Children’s services at Surrey County Council have improved substantially over the past year according to an Ofsted report following a monitoring visit last month; the report states that “senior leaders and managers have made substantial progress in improving the response to children who are at risk of significant harm.”
Ofsted observed substantial progress in Surrey’s frontline safeguarding work with children over the last year with improvements in the timeliness and quality of interventions.
The report showed that reduced caseloads for social workers is having a positive impact on outcomes for children. Social workers are able to dedicate more time to planning and direct work with children now that their caseloads are at a manageable level and they found practitioners to be confident, skilled and enthusiastic when talking about children and their work. Caseloads have significantly reduced to an average of 15 in the teams seen during the visit, compared with an average of almost 30 during the last full inspection in early 2018.
Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People & Families said:
“We should be extremely encouraged by this latest report from Ofsted which recognises the hard work going on to turn Surrey’s children’s services around. There is lots more to do to build on the progress we’ve made and I am confident that working together we will continue on this positive improvement journey across our services for children, young people and families.”
Ofsted were encouraged to see that children’s views are being heard and that steps are being taken to engage children of all ages and abilities through imaginative work. Surrey County Council was recognised for improving its partnership working with a wider network of agencies, particularly police and health colleagues, to better inform decision-making in both operational and strategic safeguarding work.
Since being judged as ‘inadequate’ in May 2018, Surrey’s children’s services have had regular monitoring visits from Ofsted and been delivering an ambitious improvement plan under the guidance of a commissioner – Trevor Doughty, Director of Children’s Services at Cornwall County Council. Ofsted will be carrying out their next monitoring visit in spring of next year to assess progress and improvements for a different area of children’s services. .
Surrey’s children’s services are committed to tackling the areas for development highlighted in the Ofsted report to continue improving consistency and outcomes for children. Managers and social workers must work to ensure that children’s plans, actions and interventions are clear and effective, particularly when working in partnership with other agencies.