Ofsted rates Cafcass outstanding

Improvement journey sees Cafcass go from inadequate in 2009 to outstanding in 2018

Published on 30th March 2018

Cafcass has been rated outstanding by Ofsted in its latest inspection report.

Ofsted inspectors said the service was worthy of its outstanding grade due to the exceptional, aspirational corporate and operational leaders work relentlessly to ensure that children and their families benefit from good or outstanding services.

Cafcass Chief Executive, Anthony Douglas said: “I am thrilled with the inspection findings. ‘Outstanding’ judgements in our sector are exceptionally rare and we are very proud to join the three other children’s social work organisations who have achieved this.”

The organisation has been on an improvement journey having been rated as inadequate in 2009 and where the Public Accounts Committee said Cafcass was ‘not fit for purpose’ in 2010, to an Ofsted judgement of ‘Good’ in 2014 and now ‘Outstanding’ in 2018. Furthermore, the improvement has been against a backdrop of a rising demand with care applications peaking in 2016-17 at 14,599 – up from 10,620 in 2013-14.

Inspectors said: “Since the last inspection, the chief executive, together with the national service director and supported by an effective and active board, have worked diligently to develop and support a culture of continuous learning and improvement,” said the report. “Stability of leadership and strong aspirations to ‘get it right’ for vulnerable children are key factors in their success.”

Ofsted highlighted:

  • Performance management is a key priority.         
  • Strong governance arrangements are firmly in place, augmented by a culture of professional accountability and respectful challenge at every level across the organisation.
  • The national business centre (NBC) is exceptionally well-managed, effective and efficient meaning that Cafcass’s services for children benefit from the support of a coherent and expertly coordinated range of centralised systems.
  • Business services and social work staff are           skilled and committed.

In order to further improve Cafcass should further improve the quality of recording in case plans and contact logs to ensure that management direction is explicit and prioritised.

The consistency of management recording in performance and learning reviews can be strengthened to ensure that areas for development are clearly articulated and evaluated.

The system to monitor the quality of work when practitioners step down from self-regulating their own work should be fully implemented and Cafcass needs to ensure that reports to court consistently explain when issues of diversity are not relevant to the application.

Anthony Douglas added: “As the largest employer of social workers in the country, being judged as ‘outstanding’ shows just what social workers can achieve. I am proud of all of our staff and all that they do, particularly our shared values about the importance of helping children and young people get to a better place in their lives. Cafcass is a great place to practise social work and we intend to now take our work to the next level. We will have to do this merely to stand still, considering the pressures we are under – the same pressures as all social work teams and organisations,” he concluded.

Ofsted inspection of Cafcass



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