Bromley Council has received an encouraging progress review from the Department for Education (DfE) as it continues to phase in improvements to its children’s services.
The review is part of the monitoring that has taken place by the department and by Ofsted as Bromley moves towards a full inspection of these services later in the year.
In 2016 Bromley’s children services were rated as ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted. Since then the local authority has had numerous monitoring visits and in November last year Ofsted announced that there was now no longer any inadequate practice.
In its latest progress review, the DfE remarked on the scope of the change and the progress made against the improvement plan and the “tangible impact this has had on social work practice and culture across the service”.
The review stated: “Confidence from staff in both the management and current direction of travel is evident through the success of the council’s recruitment strategy, and is indicative of manageable caseloads and high morale.”
It added that partners were complimentary about better communication with the council and reinforced the view that the quality and consistency of social workers has improved.
In particular, the creation of a panel to co-ordinate agencies around safeguarding issues and a team to focus on child sexual exploitation and missing children, as well as an experienced chairman for Bromley Safeguarding Children Board were “indicative of established systems being in place.”
Councillor Peter Fortune, executive member for children, education and families, said: “Our pragmatic approach to Ofsted’s original judgement meant that we quickly placed children’s services at the very heart of the council’s priorities.
“By taking ownership of the improvement work, we have been able to reaffirm our corporate parenting responsibilities and prioritise children’s services driving forward positive and sustained change at an impressive pace. Now the challenge is to ensure that these positive changes are fully embedded and that we maintain the momentum so that, hopefully, the hard work so far is reflected in Ofsted’s re-inspection.”