Inspectors from Ofsted have praised Oldham’s commitment to keeping children safe.
The findings, based on a focused inspection in November last year, have been summarised in a letter that praised senior leaders and the support that Oldham children have been receiving throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cllr Eddie Moores, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Oldham Council, said: “We have a committed team who work tirelessly to continually improve how we protect our young people in Oldham and I’m glad that this new report shows we’re heading in the right direction.
“Despite the difficulties COVID-19 has brought we’ve maintained focused on keeping children safe whilst also improving the quality of social work practice in Oldham. This report has shown that our work has been making a real difference to children’s lives and that reflects how far we’ve come as a service.”
Rather than a full service inspection, this was a focused visit where inspectors looked at arrangements for children in need, including those who are subject to a child protection plan. They found that children in Oldham are seen regularly by social workers who know them well. This has continued despite various lockdown restrictions and an increase in child protection plans. Where these plans occurred they found an appropriate level of oversight was taking place on their progression.
When children were at risk of harm they found timely responses in effective and purposeful social work which lead to improvements in children’s outcomes. For children living in a crisis on the edge of care, a well-coordinated multi-agency response was recognised. Social workers themselves were found to be well supported both formally and informally by their managers.
Cllr Moores added: “We know more work needs to be done to ensure we maintain a consistently high quality of practice across social care and plans are in place to address this. We’ve seen an increased demand on our services during the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re investing heavily in our social care workforce so we can meet that demand.
“I’m proud of the way children’s services has been reflected in this report. We’ve shown that we’re committed to supporting our most vulnerable and we understand who needs our help. I’ve offered my heartfelt thanks to our brilliant social workers for achieving the high standards of care that have been shown.
“Work will continue so we can improve where we need to and maintain where we are already doing well so that we can ensure every young person in Oldham gets the best possible start in life.”