There has never been a better time to join the committed children’s social care team at Northamptonshire County Council
Children’s services in Northamptonshire have just been praised by Ofsted for making ‘improvements across all areas’ during a recent inspection.
It comes three years after inspectors rated the authority ‘inadequate’, marking the start of an intensive improvement programme for the service, which includes child protection and looked after children.
As part of its improvement journey, Northamptonshire County Council has increased its workforce in children’s social care, from 323 in 2014 to 515 today, as well as reducing caseloads for social workers and placing a greater emphasis on staff retention and recognition.
While Ofsted inspectors recognised there is still work to do in Northamptonshire, the team praised the progress that has been made. There was particular recognition for the “excellent” Social Work Academy, which is helping to recruit the best-quality social workers, and the new multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) which is improving the way the county responds to safeguarding concerns.
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Matthew Golby said: “We were fully aware of the challenge we faced three years ago when Ofsted last inspected our children’s services and since then we have all worked incredibly hard to improve the service and make sure children and young people in Northamptonshire are safe and well looked after.
“We know there is still work to do to achieve the level we are aspiring to, but I am pleased that Ofsted has recognised our progress and the important changes we are introducing to address their earlier concerns.
“I’m delighted that Ofsted has also highlighted the work of our fantastic Social Work Academy, which is another part of the solution, as it means we can attract the best quality newly-qualified social workers and offer them training and support as they begin their social work career with Northamptonshire County Council.”
The next phase of the journey will see the transition of children’s services into a trust, commissioned by the county council to deliver services for children and families across Northamptonshire.
The creation of a trust model will enable permanent staff to be rewarded for their commitment through the introduction of improved terms and conditions, free from the constraints of the council’s pay structure.
It is hope these new terms and conditions will help to establish a more stable, permanent workforce, resulting in greater continuity of care for children and families and reducing the reliance on costly agency staff.
Cllr Golby said: “There couldn’t be a better time to join Northamptonshire County Council and be part of our ongoing improvement journey.
“Improving children’s services in Northamptonshire has been the highest priority of the council for the past three years and we are committed to embedding those improvements over the coming months.
“This new rating from Ofsted, while an important milestone, does not mark the end of our improvement journey and our hard work will continue to improve and deliver services for children and young people that we can all be proud of.”