The report was presented by Sheila Murphy. The report outlined that the last inspection of 22 February to 16 March 2016, had been undertaken under Ofsted’s previous Single Inspection Framework (SIF) and that the recent inspection of 4 to 22 November 2019 had been undertaken under the new Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) Framework. The outcome from the inspection showed that Thurrock Council was providing a ‘Good’ service that had been improved upon for vulnerable young people and in continuing to provide excellent services to vulnerable children and their families.
Referring to recommendation 1.2, the Chair asked that an additional recommendation revolving around a future update be added as she felt the Committee needed to learn more of the 3 areas of improvement mentioned. Sheila Murphy, Assistant Director of Children’s Social Care and Early Help, suggested that the additional recommendation as, “That the Committee have oversight of the refreshed development plan including the Ofsted areas of improvement, and that the development plan be presented to the Committee.” The Committee agreed to this.
Lynda Pritchard praised the service for their hard work. She questioned whether the Committee could have sight of the development plan before the next Committee meeting in the new municipal year. Sheila Murphy answered that a development plan had been in place prior to the Ofsted inspection but had been refreshed since then. An update of the actions and timescale for outcomes would be brought to the next meeting. The Chair asked that an update be provided via email before the next meeting.
Nicola Cranch also gave praise to the service and thought the Ofsted comments provided within the report were positive. Councillor Muldowney echoed this praise and agreed that sight of the development plan before the next meeting would be good. Councillor Redsell was pleased to see how much the service had changed over the years and congratulated the service on the Ofsted rating obtained.
Sheila Murphy mentioned that Ofsted had sent the service a young person friendly report and asked the Youth Cabinet how the service could make this publicly available in the best way possible to reach young people whether it would be through the Council’s website or another pathway. Alicia Jones admitted that young people did not often look at the Council’s website or the Council’s social media channels. However, she felt that the Council’s website was still the best method of communicating the report to young people as some may still look on the website.
The Committee further discussed pathways to reach out to young people through reaching out to schools, libraries and social media.
Referring back to the update of the development plan, Sheila Murphy said the draft of this could be sent out to the Committee in March 2020 and then again before the next meeting in the new municipal year should the Committee membership change.
Councillor Rigby asked how the achieved Ofsted rating compared to the last inspection rating. Sheila Murphy explained that the last inspection had been based on the SIF and had received a ‘Requires Improvement’ rating but this inspection under the ILACS framework, had achieved a ‘Good’ rating.
Councillor Muldowney questioned if the two frameworks were comparable. Sheila Murphy explained that they were not as each framework differed. The ILACS Framework was a process of inspections and looked at services through the ‘lens of a child’ and was less interested in speaking with officers. It looked at the impact of services and asked for evidence of this impact.
The Chair questioned when the next inspection was expected to take place. Sheila Murphy replied that a focused visit was expected in a year’s time but may look into a specific area. The Council may even be subject to a Joint Area Targeted (JAT) inspection where an inspection could be undertaken at 6 Local Authorities at a time to look at a specific theme running. This theme currently revolved around mental health in young people.
RESOLVED (with additional recommendation of 1.2):
1.1 That the Committee noted Thurrock’s outcome from the Ofsted ILACS and offer their unanimous thanks to all officers and elected members of the council involved in achieving the Good rating.
1.2 That the Committee have oversight of the refreshed development plan including the Ofsted areas of improvement, and that the development plan be presented to the Committee.