East Midlands Update April 2016
Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference
Regional Adoption Agency
The development work of the Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) is progressing well. Eight out of nine of the region’s LAs are partners. The other (Northamptonshire County Council) is part of another RAA that is linked to pre-existing shared services. The governance structure is now established and a substantial examination of good/effective practice in all stages of adoption work has been carried out to define the aspiration and standards of regional delivery. Lead members are being engaged throughout the process and an options appraisal is now being undertaken for some key design decisions to be reached over the summer period.
A draft regional set of CSE standards was produced at a major multi-agency seminar in October 2015 and further work has now been done to complete these for sign-off. In addition, it has been decided to use these standards as an annual audit and peer challenge tool across the region to quality assure practice. A small regional executive CSE watch-care group is being created with influence across all partner organisations to oversee this audit process.
Qualified social workers
Phase 1 of a regional agreement to collectively manage the price and quality of agency social work is now being implemented, with the project planning work for the more long-term strategic developments in Phase 2 is now being undertaken.
Two key themes are prevalent in the region at present: Preparation for the new inspection framework and the enduring challenge of high cost placements. Three regional seminars have been held in the past six weeks:
- SEND inspection readiness - learning from pilot LA experience
- Radical approach to placements for children in care with complex needs
- SEND inspection spring seminar (Mott MacDonald).
In addition the region is being funded through NHS England to undertake a study into distant SEND placements and share emerging practice that increases inclusion, delivers better partnership approaches and increases sufficiency.
Peer challenge and self-assessments
The annual regional self-assessment is currently being completed by the regional LAs for submission at the end of May. The analysis of these assessments sits at the heart of the regional approach and forms the basis of its ongoing peer challenge. In this past quarter three LAs have received either a DCS-led peer challenge team review or a more focussed safeguarding assurance visit.
The development of school-led partnerships that assume growing accountability for educational outcomes in the region is a major priority. There are now 50 teaching schools in the region and these are being linked together in mini-regional networks to organise and coordinate their plans. Representatives come together in the East Midlands Teaching School Alliance (EMTSA) which is bringing all key education partners together for a major conference in June.
FJB and greater court consistency
The regional group of ADs for safeguarding is just starting a piece of work with the chairs of Family Justice Boards and the judiciary to try to define more consistent standards for the region.
Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) CPD
In the past 12-18 months a valuable training forum for IROs in the region has been developed. Each LA can access quarterly high quality training and practice-sharing events for a modest annual subscription agreed with the second tier leads and managed by the regional group of IRO managers, and events are attended by over three quarters of the region’s IROs.
The regional group of elected lead members is gradually being linked more closely to the joint working in the region, with several assuming link/lead roles for priority actions:
- Tackling social work and wider workforce challenges
- Supporting the implementation of SEND reforms
- Achieving consistently high standards in the work of all partner organisations to combat CSE
- Further developing a partnership-led school system that tackles educational prioritieseffectively
- Influencing public expectations/ demand for LA-funded services.
The East Midlands Councils organisation has recently assumed the coordination role for the Lead Members Network.
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