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Good News from Ofsted

A new inspection report by Ofsted of children’s homes has provided some very encouraging statistics that hopefully will inspire social care workers across the country.

We’re delighted to outline the improvements that have occurred and provide a brief overview of the children’s social care providers' transparency data report which was published on 10 August 2023. These improvements shouldn't be understated, and the work that goes into making positive change is an absolute credit to those working in the sector.

Topline Findings

·        Out of the nearly 12 million children living in England, just over 400,000 (3%) are in the social care system at any one time. In March 2023, 37,000 children are looked after in private or voluntary establishments

·        Alongside the dominant private sector, 152 Local Authorities are currently responsible for ensuring and overseeing the effective delivery of social care services for children

·        There was a rise in the number of private sector homes, from 2,205 in 2022 to 2,450 homes in 2023. This 11% increase is in line with the 9% increase in all children’s homes, and a 7% increase in the number of places compared with 31 March 2022

·        In March 2023, 80% of privately owned children's homes were judged Outstanding or Good, compared to 77% in March 2022

·        Residential family centres saw a large proportional increase compared with last year, with a 15% increase in settings and a 20% increase in potential capacity.

Reasons to Celebrate

The outcomes from the report are extremely positive, and while there is further work to be done, it’s encouraging to see the progress that has been made since last year’s report. The number of children’s homes in the private and voluntary sector considered outstanding or good has increased to a combined 80% in 2023, with local authorities also making improvements. The number judged inadequate has also reduced across all providers (Privately owned, Voluntary and Local Authority). Although we can't predict the outcome of the next report, we fully expect these improvements to continue for the foreseeable future, which ultimately improves outcomes for the children in care.

Our Associate Director, Mark Beaver comments, “At a time when Social Care has been getting a lot of heat in the press, these statistics are a testament to the hard work put in by those working in this dynamic sector. Social Care workers in the UK play an invaluable role in shaping the lives of vulnerable children and families, and their importance cannot be overstated.

These Ofsted reports underscore the positive impact these dedicated professionals have on society. We believe they are unsung heroes who provide support, guidance and stability to those in need ­ often in the most challenging of circumstances.”

The Ofsted Framework

The Ofsted framework for inspecting children’s homes is based on three principles:

  • to focus on the things that matter most to children’s lives

  • to be consistent in our expectations of providers

  • to prioritise our work where improvement is needed most

What is the Social Care Data in England Report?

Ofsted inspects a range of children’s social care settings, including children’s homes, independent fostering agencies, residential family centres and local authority children’s services. These inspections can take place at any time and in many settings are unannounced.

The inspections include discussions with children and young people, observing staff, talking to guardians when possible, checking premises and equipment to ensure they’re safe and checking records.

This latest report covers the inspection outcomes for Local Authority children’s services inspections from 1 November 2013 until 30 April 2023. As part of their reporting, Ofsted visited 95 Local Authorities on 111 occasions in the past year.

The Value of Social Care Workers in the UK

In a sector often plagued by negative reports of staffing shortages and quality of care, it’s encouraging and exciting to see this upwards trend. As funding continues to squeeze already overstretched budgets, providers are increasingly seeking alternative solutions to achieve improvements. More often than not, they rely on the dedication of their teams, and their own ingenuity to deliver results, and these outcomes show that this approach is proving effective.

Here at Charles Hunter Associates, we know firsthand the profound difference Social Care professionals can have in the lives of others, contributing to a more compassionate and caring society. If you’d like to take your first step into a Social Care career or if you’re looking for a strategic partner to support your team, get in touch with our specialist recruiters today.