West Midlands November 2015 Update

Peer challenge

Over the past three years the region has developed a process to improve its self-assessment and performance through reciprocal peer support and sharing of good practice. All 14 LAs participated in this year’s peer challenge in October, building on improvements in self-assessment quality since last year.

Key themes of improvement were identified, such as providing a broader picture of children’s services by including school improvement/education services and increasing numbers of evidenced statements about quality. Common areas for improvement have also been identified with recommended next steps (as well as priorities for improvement work for the next year) being presented to chief executives, Lead Members, scrutiny chairs and LSCB chairs at the planned Leadership Summit in March 2016. More information about the programme can be found at http://www.wmadcs.org.uk/peer-challenge-process-2015-2016/

Managing the demand for and supply of agency social workers

The Social Work Agency Protocol is continuing to hold firm and the market steadying with reduced turnover. Another session with social worker agencies is planned for January 2016, with their role in progressing the coverage of the regional Quality Record being central to the agenda.

Performance data

The region is prioritising the development of an enhanced children’s services dataset, score card, method of collection and analysis. A specialist associate will partner the region from January until June 2016 to develop and implement the new performance data set which will shape network agendas and drive improvement activity going forward.

Meetings and networks

The region’s directors are pleased to meet with the ADCS President this month. Many of the DCS attending our bi-monthly meeting were accompanied by a young person as part of National Takeover Day. The region is making the most of its younger attendees with discussions around some key issues: How can we help to make leaving care a good experience? How can we improve attainment at school for children in care? What makes a really good foster carer and how can we recruit more?

Regionalising adoption

Two of the region’s sub-regional bids were successful with both Adoption Black Country (ABC) comprised of six LAs; and the Coventry, Warwickshire and Solihull Partnership successfully securing funding. Developments are moving quickly as the partners prepare to work together on recruitment,
marketing, training and placements. There are good links with VAAs through the Regional Adoption Leadership Board which is chaired by Tony Oakman, DCS, Dudley.

Annual conference

WMADCS hosted their annual conference on Friday 13 November with some 70 senior managers from across all LAs represented, coming together around the central theme of ‘Joining Up’. With key notes from Paul Matthews (Chief Executive of Monmouthshire County Council) and Nick Whitfield (Director of Achieving for Children) as well as a host of workshops, the day was well received with a number of joint commitments to take ideas forwards in partnership.

Regional Schools Commissioner Note of Intent

A joint working agreement between the RSC and the Educational Achievement Network has been drafted to help foster a relationship of collective accountability for the outcomes of all children across the region’s schools. Now in its final draft, the Note of Intent seeks to develop links so that LAs and the RSC will develop shared priorities for each LA and across the region, that all will seek to promote in appropriate ways.

This programme is supported by IEWM. More information on any of the above can be found via the Regional Chair Karen Bradshaw, Shropshire, karen.bradshaw@shropshire.gov.uk, IEWM Children’s Programme Manager Paula Whitehouse pwhitehouse@westmidlandsiep.gov.uk and via the regional website www.wmadcs.org.uk

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