ll once again be seeing that for themselves as they visit our teams around the county, as will I and fellow county councillors.

Positive future

Lucy Butler, Director for Children’s Services, said: “On a daily basis police officers, NHS staff, probation teams and others work very closely with our social workers to take children and their families on a journey from being in a difficult position in their lives to having a positive future.

“We are about to adopt a new model of working that has delivered very positive results in Hertfordshire where the principle of agencies working as a team around families in need has delivered amazing results, with less children coming in to care overall and those in care having to stay in care for less time.

“The fact that senior managers from our partner organisations are so keen to join us to see first-hand the work that social workers do on a daily basis in every one of our Oxfordshire communities is testament to the strength of the partnerships we have in Oxfordshire.

“Children’s services in Oxfordshire isn’t just about social care. The council still does lots of work in the world of education and schools even though so many schools are now academies, we have Children and Families Centres offering early help to families throughout Oxfordshire and of course our children’s homes.”

“We refer to weeks when senior managers go out and see the work of frontline workers as “Practice Weeks”. We have undertaken them before and they are hugely enjoyable. We are all looking forward to the week a great deal.”

Other senior managers taking part in Practice Week are: Hannah Farncombe, Deputy Director for Children’s Social Care, and Lara Patel, Deputy Director (Safeguarding); Chris Hilliard (Deputy Director of Education); Phil Dart (Interim Programme Transformation Director), Councillor Steve Harrod (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services); Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale (Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services); Councillor Ian Corkin (Cabinet Member for the Cherwell Partnership) and Councillor Liz Leffman (County Councillor for Charlbury and Wychwood).