Yorkshire and Humber Region Update - September 2017

Work Plan

A 2017/18 regional work plan for SLI emphasises:

  • Continued commitment to and investment in sector-led improvement
  • Greater rigour and accountability
  • Greater join up of regional processes, systems and structures
  • Focus on a few key regional issues in depth.

A wide range of activities continue to be commissioned:

Peer Challenge

  • 31 LA/LSCB children’s services peer challenges have been completed (as at 1 August 2017). These use a business process which involves a team of four, led by a DCS, spending three days in total in an LA, focussing on a theme identified by the receiving LA (but scoped in partnership with the lead DCS) and then producing a presentation and letter describing strengths and areas for consideration. Internal and external evaluation has provided evidence of a process which makes a difference and is constantly being refined. Round 2 peer challenge is almost complete (12/15) and we are anticipating that nearly all LAs will have had two peer challenges by the end of 2017/18 and about three or four will have had three
  • A revised business process for peer challenge has brought even greater rigour to the process. Enhanced features include: peer challenge themes will normally be expected to link to areas for development as identified in self-assessment; performance manager expertise drafted in to analyse data pre-challenge; expectation of an action plan post challenge, progress against which will be monitored by the lead peer challenger and wider distribution of peer challenge outcomes to inform regional learning
  • Our peer challenge business process has informed the development of peer challenge in the North East and across the National Association of Virtual School Heads
  • Alternative business processes for peer challenge have been piloted. These are less resource intensive than our core peer challenge model and can enable several LAs to be challenged concurrently. They include self-assessment, analysis by another LA and a challenge event. These have been used in relation to JTAI themes and are being developed for SEND (Note: these processes are intended to complement, rather than replace the well-established regional peer challenge model as described above)
  • The peer challenge training programme is a shortened version of the LGA Peer Review training programme. A further programme is planned in February 2018 which will concentrate on broadening our peer challenger base (70 challengers) to include a wider range of partners and technical expertise.


The business process for self-assessment is strongly embedded and was further refined for 2016/17 to include a shortened self-assessment document and the opportunity for LAs to track their respective strengths and areas for development over a three-year period. (Feedback on these developments has been very positive). DCSs have confirmed their commitment to repeating this process for 2017/18.

A regional capacity Index has been produced as a result of self-assessment and in 2017/18 we will concentrate on addressing three key issues arising from this, (outcomes for vulnerable groups; KS1/2 performance; and, placement supply and sufficiency) through system wide task and finish groups, each with a designated DCS link.

Self-assessment submissions are made in November, a Challenge event is held in January to enable the validation of submissions and a summit event in March will help us reflect on next steps for regional collaboration informed by self-assessment outcomes.

Regional Data Analysis

A regional dataset is maintained by Sheffield City Council, which brings together information from education and social care datasets and has produced customised data for the region on the achievement of children in care. This informs annual self-assessment processes.

Leadership Development

The region runs a well-established Senior Leaders Programme (SLP), now completed with Cohort 8. Cohort 6 hs just completed the Aspirant Leaders Programme (ALP). These programmes are designed and delivered in-region, but take account of the leadership constructs and ideas shared on previous and current national programmes. Senior managers are utilised as tutors and the programmes are directed by the SLI coordinator. Demand has now stabilised for these programmes (after a spike in 2016). There were approximately 25 participants on the SLP and 45 on the ALP including colleagues from adult services. Participants access an online 360-degree appraisal, which has been updated for 2017 and is provided under licence by the Staff College.

These programmes were externally evaluated in 2015/16 and the conclusions, which mirrored internal evaluation, indicate high levels of impact on leadership practice.

DCSs are interested in seeing programmes to support the ongoing development of past participants as well as continuing to offer further SLP/ALP programmes. A menu of alumni opportunities, informed by feedback from previous participants, is being considered by DCSs before activity is commissioned.

A systems thinking programme was commissioned in 2014/15, repeated in 2015/16 and is running again in 2017. Four LAs are engaged in this, addressing locally identified systems issues. This programme is led by the Staff College and has received highly positive evaluation.

Three Key Themes

The three key issues for the region, as identified through self-assessment, are being tackled through a systems wide approach. We have brought together colleagues from a range of regional groups to work across group structures to scope and address these themes within a framework of several systems workshops which we have commissioned the Staff College to facilitate. Participants will be exposed to systems approaches and systems thinking and apply that theory and practice to the respective themes.


Strong links have been established with NHS England around the children’s mental health agenda, with the regional children’s services SLI Coordinator also a member of the regional children’s mental health team (0.2 FTE). In 2017, a lead DCS has been identified as children’s mental health champion.

Regionalisation of Adoption

Work continues in Yorkshire and Humber on the regionalisation of adoption to deliver the planned hub and spoke model. The central hub has been established. Of the three proposed sub-regional adoption agencies, West is now live, work is ongoing in the South and in the North and East.

Children Social Work Matters (CSWM)

The web-based CSWM continues to develop to promote social work in the region. Hits on the public site continue to increase. The number of actively engaged children’s social workers and managers in the learning portal site is also growing. Webinars continue to be popular as is the daily news feed and LA news pages. Social workers in the region can now download the CSWM app to their phones. A second festival of social work conference will take place in November 2017 providing an opportunity for practitioners across the region to engage in practice and knowledge exchange. Proposals are being considered to promote the site and profession even further by: aligning the CSWM website with the Teaching Partnerships; developing a Y&H foster carers on-line training and knowledge portal, as part of a recruitment and retention strategy for LA foster carers in the region; and, social workers using CSWM to record their CPD.

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