Ofsted inspectors have praised a council’s social workers for working “around” an inadequate computer system to deliver good support for children and families.
North Tyneside’s children’s services was rated ‘good’ overall but drew criticism for an electronic client database that “does not support good social work practice”.
“Despite these significant issues, social workers work ‘around the system’, and much recording is of a good quality,” inspectors said.
Senior managers had acknowledged the problem, and a replacement system is due in 2018.
More broadly inspectors praised the “high-quality social work” and “excellent focus” on the views of children in North Tyneside. The council’s services for care leavers were judged to be ‘outstanding’ by inspectors.
Social workers were well supported by senior leaders, and high caseloads had been tackled since Ofsted’s last inspection.
“There is good investment in developing a culture for good social work to flourish, with a strong emphasis on continuing professional development leading to solid social work practice,” inspectors found.
“Social workers and managers told inspectors that North Tyneside promotes a nurturing, personable culture, with visible and supportive management at all levels of the service,” the report added.
A small number of children had seen their social worker changed “too many times”, inspectors found. The report said increased staff turnover in the council was down to neighbouring councils offering higher wages and other benefits.
The council has responded by offering staff a “market supplement” as part of their recruitment and retention package while a longer-term remuneration package is agreed.