Bristol judged ‘good’ at keeping children safe

Monday, 24 May 2010

Services in Bristol to keep children safe, and for children in care, are ‘good’, according to the latest independent inspection by Ofsted, published today.

Bristol is the first large city in England and Wales to receive a ‘good’ rating since the new Ofsted inspection regime for safeguarding was introduced in June 2009.
Bristol City Council and its partners welcomed the findings, which are a tribute to hard work by professionals across the city in social services, health, the police and voluntary sector. It includes an inspection of services and also a judgement on Bristol's capacity to improve.

Leader of Bristol City Council, Councillor Barbara Janke, said: “We welcome Ofsted’s positive endorsement of safeguarding and children looked after services in Bristol. These are high profile, high priority and complex services. It is a reflection of the great professionalism, dedication and hard work of Bristol’s child care social workers, and that of our partners, that the report is so positive.”

Bristol City Council’s Director for Children, Young People and Skills, Annie Hudson, said: “The inspection looked at the effectiveness of the city's children and young people's services - including health services, schools, the police and the voluntary sector to safeguard and protect vulnerable children, and to help children in care have a good start in life.

“There is much that everyone working in these services should feel proud of. That said, we can’t ever be complacent when it comes to safeguarding children. We are very committed to continuously improving services. The report notes that some social worker caseloads are too high and, to address this, recruitment is underway for additional child care social workers.”

Chair of Bristol Children’s Trust Board and Chief Executive of NHS Bristol, Deborah Evans, said: “This is a great result for Bristol and shows how effectively all partners are working together to protect and nurture children in the city. The inspectors concluded that services for children and their families are good, with a good capacity for further improvement. We can now take this forward to achieve our aim of excellent services for children in Bristol.”
Bristol City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Clare Campion-Smith, said: “The inspector’s report notes that there is good, cross-party political support from councillors for children’s services. On this vital issue, we are fully committed to working together to protect the welfare of children in Bristol and to ensure some of our most vulnerable children are given the very best possible future.”
Independent chair of Bristol’s Safeguarding Children Board, Dr Ray Jones, said: “As the recently appointed independent chair of Bristol's Safeguarding Children Board, I am very pleased to see the positive inspection report from Ofsted. Unlike many other areas inspected by Ofsted, Bristol has a relatively stable and experienced workforce, good inter-agency working, and managers and leaders who are in touch with front-line practice. These are key ingredients in best protecting children."
Ruth Brunt, Chief Executive of North Bristol NHS Trust which - in partnership with Barnardo's - runs all community children's health services in Bristol, said: "North Bristol NHS Trust was pleased to win the contract to run all community children's health services in Bristol more than a year ago.
"Our community staff, which include school health nurses, health visitors and doctors, are dedicated and committed to making this partnership work for children and young people in Bristol and I know they will be very pleased with this positive report from Ofsted."

The report highlighted the following areas as good:
- partnership working at both a strategic and operational level;
- direct work with children and young people who use safeguarding and child protection services;
- professionals at all levels throughout the partnership demonstrate a very strong child-focused approach;
- leadership and management, including the strengthened roles of the Children's Trust and the Safeguarding Children Board;
- all social worker posts are filled by permanent qualified staff and there are no external agency staff;
- the promotion of diversity and equality; and
- value for money.

Areas for further development highlighted in the report include improving case planning, review and recording; better evaluation, including performance management, quality assurance and workforce development. The report also raised issues around the high level of caseloads for social workers, the emergency duty service, training for community dentists and capacity in health visiting and school nurse teams.