18 November 2010

An unannounced inspection of child protection arrangements in Northamptonshire has found many strengths and no areas for priority action.

Ofsted inspectors carried out their inspection of Northamptonshire County Council’s frontline children’s services on 20th and 21th October.

In their findings published today (18 NOV), Ofsted found no areas of the service needed priority action. They found that child protection work is given a high priority and that the council is aware of the areas for development and taking action to address them.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “This report represents an accurate appraisal of our child protection services with a positive assessment of our procedures and staff. It once again illustrates that we have a dedicated and performing team of staff that are delivering services recognised as effective by our regulators.

“It’s very reassuring that for the second year running the inspectors found no area of Northamptonshire’s children’s services needing priority action or causing serious concern.

“The report highlights the recent changes we’ve introduced to transform the way our front-line services operate and while it’s too early for Ofsted to see the full impact of those changes, the inspectors recognise that we have adopted the right approach.”

The Ofsted findings highlight several strengths of the service, including:

  • the views of children are sought to inform their assessments
  • the effective partnership work with agencies to protect children through their contribution to assessments or by referring their concerns about children in a timely way.
  • The dedication and commitment of referral and assessment team social workers and staff

The report identified a number of areas where improvement can be made, including the need to address:

  • inconsistent management and supervision arrangements during transition periods between teams
  • the impact of workload pressures on staff ability to take up training opportunities
  • limited evidence of attention to equality and diversity in the assessments and case records seen by inspectors.

Cllr Grant added: “We’re committed to keeping our children and young people safe and protected from abuse and harm. We’re happy to take on board and address those areas that Ofsted has identified as needing development so we can strengthen and build on the work of our dedicated, professional frontline social care teams.“

The council was given no notice of the two-day inspection which examined the quality and effectiveness of contact, referral and assessment arrangements for children and young people in need.

Inspectors also observed front-line social work practice to see how well it manages the risk of harm to children and young people and minimises the incidence of child abuse and neglect.

Inspectors looked at electronic case records, supervision files and notes, and they observed social workers carrying out their duties. They also spoke to a range of staff including managers and other professionals working in children’s services.

The report can be seen on the Ofsted website.


Notes to editors
The inspections were introduced by Ofsted across the country last year in response to Lord Laming’s report on child protection published in the aftermath of the Baby Peter case.

Under the new inspections system, councils' performance is rated under three headings: strengths, areas for development and serious concerns. The inspectors had no serious concerns about Northamptonshire’s services.

The inspection regime focuses on frontline social work practice.

The unannounced inspection will contribute to Ofsted’s annual review of the performance of the council’s children’s services. In addition, each local authority and its partners will be inspected every three years.