South West Region Update April 2016

Update for the April meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Sector-Led Improvement (SLI) progress update

The regional SLI Steering Group meetings due to be held on 19 January and 6 April were both been cancelled due to low expected attendance. January’s meeting clashed with a subsequently arranged ‘Getting to Good’ inspection session, and the 6 April meeting has had too many apologies to make it viable. The next planned date was 6 July, but as this coincides with the first day of the ADCS annual conference, it will need to be changed. This risks the losing of momentum, since the Learning and Performance Summit held at the end of November 2015 was widely regarded as successful and productive, with a strong commitment to regional working.

Future meetings of SLI Steering Group

The trend towards regional ADCS and ADASS meeting on separate dates may make it possible for the SLI Steering Group to meet on the same day as the regional ADCS which would be more efficient for directors to attend, and allow the Group to have a more strategic focus, with higher level representation across the region. The aim is to set this up, if possible, for the next meeting of the Group, or if not possible, in the near future.

Selection of SLI priorities and business plan

In order to ensure progress could be made following the summit, Sara Tough, Chair of the SLI Regional Steering Group, met with Fran Havard (who coordinates SLI for Children’s Services in the region) and Andy Gill, Dorset County Council, (who contributed to the outcomes based accountability approach at the summit). This meeting was to progress the selection of two broad priorities, based on the voting that took place at the summit, and to propose a set of regional principles based on discussion at the summit. The priorities have been endorsed through the regional ADCS branch and now need to be converted into a business plan.

The proposed regional priorities were:
These were underpinned by a set of principles which were also strongly supported:
Developing regional groups to improve outcomes through supporting the SLI Business Plan

  • Preventing and tackling neglect - comprising topics such as causes and forces, what works, supporting toolkits applied more widely and consistently, with links to CSE, quality of supervision, and early help & action
  • Improving outcomes for children in care (CiC) - entailing sufficiency of provision, in-house, cost effectiveness and quality; analysis of regional profile of the CiC population to identify themes of causation and issues, more regional cooperation over placement planning and provision.
  • Focus on outcomes at a regional level
  • From talk and process to action and outcomes
  • Agreeing standard enablers i.e. assessment and intervention approaches, tools, toolkits which can be shared and used consistently, building on best available within the region or beyond, supporting toolkits applied more widely and consistently, with links to CSE, quality of supervision, and early help & action
  • Campaigns of regional messages on key topics
  • Use of standardised regional scorecards to understand data, the story behind it, focus planning, desired outcomes, action plans and reviews of outcomes
  • Topic leadership supported by key regional officer groups – developing infrastructure.

Arising from the summit, there was agreement that each of the significant specialist groups across the region (e.g. performance leads, principal social workers etc.) should have a sponsor at assistant director level who will work with them to ensure their role, brief, mandate and reporting arrangements are clear and they include working towards SLI priorities. The regional ADCS branch have endorsed this approach and agreed that each group should be accountable to either the SLI Steering Group or ADCS branch.

Groups are likely to continue their self-help dimension but will also support regional SLI priorities and be expected to work to required outputs and able to contribute an annual account of how their work has advanced the SLI priorities over the year.

Proposal for peer challenges

The take-up of peer challenges across the region improved significantly between 2014, when only six LAs completed a peer challenge; and 2015, when 12 of the region’s 16 LAs completed a challenge. The feedback at the 2015 Learning and Performance Summit made it clear that both the home and challenging LAs found the process useful and the summit provided lots of suggestions for collective action on priorities across the region, which will take some time to put in place and become effective.

In view of this, with the limited resource available for coordinating SLI, it was suggested to focus resources on progressing regional plans and actions on the two top priorities and that in 2016 the region does not aim to arrange regional peer challenges as part of the SLI programme, but consider again in good time whether this would be a priority in 2017. This does not prevent individual LAs making bi-lateral arrangements with another LA, but it means that they will not be organised at a regional level nor will there be an attempt to collate results this year.

Further roll out of training in case tracking delivered by Ofsted HMIs

With over 120 managers already trained between August 2015 and March 2016, by Chris Sands, Senior HMI/Social Care South West region, and his colleagues, work is underway to set up similar training in the far South West and in the South Eastern coastal part of the region. Despite his secondment to the West Midlands, Chris remains strongly committed to this training which continues to attract very positive responses, especially since, in response to feedback from participants, colleagues in Bath and North East Somerset have made changes to the case study enabling more nuanced judgements to be made. It is hoped to have further dates to offer in the near future.

SLI Project Manager

This post is to be hosted by Dorset on behalf of the region. Preparation is in hand to advertise the post shortly and the region hopes to appoint a suitable candidate within the next few months. In the meantime, Fran Havard will continue to support the SLI agenda, supported by Andy Gill.

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