Birmingham City Council’s children’s social care services have not been rated inadequate for the first time in more than a decade.
Ofsted has rated the council ‘requires improvement’ in all areas following an inspection in December, with inspectors acknowledging standards have been continually rising since the launch of the council-owned Birmingham Children’s Trust in April last year.
The regulator has previously said a lack of support for social workers in the city was key evidence of “entrenched” failures by management, adding there had been too many “false dawns that have raised expectations but ultimately failed”.
In a report published today Ofsted said “significant” improvements mean responses to child protection concerns are now effective and the voice of children in care is given high priority.
It adds: “The delegation of statutory functions to [Birmingham Children’s Trust] has enabled the re-vitalisation of both practice and working culture, and, as a result, progress has been made in improving the experiences and progress of children.”
Trust chair Andrew Christie said progress had been made but there is still more to do.
“We now have a stable workforce, with low rates of agency social workers, lower turnover, more social workers joining us and fewer leaving the trust and, as the inspection notes, our staff know their children well and go the extra mile,” he said.
Children and families minister Nadhim Zahawi described the judgement as a significant milestone.
He added: “This government will not hesitate to intervene where children are being let down, but today’s report is down to strong leadership and the hard work of staff at the trust and council.”
Kate Booth, Birmingham’s cabinet member for children’s wellbeing, said: “I am very pleased that Ofsted have recognised the continued progress made by the council and the children’s trust in delivering improving services for vulnerable children in the city.
“I want to pay tribute to councillor Brigid Jones who led the service and drove improvement for many years. We know what we need to focus on to build on this improved position, and we are confident that together the council and the children’s trust will maintain progress and deliver children’s services that are consistently good.
“I am grateful to the social workers, family support workers and managers whose commitment has made this progress possible.”
The report said while improvements had been made, social care services are not yet consistently good and warned partnership working across agencies had not improved quickly enough, with police support inconsistent in a small number of cases.