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Ofsted Children's Services report 2017

As a local council, we're taking steps to improve our support for children and young people, according to a report by government inspectors published by Ofsted (May 2017).

Read the full Ofsted report

The Ofsted report comes after an in-depth inspection of Children's Services in February and March 2017. 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 inspected our services for:

  • children in need of help and protection
  • children looked after
  • care leavers

They also conducted a separate, parallel review of the Dorset Local Safeguarding Children Board (DSCB).

There was a large amount of work involved for 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

The report findings

The main inspection report found 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's 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 hones about Ofsted's findings, which show clear areas for improvement and recognises the progress we've already made on our improvement journey. 

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