Council taking steps to keep and support social workers

Wendi Ogle-Welbourn
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn
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A city council chief has said Peterborough’s Children’s Social Care department is making steps forward - despite being told it needs improvement by Oftsed.

The department was given a rating of ‘need to improve’ by Ofsted inspectors in a new report - the same grade the department achieved in 2013.

But Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, corporate director: people and communities, said: “We want to be improving, and we have the same rating as last time.

“The report says we have made progress, just not enough to get over the bar to be good - the bar is set quite high.”

One of the big problems for the council has been the hiring and retention of experienced social workers.

Mrs Ogle-Welbourn said: “It has been an issue for a long time - the changes of social workers does cause issues for children.

“We are paying competitive rates.

“We are looking at supporting our social workers with ‘alternatively qualified’ workers - people like nursery nurses and teaching assistants. These will have experience in the area but not with social worker qualifications. The high level cases will still be dealt with by experienced social workers.”

The report praised the work done by the council in tackling sexual exploitation of children.

Mrs Ogle-Welbourn said: “The report said we have responded well to children at risk of sexual exploitation. That work will not stop. We have also worked with children who go missing and children at risk of radicalisation.

“There is a big issue with neglect in Peterborough, and we are looking at how to address this now.”

She said there was still work to be done to carry on improving. She said: “It is a slow process, but the important thing is we continue to improve and we don’t go backwards.

“I believe we are making a difference to people’s lives.

“I want to pay tribute to those social workers who have stuck with us, and worked very hard.”

The full report is available by visiting www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted