Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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The majority of social workers say they are receiving good training and line management support

Ofsted’s first national annual survey of social workers’ views, Safeguarding and looked after children, with responses from over 4,000 practitioners, is published today. The survey is issued alongside a report on the views of over 1,500 third sector organisations who provide services for children and young people across most local authorities in England.

These surveys provide a window on the views and experience of front line staff as they work to safeguard and protect children.

The survey reveals that most social workers feel well supported by line managers, and are positive about the continuing training available to them in their local authority. Just over half of newly qualified social workers feel that their caseloads have been properly protected in their first year of work – although one in four do not.

However, only one in five of all social workers responding feel they have enough time to work effectively with the children and young people on their caseload. In addition, only half of social workers surveyed feel informed about issues arising from local serious case reviews or that they are made fully aware of changes to policies and procedures.

The social work survey shows that the majority (90%) of social work practitioners who responded are permanent staff who are qualified and experienced – 89% have over 12 months post qualification experience.

The third sector survey covered a very wide range of organisations, from large national bodies to small local community based organisations. Views on the quality of partnership working were mixed, with smaller organisations less likely to be or feel involved.

The quality of the training made available to third sector organisations via their local safeguarding children board was highly rated, although one third of respondents did not know whether training was available. Around a third (35%) of third sector organisations responding had made child protection referrals to the local authority in the past two years, but around a third of these reported that they had not been kept informed of the outcome.

Commenting on the surveys, Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

'These two surveys are the first time that Ofsted has provided a national picture of the views of social workers and third sector organisations on their work with potentially vulnerable children. They give us some really valuable insights. In often very challenging situations, most social workers feel well supported by their line managers and by the training available to them. However, there are some worrying findings, including the extent to which front-line staff feel involved and informed about the lessons to be learned from serious case reviews in their area.

'The third sector has a huge contribution to make in delivering services to children and their families, and there is much evidence of the value of this partnership working. However, the picture is still a mixed one. Small community based organisations feel less involved and there could be local resources here potentially going untapped. I am sure this will give a lot of local partnerships food for thought.'

Notes for Editors

1. The Safeguarding and looked after children survey reports can be found on Ofsted's website:

2. Both surveys were conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Ofsted and were carried out between February and April 2010. The social work practitioners’ survey included 129 local authorities across England where 4,141 responses were received from practitioners. The third sector organisations survey involved those representing the interests of, or providing services for children and young people in 115 local authorities in England, where 1,613 responses were collated.

3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

5. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am – 6.30pm Monday – Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.


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