Reading’s children’s services’ response to concerns about children at risk is quick and effective, according to a report by Ofsted inspectors published today (8 May).

Ofsted inspectors found the service offered by Brighter Futures for Children’s CSPoA (Children’s Single Point of Access) mirrors improvements made when the service was last inspected in 2017.

During the visit, which took place between 12-13 March, inspectors focused on the following:

  • the effectiveness of the children’s single point of access (CSPoA) in responding to concerns about children
  • the early response to risk, particularly strategy discussions and child protection enquiries
  • the effectiveness of the arrangements for ‘stepping up’ or ‘stepping down’ between different levels of intervention.

Inspectors praised the way the CSPoA was run, with co-located and virtual partner agencies effectively sharing information and attending meetings and making decisions.

They were also complimentary about practitioners’ shared understanding of thresholds and timescales for initial screening and enquiries.

However, the purpose of the monitoring visits is to look at improvements and inspectors were critical of the pace of change, the inconsistent quality of social work practice and the quality of data.

Inspectors acknowledged the change in the way the service is now managed and that relevant partner agencies do not always contribute to strategy discussions or fully understand the thresholds for entry into children’s social care.

‘We are pleased that improvements have been sustained and we are working hard to improve practice across our services,’ said Antony Kildare, Brighter Futures for Children’s Managing Director.

‘We are streamlining our processes to capture data more accurately. This will give us better performance management information on frontline practice, which will be shared regularly with leaders and with managers. It will help us to robustly monitor and better manage the quality of social work practice,’ he added.

Eleni Ioannides, interim Director of Children’s Services, said: ‘We know there are areas which need addressing in terms of oversight and the consistent quality of social work practice but we’re at the start of our improvement journey and this report indicates we’re on the right track,’ she said.

Cllr Liz Terry, Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: ‘The initial speed and effectiveness of the response to each case brought to the attention of the Children’s Services team is critical, as is the appropriate ongoing treatment of that case.

‘I am pleased to see the improvements to the service recognised by Ofsted inspectors but note the areas where more work is required and will be keen to see further progress in these areas happening more quickly.’

The full report can be seen on Ofsted’s website: The direct link (look for 12 March, published on 08 May 2019) is: