Children’s Services – Outcome of Ofsted’s ‘Focused Visit’ in July 2021

Hounslow Council has recently been assessed on its work to protect vulnerable children at risk of extra-familial harm as Ofsted resumes its national programme of ‘focused visits’ across all UK.

Published: Wednesday, 8th September 2021

Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Children’s Services,

Hounslow Council has recently  been assessed on its work to protect vulnerable children at risk of extra-familial harm as Ofsted resumes its national programme of ‘focused visits’ across all UK authorities.

The inspection looked into how the Children’s Social Care responded to children who were at risk from issues such as exploitation, missing from home, missing education and gangs.

The report said the Children’s Service at Hounslow has acted swiftly to ensure ‘most’ vulnerable children and families were appropriately identified and supported during the pandemic.

But it also said the Council is facing an increase in demand for services at the front door, linked to the economic downturn and that this had caused delays in work being completed for a ‘small minority’ of children.

The report acknowledges that it is ‘too soon’ to fully consider the impact of the work the Council has done to protect young people since restrictions came into force, as the number of referrals are steadily rising due to Covid. But the report said: “Leaders have prioritised a business recovery programme which aims to understand and mitigate known and future possible consequences of the pandemic and tackle local inequalities.”

It praised the Council for having a ‘clearly formulated’ and ‘well-targeted’ approach to tackle serious youth violence and child exploitation.

The approach recognises the importance for children to stay in education, receive parental support, engage in the community, and receive support for trauma or loss.

The recent rise of gangs and youth violence has presented a challenge for the service – the report said – but the Council had responded positively by expanding its specialist adolescent services. Most children in need of protection from extra-familial harm benefit from the specialist knowledge and skills of the social workers in that service.

Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education, Children and Youth Services, said: “The report recognises that rising youth crime is challenging our children’s services at present, but that our commitment to ensure that no child is left vulnerable is on the right track.

“It is very encouraging that Ofsted considers the Council has a ‘sound foundation’ upon which to build as we work to ensure that each and every young person is protected against crime and exploitation.”

The two-day visit, in July, focused on arrangements for the protection of vulnerable children from ‘extra-familial risk’ and assessed a range of evidence.

The OFSTED team looked at past and present performance and considered the findings of a learning review in 2019 following the death of a young person. Following this death, the partnership across Hounslow has sought to learn from it and move to build an effective partnership approach to tackling violence around adolescents.

Cllr Bruce, added: “We welcome feedback that we must do more with our partners at the point of referral to ensure there is a clear picture of what is happening to a young person from the outset and acknowledge the findings that all children at risk of ‘extra-familial harm’ should receive ‘a more timely’ response when they need help and protection.”
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