Town Hall lays out action plan in response to Ofsted criticism of children’s services

Hackney Town Hall.

The Town Hall has revealed an action plan in response to an Ofsted warning over a slip in the “quality of practice for a substantial number of vulnerable children”.

A visit by the watchdog in March found that some Hackney social workers had not been paying enough attention to the “lived experience” of children.

Inspectors also reported that risk assessments carried out on male or dominant partners were “not sufficiently robust”, and that a significant number of children “wait too long for adequate help and protection”.

The Town Hall has now put together a 39-point action plan to address the concerns, with the aim of making the voices and views of children clear and apparent in all decision-making.

Sarah Wright, director of Hackney’s children and families service, said: “The service has responded proactively to the focused visit outcome, embracing this as an opportunity to ensure we are achieving continuous development both in our delivery and in outcomes for children, young people and families.

“Over the coming months we will be continuing to deliver improvements and to gather evidence on the impact of changes made.

“We will also be actively preparing for a full inspection so that we are to confidently demonstrate the high quality work our practitioners deliver to children and families.”

Amongst the changes being made to the service are to include the child’s lived experience as the first item for each case discussion, as well as to develop an age appropriate ‘writing to/for children’ development package for staff.

New risk assessment guidance for working with perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse is also expected at the end of the month, with the Town Hall already having rolled out a new live performance reporting system to tackle Ofsted’s concerns over the timeliness and impact of social workers’ practice.

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble (Lab, London Fields), deputy mayor and cabinet member for education, young people and children’s social care, said of the visit’s outcome in March: “Making judgements about a family’s future is seldom easy and we know that there is more that we can do to enable more structured decision-making.

“We’re also mindful that we need to be careful not to rush a process which has a profound, life-long impact on children and young people.

“We have a strong, skilled and committed team of social workers who will work with leaders and partner agencies to make the adjustments that are needed to get the balance right between supporting families to stay together where possible and acting decisively at the right time.

“Looking after vulnerable young people is one of the most important things we do as a council and we are determined to get it right.”