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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of the Nottinghamshire Councils Investigation Report

F.3: External inspections of children’s social care in the Councils

50. Although local authorities should not be relying solely on external inspections to understand if their services are performing adequately, they provide an insight into changing performance.

51. The County has received variable Ofsted assessments since 2008:

  • 2008: Services for children in care and the quality of residential care were rated as ‘good’.[1]
  • 2010: Whilst services for children in care were ‘adequate’, safeguarding services were ‘inadequate’, with significant weaknesses in staffing and failures to protect children, resulting in an improvement notice for safeguarding.[2]
  • 2011: The County’s safeguarding service was rated ‘adequate’ and some aspects ‘good’. As a result, the improvement notice was lifted.[3] 
  • 2015: Overall, the County was rated ‘good’, with positive comments about arrangements for the management of allegations against staff:

“Individual cases are managed and planned well, with timely and effective work carried out to ensure risks to individual children are assessed and addressed, as well as investigation of the adults concerned.”[4]

  • June 2018: Ofsted commented that the County’s self‑evaluation of its children’s social care had highlighted strengths in practice as well as areas for improvement.[5] 
  • February 2019: After a ‘focused visit’ assessing the County’s arrangements for children potentially at risk or in need of support, Ofsted’s report was generally positive[6] but it did not cover children in care. 

Since 2011, the County’s children’s social care service appears to have shown significant improvement. It is now in ‘Pathway One’ under the new ILACS framework, so that it receives a short inspection about three years after the previous inspection.[7] However, we note there has been no general Ofsted inspection of the County’s children’s social care service since 2015.[8]

52. The inspections of the City have been mixed: 

  • 2007: The City was rated as ‘adequate’ by Ofsted overall, with social care services improving (including in placement choice and residential homes, which now met national standards).[9]
  • 2011: The City received a ‘good’ rating for safeguarding and services for looked after children. The dedicated police officer for looked after children was described as “an outstanding example of effective support”.[10]
  • 2014: The City’s children’s social care service was rated as ‘requires improvement’ overall, including for services for children in need and children in care overall.[11] There were too many changes of allocated social worker, inadequate supervision, poor planning and poor record keeping. However, there were positive findings in relation to the placement of children outside of the City, social worker visits to children in care and the response to allegations of abuse or mistreatment of children by professional staff and carers. Young people had access to an independent advocacy service and knew how to make complaints. 
  • 2017: Ofsted rated children’s social care services ‘good’ but the progress of children in care and care leavers ‘requires improvement’.[12] The City did not always fully understand the reasons why children went missing and therefore did not always provide them with the necessary support; the City told us its practice in this regard was not yet good enough.[13]
  • May 2018: Based on a self‑evaluation, Ofsted observed that “the sense is of a strong authority continuing to manage well in a difficult environment”.[14]
  • November 2018: The City was rated as ‘requires improvement’ for all its children’s social care services.[15] Its self‑assessment did not “accurately identify all the shortfalls found during this inspection”. While there were areas of good practice (such as the management of allegations against staff and the identification of children at risk of child sexual exploitation), there were insufficient social workers, poor systems to support the education of children in care, delays in placing children appropriately and insufficient priority for securing adequate emergency accommodation. 
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