Inspectors praise city kids’ service

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INSPECTORS arrived unannounced for a surprise check up of social services for Sheffield’s children - and gave their work a big thumbs up.

The Ofsted team found the council was working well to protect the city’s most vulnerable youngsters.

Surprise inspections were introduced two years ago in the wake of the Baby P tragedy in London and are designed to make sure local authorities are doing all they can to protect children at risk of child abuse and neglect.

Inspectors praised Sheffield for its ‘diligent’ working with partners, often an area criticised for not being done well enough as in the Baby P case.

Work carried out by a joint team involving police and social workers was singled out for special praise.

It showed strong partnership working, making sure child protection referrals were done as a priority and as promptly as possible, the inspectors said.

Two other teams were also praised for the work they do to identify children and families most in need.

The report said: “This leads to good quality interventions.”

Inspectors had full access to the whole of the social services system and agreed with the council’s verdict its performance was improving.

The visit will contribute to the annual review of the performance of the authority’s children’s services, for which Ofsted will award a rating later in the year.

Cabinet member for children, young people and families Coun Jackie Drayton said: “We have some of the best front-line services and staff in Sheffield, and these results prove this.

“We give priority to the work we do with children’s social services and the results speak volumes.”

Inspectors also emphasised the council had addressed the priority area of action highlighted in a previous report and all areas earmarked for development. It also stressed the council was continuing to improve year on year.

Dr Sonia Sharp, executive director of children’s services, added: “We have clearly made good progress and in comparison to other authorities I know this is a very positive outcome.”

Inspectors asked for more to be done to make sure consistency was applied to procedures reacting to children in need - but this issue had been addressed since the inspection was carried out.