Independent reviewing officer practice praised

This piece was first posted August 2016.

Ofsted rates two councils ‘good’ – independent reviewing officer practice praised

Single Inspection Framework (SIF) has identified strong independent reviewing officer and social work practice and areas for improvement in Greenwich and in Stockton-on-Tees.

Visit our Ofsted page, dedicated to Single Inspection Framework (SIF) reports: here

IRO practice in Greenwich and in Stockton-on-Tees:-


  1. Independent reviewing officers are consistent for children and young people looked after.
  2. Reviews are timely, in the vast majority of cases. Reviews drive plans forward effectively, with clear decisions and recommendations.
  3. Children’s views are represented in the vast majority of cases, and independent reviewing officers meet them before the review.
  4. In 2015–16, 84% of children and young people attended at least one of their reviews.
  5. There is a clear emphasis on holding reviews at a time and place that are appropriate for the young person. There is also good attendance by relevant professionals.

You can also download the report: here


‘The work by the independent reviewing officers (IROs) is a strength’.

  1. Their caseloads have recently been reduced to a manageable level.
  2. The vast majority (93.4%) of children’s and young people’s reviews are completed within the required timescale.
  3. Children and young people benefit from good relationships with their IRO and, wherever possible, they visit children and young people in placement before their review. Consequently, the level of children’s and young people’s engagement in their review is good.
  4. It is acknowledged by IROs that visiting those children and young people who are placed out of borough is a challenge. However, they have begun to develop more creative measures to consult with children and young people, and currently are piloting Skype and Facetime methods. This is not intended to replace visiting placements.
  5. While there is evidence that IROs do challenge social workers and managers with regard to care planning, this does not always have the desired impact. Frontline mangers are not always effective in ensuring that plans are being progressed in a timely way. They do not always ensure that social work records or care plans are of high enough quality.
  6. While positive outcomes are achieved for most children and young people, this cannot always be explicitly linked to their care plan. Many care plans are not sufficiently focused on the outcome to be achieved, and contain too much information about the child’s history and experiences.
  7. A small number of young people have told their IRO that they find the amount of information that is contained within their plans upsetting and difficult to read. The DCS has responded positively to this feedback and is currently reviewing the care plan format. (Recommendation)

You can also download the report: here

Read piece by Luke Stevenson in Community Care: Quality of social work praised as Ofsted rates two councils as ‘good’

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