Nottingham City Council’s children services “have made progress but there’s also still a lot of work to do,” says appointed government adviser.
In a report released in 2022 by Ofsted, Nottingham’s Children’s Services were labelled as ‘inadequate’ and as ‘needing improvement to be good’.
The report which is over 10 pages long goes into detail listing the problems not only faced by children in the city, but also the shortcomings of the institutions put in place to support them.
The biggest two issues seemed to deal with response times to children in need, as well as a problem with lack of consent between the parents/ guardians and the service providers.
In the latest council meeting the members of the Children and Young people Scrutiny Committee discussed the progress made in the months since the report was released.
Director for Children’s Integrated Services Ailsa Barr said: “We’re aware that that area of risk and potential harm is something that needs to be really focused on.
“We started that conversation before our inspection last year. A children’s service can’t operate on its own, it operates within the context of a partnership.”
She added: “But as a partnership we only started having that conversation about consent around the spring of last year. It’s a work in progress but it’s a work I can confidently say has started.”
The council is also now working with Lou Williams an improvement adviser from the Department for Education appointed by Secretary of State Nadhim Zahawi.
He explained that his role is to challenge as well as provide support to the improvement of the children’s services.
Mr. Williams also commented on the needed improvements. He said: “There has been a lot of progress in a number of those areas but there’s also still a lot of work to do.
“The committee needs to understand why consent is important. It’s about supporting everyone who works with children.”
According to committee members, the services are aiming for a ‘good’ report by 2025.
After being questioned about this target, councillor and committee member Catherine Underwood said: “We need to make sure we’re realistic about our journey of improvement.”
With Ailsa Barr adding: “It’s not about making rapid improvements to then fall back again, it’s about putting those building blocks in place.”
List of needed improvements according to Ofsted:
- Effectiveness and timeliness of responses to children’s needs when first presented
to the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH).
- Management oversight and direction of front-line work and the local authority
designated officer (LADO).
- Social work capacity, so that social workers and first-line managers can respond
effectively to children in need of help and protection, and that children in care
have greater consistency of social worker.
- Placement sufficiency for children in care and those with complex needs.
- The service response to care leavers aged 21 and over.
- The service response to young people who are aged 16 and 17 who present as
- The quality and timeliness of return home interviews.
- Oversight of children missing from education and those who are electively home