Devon County Council is to be visited by Ofsted this week as part of ongoing monitoring of the county’s inadequately rated children’s services.

The regulator, which oversees education and the provision of children in council care, will hold an annual ‘conversation’ with the council, a relatively informal interaction.

In March, Ofsted suggested there had been some progress in the children’s services department, but that “substantial improvements” were still required in some areas, with more time needed to see how other enhancements would work.

Stuart Collins, director of children and young people’s futures, told this week’s children’s scrutiny committee that further improvements had been made by the service.

“We have our annual conversation with Ofsted this week, and while they won’t give much away, any key lines of enquiry might be part of the grading inspection in the autumn,” he said.

“We won’t get any more guidance for a date of that next visit, but at the moment, Ofsted is content with our progress, which is supported by the improvement partnership board and other partners.”

Donna Manson, Devon’s chief executive, noted “extensive work” had taken place on improved ‘performance indicators’ that would better demonstrate how the service was doing.

She said data cleaning of figures showing the number of children in its care that were ‘Neet’ – or not in education, employment or training – had improved its accuracy and shown the county was performing better than it had assumed.

Cllr Alister Dewhirst (Liberal Democrat, Ipplepen & The Kerswells) said he wanted to ensure that children’s voices were being heard, something that Ofsted had criticised the authority for.

Mr Collins said the service’s participation team was getting young people it cared for to help inform potential progress, with the help of Essex County Council, which is supporting Devon to improve its service.

He added that the council had hired one care-leaver as an advocate for looked-after children.

Ms Manson said she was happy that improvements had been made, but was not complacent about the further progress required.

“As a service, it is still rated inadequate, and we recognise that for good we need to increase our audits and evidence the young person’s voice,” she said.

“We are making progress and we also need to look at the performance of our partnership with other organisations and make sure the voices of all stakeholders are represented.”

She added that the special educational needs and disabilities, or Send, partnership board is looking at priorities, including the education, health and care plan (EHCPP) process.

The slow speed of EHCP assessments and the resultant support put in place have led to protests outside county hall from parents of children with Send needs.