Children's service referral response 'highly effective', Ofsted says

Redbridge Town Hall. Picture: Ken Mears

Redbridge Council's children's service was the subject of a focused inspection by Ofsted - Credit: Ken Mears

Inspectors have praised Redbridge Council’s children’s service for its “highly effective” response to referrals.

Education regulator Ofsted carried out a focused inspection of the council’s ‘front door’ service for children in April.

This type of service responds to initial concerns about a child.

In a letter to the council, inspector Neil Penswick said Redbridge is making “fundamentally the right decisions” about the support families need at the 'front door'.

He wrote: “Only a small number of children and families referred to early intervention services later need children’s social care intervention, when there are changes in their home situation.”

Inspectors found the council’s response to referrals from agencies such as the police is “highly effective” and praised the speed that managers review cases and take action.

They also felt the Families Together Hub “promptly” identifies children and families that need support and that the domestic abuse focused Reach Out service was “exceptional”.

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But Mr Penswick said agencies such as the Metropolitan Police have had “limited” participation in strategy meetings since the Covid-19 lockdowns, sometimes forcing staff to carry out extra work to gather “vital” information.

The council also told inspectors it has raised concerns about the Met failing “on some occasions” to notify the council and other agencies about incidents involving children.

A Met spokesperson said: “We are working closely with senior leads in the local authority to seek to improve all aspects of our safeguarding partnership.”

Staff at the council’s front door children’s service spoke to inspectors “positively” about their workplace and “high-quality support” from their managers.

Councillor Mark Santos, cabinet member for children and young people, said the report showed how the council has delivered on its pledge to “protect the most vulnerable” during the pandemic.

He added: “These recent findings from Ofsted show we did precisely that, despite the enormous pressures we faced during that period.

“That is a testament to the sheer hard work and professionalism of our staff, who have stopped at nothing to continue delivering an outstanding service. 

“Our staff should all be immensely proud of their achievement – I certainly am.” 

Redbridge was rated as “outstanding” in three out of four areas of its children’s social care service following the last full inspection in spring 2019.