Bury children’s services continues to make "steady progress" as social work practice remains "variable", according to the education watchdog.

Regulator Ofsted found that the local authority is continuing to make progress with improvement efforts following its latest monitoring visit, which took place in August.

Inspectors have been making regular visits the council after it was handed a damning rating of “inadequate” in December 2021 after “serious failures” were uncovered at the services.

Its last review, published in May, found the service was improving despite lingering "inconsistencies". 

Following this report, the service was placed in special measures after Ofsted concluded that “children who need help and protection experience drift and delay in having their needs met".

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During its latest review, Ofsted inspectors found the service had strengthened arrangements to protect children who are at risk from exploitation.

The report, published earlier this week, said: “Since the last inspection, the local authority has continued to make steady progress on its improvement journey.

"Senior leaders have strengthened arrangements for children who are at risk from exploitation.

“The risks and needs of children are identified early by an effective multidisciplinary team and this collaborative partnership approach supports the reduction of risks for many children.

“There are effective strategic and operational relationships in Bury, which underpin the work to identify and protect vulnerable children.”

However, Ofsted inspectors found that the quality of social work remained inconsistent and acknowledged an acceptance among senior leaders that social workers’ case loads were too high.

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In its last full inspection of the service, the regulator rated the impact of leaders on social work practise as “inadequate”, citing frequent changes in social worker for many families, and difficulties with recruitment and retention.

Its latest report states that social workers now report “a positive culture in Bury.”

The report added: “Social work practice remains variable. The areas that require improvement include the timeliness of strategy meetings, the quality of assessments, plans and supervision, and the response to children who go missing.

“Senior leaders acknowledge that social workers’ caseloads are too high.

"However, social workers say they feel well supported through supervision.”

In response to the report, Cllr Lucy Smith, cabinet member for children and young people at the council, said: “We warmly welcome the results of the monitoring visit which shows great progress on our children's improvement journey.

"Though we still have work to do, the changes we have already implemented are having a positive impact on the lives of Bury children. 

"We remain committed to continue our work to improve outcomes for all our children and young people."