North West Update June 2016

Update for the June meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Looking back … Looking Forward

NWADCS has undertaken a review of regional sector led activity in children’s services in April 2016. The review reflected on the successes of 2015/16 and the areas for development in 2016/17.

The successes included the number of NW councils judged to be good in recent Ofsted inspections, along with the improvements in schools.

In building upon this success, there are two areas of development which colleagues from other regions may find of interest.

1. Aligning the Ofsted conversation with the regional Peer Challenge process

There had been general dissatisfaction with the 2015/16 annual conversation process, resulting in the chair of NWADCS writing to the Ofsted Regional Director, on behalf of colleagues in the NW. This instigated a productive meeting in April between NWADCS and Ofsted where the improvement agenda was addressed.

The outcomes of the meeting included:

  • Data sharing to ensure an agreed self-view
  • Ofsted challenge which builds upon the external challenge from peers.

For 2016/17 it is proposed that:

  • A robust self-view in the autumn is facilitated by sharing of data
  • For each of the LAs, the Peer Challenge Forums in December and January will be followed by a meeting with Ofsted as part of the annual conversation. This meeting will build upon the headlines drawn from the Peer Challenge process and will share key strengths and areas for development.

In this way, the self-evaluation and peer challenge process will be strengthened by Ofsted annual conversation rather than existing as a separate entity. Ofsted colleagues can explore areas of sector- identified strength in order to feed into the Getting to Good seminars for 2016/17. These are now an important feature of the landscape in the NW Children’s Sector Led Improvement Programme and symbolise an increasing partnership between the sector and Ofsted in 2015/16.

For more details contact Zelda Massey on

2. North West School Improvement Partnership arrangements.

A North West School Improvement Partnership Board was established in 2013 to address the criticisms in the HMCI regional report and to bring greater coherence to the school improvement landscape in the NW.

In April 2016 the NW SIP arrangements were reviewed in the light of the White Paper. The review concluded that the NW arrangements provided:

  • A strong platform to deliver the demands of Educational Excellence Everywhere
  • The only forum in which all partners (LAs, Dioceses; RSC,TSC, NCTL, system leaders, MATs) meet in one place to share information, broker support and drive forward work collectively
  • A mechanism for joining up the agendas in terms of new national initiatives - Northern Powerhouse; Achieving Excellence Areas
  • A framework for sub-regional delivery, in line with the devolution agenda.

Next steps for the NW School Improvement Partnership include:-

1. Developing a concise strategic plan (roadmap) – built around core regional priorities, identifying key activities and initiatives that will address these priorities and improve educational outcomes. Aligning the plans developed by partners.

2. Developing a focused regional performance / quality-assurance framework – the Board is uniquely placed to collate and maintain the picture of the “health” of the education system across the region. Doing so will require key indicators and routines for monitoring regional priorities.

3. Building a small co-ordinating function – really effective co-ordination will be necessary to support Board members in brokering and driving progress on the Board’s agenda and priorities.

4. Reviewing membership of the Board (and sub-regional boards) – identifying key partners or agendas with relevance for the work of the Board, and ensuring that they are represented on the Board (and, as appropriate, sub-regional boards).

5. Formalising ways of working – the Board and sub-groups should build upon the current decision-making protocols and remits to link with devolution, Northern Powerhouse and delivery of EEE.

Colleagues in other regions who are interested in this work should contact Zelda Massey in the first instance.

North West Fostering Collaboration

Building on an established history of collaboration including through the Placements Northwest commissioning service and on foster carer recruitment - with the award winning You Can Foster campaign (Chartered Institute of Marketing Awards), North West LAs have further developed collaboration around fostering.

Following a period of piloting, a formal process to increase the use of inter-local authority fostering placements was launched with fostering services, Independent Reviewing Officers and commissioners earlier this year. A copy of the protocol is available on the ADCS website. The outcomes of a multi-LA fostering enquiry handling service pilot - the ‘Fostering Front Door’ are also being evaluated. If you wish to discuss this further please contact Paul Bunker, Regional Development Manager: Safeguarding and Vulnerable Children, NWADCS

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