Headlines: July 27th, 2011

The British Association of Social Workers is supporting Ofsted proposals for changing the social work culture by introducing ’no notice inspections’ and focusing on direct observations of social work practice.

The proposals would put an end to ‘staged’ inspections and the blame culture that is often a bi-product of the inspection process of local authority children’s services departments. Inspections need to be learning opportunities rather than part of the blame culture that is dragging the profession down.

Social workers come under enormous stress and pressure when an inspection is due which can make life unbearable. The proposals would allow an honest appraisal of the quality of service from the perspective of the child and they would address how social workers are being supported to engage meaningfully in building relationships with children and families.

The Association is advocating that the role of frontline social workers and service users is at the forefront of the inspection process to ensure that a full picture of how services are being delivered is presented and is keen to work with Ofsted to achieve this and depart from a traditional ‘top down’ approach. Good inspections must also assess the quality of leadership with a particular focus on the Directors of Children’s Services and lead council member.

The Association also endorses inspection results being presented in a way that facilitates learning, enabling employees to move forward positively rather than being condemned. Inspections need to identify shortfalls in resources as well as identifying weaknesses in the design of services.

A practitioners working group has been set up and it will collaborate with Ofsted in devising the new framework.