East Midlands November 2015 Update

Peer challenge

An organised programme of peer challenge visits by colleagues from other LA areas sits at the heart of the region’s arrangements.This includes:

  • DCS-led Team Reviews - Within the next 15 months each LA will receive a 3-day, DCS-led Peer Challenge Team Review. PCTR team membership always includes senior leaders from a number of different LAs
  • Safeguarding Assurance Visits (SAVs) - led by the regional group of safeguarding leads (2nd tier) and typically investigate thresholds and case file audit arrangements. In special circumstances a SAV MAX can be requested that deploys a bigger team over a longer team period to provide a very thorough peer challenge. All LAs will have received a second SAV by summer 2016.

Managing the demand for and supply of agency social workers

Work is well-developed to establish agreements between LAs that start to address the impact of social care agency work on price, quality and service culture.

Regional priorities

Following the analysis and peer scrutiny of the 2015 self-assessments from all nine LAs, the region’s DCSs have identified the following priorities as themes that are most suited to joint-action in some form for the year ahead. Each priority has a link DCS and Lead Member who together guide the collaborative work in the region to deliver specific outcomes.

  • Tackling social work and wider workforce challenges
  • Supporting the implementation of SEND reforms
  • Achieving consistently high standards in the work of partner organisations to combat the sexual exploitation of children
  • Further developing a partnership-led school system that tackles educational priorities effectively
  • Influencing public expectations/demand for LA funded services.

Case file auditing
A seminar is being held in December to introduce a social work case file audit tool closely based upon the latest inspection methodologies that have recently been developed as part of Ofsted’s improvement activities in the region. The seminar explains how the tool and process relate to the current inspection framework, and how it can usefully trigger lines of enquiry to investigate the impact of service planning and delivery, decision-making and quality assure practice.

Young carers

A first regional meeting for LA Leads for Young Carers in both children’s and adult services has been held to develop practice and mutual support between colleagues. The meeting included significant contributions from John Bangs (Surrey County Council and part of the No Wrong Doors national working group) and Bill Badham (working with the Children’s Society and Carers Trust on Making a Step Change).

Tackling child sexual exploitation

A set of regional standards for partners with a role to play in tackling CSE has been developed and is being recommended as a benchmark against which to review practice. The standards have been developed from work done in other regions and were presented and discussed at a major regional seminar in October. This seminar was attended by many key leaders and decision makers from across service areas in the region. It also provided some very useful insights from the Crown Prosecution Service, Ofsted and organisations that provide recovery support for victims and their families.

Children’s workforce update

A major conference was held in the summer that was attended by workforce managers from over half of the country’s LAs. The focus was on the changing composition and needs of the wider workforce that provides family support and early intervention alongside social work. The event signalled a national need for stronger and more flexible professional development arrangements for this workforce and support for workforce managers. Consequently work is now underway to:

  • Develop a website platform to support workforce managers that contains useful information, resources and online communications
  • Promote and campaign for the nationally identified need to improve modular qualifications and flexible pathways to accredit and recognise the professional status and development of this workforce.

Regional adoption agency

The region’s proposal to develop a regional adoption agency has been approved by the DfE, for which the initial project leadership is being provided by Lincolnshire. Work is now underway to add the required details to the outline plans.

Regional framework

The tendering process is currently underway for a revised regional procurement framework contract for placements with independent providers.

Regional networks

The regional set of networks continues to meet purposefully and develop their work programmes to contribute to regional priorities. Summary information about the majority of the groups can be found on the website (see below).

Newsletter, website and discussion forum

Over 1,000 colleagues across the region and beyond receive bi-annual newsletters and a website provides a focal point for some of the regional activity and to share resources www.sectorledimprovement.co.uk. Recently, an online space for discussions has been added to provide another strand of mutual support. This is a very busy period for SLI in the region with several peer challenge reviews, safeguarding assurance visits and seminars taking place before Christmas.

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