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Ofsted children's service report 2016

As a local council, we are taking steps to improve our support to children and young people, according to a report by Government inspectors Ofsted published today (Monday 23 May).

The Ofsted report (opens in a new window) comes after an in-depth inspection of children's services in February and March. It was found that services for children in need of help and protection and those both in and leaving care, 'require improvement to be good'.

Ofsted also inspected our services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers together with a separate, parallel review of the Dorset Local Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB). 

There was a large amount of work involved for many of our staff, as we:

  • prepared and submitted 1,214 documents
  • undertook 26 multi-agency case audits
  • responded to 73 key lines of enquiry
  • arranged 254 meetings
  • involved approximately 625 people

Findings of the report

The main inspection report finds that 'children's services in Dorset 'require improvement to be good'. In summary, Ofsted found that:

  • Dorset knows itself well - the inspection team recognised strong leadership
  • some planned improvements are already in place prior to the inspection under Forward Together for Children and other plans are currently in progress
  • there is a mechanism in place to implement the recommendations from the inspection and to regularly review progress

Inspectors identified a number of positive aspects:

  • Ofsted did not identify any children at immediate risk of significant harm
  • there were no cases where children were subject to child protection plans or in care where this appeared inappropriate
  • Dorset's children's services make things better for most children
  • Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) arrangements are sound, as are our out of hours services
  • adoption services are good
  • the use of legal proceedings in permanence planning is effective and timely 

Review of the DSCB

In a separate review, the effectiveness of the partnership-based DSCB was examined and found to be 'inadequate'.

A number of significant issues were identified from the review. Inspectors judged that the DSCB is 'inadequate' because it is not monitoring the effectiveness of help being provided to families or providing sufficient challenge and leadership at a strategic level. 

The senior leadership team, Cabinet member and Chair of the DSCB are committed to being up-front, open and honest about Ofsted's findings, which show clear areas for improvement of which we were aware and recognises the progress that we have already made on our improvement journey.

See the full Ofsted report

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