If it’s not on the system, then it hasn’t been done. ‘Ofsted Anxiety Disorder’ as a barrier to social worker discretion.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A main theme within the Munro Review of Child Protection was that social workers should be better able to employ their discretion in the best interests of the individual child. This paper reports on the results of an ethnographic case study of one local authority child protection team. The research sought to explore with 21 social workers and 4 team managers, the extent of social worker discretion within the child protection team. Employing a mixed methods design – encompassing documentary analysis, observation, focus group, questionnaire, interview and ‘Critical Realist Grounded Theory’ – the aim was to identify continued barriers to social worker discretion. Main findings highlight how a retained focus on preparation for inspection contributed towards the ‘bureaucratic burden’ – epitomised by conceptions of ‘Ofsted Anxiety Disorder’ – and served as a barrier to achieving Munro’s image for social worker discretion within the child protection team. Ultimately, despite previous efforts to reform external inspection in wake of the Munro Review, the paper concludes that there may still be more to do if we are to achieve the ‘child-centred’ and ‘effective’ system that Munro advocated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Abuse Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • discretion
  • discretionary space
  • Munro Review
  • Ofsted inspection

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