REGULATORY body Ofsted has said that Herefordshire Council has taken 'swift action' after a recent High Court judgement detailed "significant and systemic failings" in practice within the children's service.

A focused visit to Herefordshire children's services was made last month by Ofsted.

"Senior leaders and elected members have taken this judgement very seriously," said Ofsted.

"The new senior leadership team has taken swift action in identifying and implementing strategic plans to improve the quality of social work practice.

"However, it is too early to assess the impact of the changes proposed."


The report by Ofsted highlighted: Areas for priority action

◼ Address inconsistent and variable social work practice to ensure that children are

the focus of assessments, planning and interventions.

◼ The frequency and effectiveness of case supervision and the monitoring of children

who are subject to child in need and child protection planning.

◼ Shortfalls in case-holding capacity for social workers, including newly qualified

social workers, to allow them to respond effectively to children in need of help and


What needs to improve in this area of social work practice

◼ Assessment of children’s needs, including direct work with children to understand

their experiences.

◼ The oversight and grip of team managers in relation to the progression of children’s


◼ The quality of case audits.

◼ The voice of the child in case records and planning.


In a joint statement councillor Diana Toynbee, cabinet member for children's services, safeguarding and corporate parenting and Catherine Knowles, director for children and families, said: “We welcome the findings of the report, Ofsted’s priority actions reflect those identified by the new leadership team.

"It was reassuring that Ofsted confirmed we knew ourselves well and recognised that our areas to improve have already been agreed through our newly formed, multi-agency, Children and Families Improvement Board.

“Our Children’s Improvement Plan forms the basis of the long-term vision and changes to Herefordshire’s children’s services."


They added: "The delivery of this plan is monitored through the Improvement Board that is independently chaired by Gladys Rhodes-White, Department for Education Advisor, to ensure that real and sustainable improvements are made.

"This partnership approach will help to ensure that children are at the heart of everything we do and we support and help children, young people, and their families at the right time, in the right way.

“We are fortunate to have passionate and dedicated staff, managers, members, partners, foster carers and the children and young people themselves and we will continue to work together to achieve a Good Ofsted rating, but we recognise that this will take time.