Eastern Region Update April 2016

Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Peer challenge, self-assessment and peer review

The revised self-assessment process for 2016 is underway and was piloted by one LA in the region (Luton Borough Council). The outcome of the pilot was positive, receiving the following comment in a recently published SIF report: “With increased openness and transparency, a robust self-assessment and a clear sense of purpose and direction, decisive action has been, and continues to be, taken to improve performance and drive up practice standards.”

Following this, the new process was successfully launched on 1 March at the SLI Programme: Evaluation and New Self-Assessment conference. Once each LA has completed their self-assessment, the information will be reviewed by a subgroup of Performance Information Management Group (PIMG) before key findings are identified and prioritised during a DCS peer review workshop. This will enable the region to review the current priorities, closing those that are finished or no longer contribute to the outcomes of the programme and initiating others that resonate in the region.

To further develop this overall process a small working group of assistant directors from the Families, Communities & Young People (FCYP) group are being brought together to build on our current peer review arrangements to strengthen the focus on maintaining good and achieving outstanding performance.

Separately there will be up to five peer reviews completed in the region. The first will focus on children in care and care leavers, the second on the LSCB and the remaining three on domestic abuse. The focus on school improvement continues with one peer review being completed in March 2016.

Regional benchmarking

The use of benchmarking performance information across the region has proved to be very successful in being used as part of the self-assessment process, within individual LAs performance reporting routines and to inform practice discussions during network meetings. To build on this, additional measures will be added from this month (April 2016) to focus on key areas identified by the FCYP group. This will be supplemented by three deep dives with the first focusing on Special Guardianship Orders.

A revised approach to benchmarking early help will be used in 2016/17. The plan is to use the early help section in the self-assessment to understand how each LA is setting up their early help offer and then to ask each LA to provide information (on a quarterly or half-yearly basis). This will be a combination of indicators that are considered useful but the emphasis will be on narrative. Although this will make data comparisons difficult, it should be a useful way of understanding early help in the region.

Voice of the Child (VoC) in Child Protection

It is now approaching a year since the delivery of a change project by Research in Practice (RiP) to deliver a number of tools and approaches to improve the capture of the VoC in Child Protection. The final step of this regional priority is to run a workshop, whether facilitated by RiP or someone in the region, to share best practice and formally close this piece of work. It is anticipated this will be completed in late spring.

Cultural diversity and understanding in social work practice

As one of the regional priorities, it has been agreed to use expertise in the region to develop resources that will then be implemented by each LA individually. The aim is to “improve social work assessment practice in relation to gathering information and analysing children’s cultural identity to effectively analyse their needs and promote their safety and wellbeing”. The strategic workforce leads and principal social workers will develop and quality assure these resources prior release.

Leadership and workforce development

Recently, the regional DCS group was updated on the progress of the QSW project, with the aims of outlining the programme for 2016/17. The key areas of focus agreed were:

  • Continuing work on managing the agency social worker market
  • Regional training programme for front line team managers
  • Developing work on alternatively qualified staff.

SLI programme website

Work is underway to build a new SLI programme website for the region replacing the defunct Eastern Safeguarding Project website that is no longer maintained.

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