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NW Region February 2016 Update

Update for the February meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Peer challenge

The region’s annual peer challenge process has just concluded. The process involves:

  • A regional data pack individualised for each LA identifying strengths and challenge areas
  • Each of the 23 children’s services across the region developing a self-view through a self-evaluation process
  • Each LA taking part in a dedicated challenge day with up to seven other DCS colleagues along with a specialist education professional and regional social care lead. Challenge questions produced to focus the debate
  • A dedicated NWADCS session to quickly follow up on the generic regional headlines and begin spreading the good practice identified in the process. For the first time, lead members will be involved in this session.

The regional headlines from this process can be summarised as:

  • Demography (the changing nature of communities across the region and the increasing divides across communities)
  • Sustainability (of high cost specialist level 4 social care services and volatility in the system). Evidence of good education led system approaches where the LA holds the quality assurance responsibility across the system
  • Transformation (the way local areas are looking at transformational engagement to reduce demand and spread responsibility and accountability for keeping children safe and giving all children and young people a good education) the devolution agenda in the region is playing a key role here.

Getting to Good

The region is continuing to work together to support all LAs in getting to good and beyond. The region is working in an increasingly strong partnership with our colleagues in Ofsted to achieve this. Key to the approach is the joined-up delivery of Ofsted ‘Getting to Good’ seminars. Drawing on the growing strength in key areas including CSE, Neglect, Assessment and Leadership, one round of seminars has been delivered on a pan-regional basis, with excellent engagement from across a range of LAs. The seminars are co-created between Ofsted and the lead LA. They are hosted by the LA and Ofsted extends the invitations to all.

To ensure continuous improvement, a review meeting with the regional lead DCS for social care and Senior HMI in Ofsted has identified a number of strengths in the first round of seminars, including the willingness of LAs to share strategic and operational resources, supporting others in ‘how to’ get to good, complementing the clarity of expectations offered by inspectors. A revised programme of seminars is currently being rolled out based on this review process. In addition, the Working Together to Improve group, operating in the region, continues to bring together LAs at different stages on their improvement journeys to share experiences, lessons and strategies to create the conditions for sustainable improvement. The group provides both peer support and challenge, along with input from other agencies including Ofsted and other improvement.

Future proofing

The region is taking the opportunity to reflect on the changing landscape for its approach to sector-led improvement. Recent announcements and policy moves are prompting discussionsaround:

  • The role of improvement in children’s services
  • LAs and schools
  • The devolution agenda.

This will take place through a series of strategic seminars at a variety of levels and with appropriate partners.

The ADCS President will engage in the dialogue at NWADCS meeting on the 3 February 2016.

Current SLI work continues to drive the improvement agenda, as seen in the reported activity on Getting to Good, Working Together to Improve and Peer Challenge. However, a reflection on the future landscape is timely and this will be reported in the summer months. The region would be interested in hearing from any other region engaged in such activity and willing to share thoughts and findings.


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