The extraordinary progress made in Bromley’s Children’s Services over a short space of time was reported to the Executive during their meeting at the Civic Centre on Wednesday 6 December.
The Executive heard that Ofsted’s latest monitoring letter contained some very positive feedback regarding children looked after, adoption and fostering. Particular highlights included the views of foster carers themselves who reported that they are now included and involved in the service review. The fostering team was reorganised to improve the quality of work, while well-developed plans to amalgamate the fostering and adoption panels will speed up matching children with families. Adopters spoke very positively to inspectors about their experience with Bromley as an adoption agency.
Inspectors found that the service was making steady progress in improving services for Bromley’s children and young people looked after. The letter from Ofsted reported that social workers know their children well and that there were examples of imaginative and sensitive direct work with children and families. All cases reviewed reached the required standard with examples of good practice.
Further good news came from Bromley’s Education Business Partnership through their Youth Employment Scheme (YES). The partnership reported working closely with the Children Looked After and Leaving Care teams, the Youth Support Programme, as well as the Virtual School, which works to ensure children in care reach their true potential, to identify and place young people who would benefit from a work placement to support their course or as an introduction into employment.
Cllr Peter Fortune, Executive Member for Children and Families said: “I am absolutely delighted with the outcomes and this news was extremely well received by my colleagues both as members of the Cabinet and as ‘corporate parents’. The fact that Bromley was given the go-ahead to continue running children’s services following the report of the DfE commissioner earlier this year, demonstrates the progress that has been made in such a short time. This is unprecedented. Now, where other authorities have failed the harder Ofsted test, some are already seeking Bromley’s advice; so impressive has been the turnaround so far.
“The words in the letter that stand out for me are ‘good practice’. By meeting our commitment to lower caseloads, while moving from a position where fewer than half our social workers were Bromley staff to employing just under 80 per cent ourselves by the end of December, we have allowed a greater focus on the quality of the social work to ensure that vulnerable children in the borough get the service they both need and deserve. But we are not complacent; we know there is more to do as we move towards the next monitoring visit in the spring when Ofsted will look at our Early Intervention Service. Not until well into next year will children’s services have the opportunity to show fully what has been achieved by taking part in a full inspection. We hope by then to be able to demonstrate we are worthy of a ‘good’ judgement.”
Notes to editors