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Wed, 14 Nov 18 10:00

Yorkshire & Humber Region Update - November 2017

Work Plan

The 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

30 LA/LSCB children’s services peer challenges have been completed (as of 1 September 2017). Internal and external evaluation has provided evidence of a process which makes a difference and is constantly being refined.

Round two peer challenge is almost complete, with 14/15 LAs either having received or being about to receive a challenge and DCSs have committed to round three.

A revised business process had been endorsed which brings greater rigour to the peer challenge process:

  • Peer challenge themes will normally link to areas for development as identified in self-assessment - see below
  • Peer challenge themes will have been endorsed by the receiving LA’s CX
  • Performance manager expertise is now drafted in to analyse data pre-challenge
  • There is an expectation of an action plan post-challenge, progress against which will be monitored by the lead peer challenger
  • Peer challenge outcomes will be distributed more widely to inform regional learning.

New business processes for peer challenge have been piloted and will be applied more broadly in 2017/18, to SEND and JTAI themes in particular. These provide complementary peer challenge models, which are less resource intensive than our ‘core’ model and are proving particularly useful as a means of engaging a range of LAs in a targeted challenge activity over a short period of time.

Our peer challenge business process has informed the development of peer challenge in the North East and across the National Association of Virtual Schools Heads.

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. Demand is high, and amongst nearly 30 applicants we have successfully recruited six CCG commissioners and other health service managers.

Self-Assessment/Systems Thinking

The business process for self-assessment is strongly embedded and has been further refined for 2017 to include:

  • A more focussed self-assessment document
  • The opportunity for LAs to track their respective strengths and areas for development over a three year period
  • An expectation of CX sign-off
  • A more focussed front door self-assessment. This has been developed as a result of an LGA supported Innovation Project and in anticipation of the emphasis on self-assessment in new inspection arrangements. The result is a more future-proofed self-assessment, closely linked to regulated processes.

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 the next steps for regional collaboration informed by self-assessment outcomes.

A regional capacity index is produced as a result of self-assessment and this year we have concentrated on addressing three key issues arising from this, (outcomes for vulnerable groups; KS1/2 performance and placement supply and sufficiency), through a facilitated programme of activity for three system-wide task and finish groups, each with a designated DCS link. SLI resources have also been made available for systems groups to bid into.

Leadership Development

The region runs a well-established Senior Leaders Programme (SLP), now delivered to cohort 8. Cohort 6 has 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 remains strong for these programmes. 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 was updated for 2017 and is provided under licence by the Staff College.

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

DCSs have asked that there are programmes to support the ongoing development of past participants as well as continuing to offer further SLP/ALP programmes. Over the last three years more than 300 managers have experienced the SLP/ALP programmes, and we are devising regional activity to support their ongoing development. This will include opportunities for alumni to engage in peer challenge; support the work streams underpinning our three key themes (see above), have access to masterclass workshops and structured networking activities. As well as developing regional opportunities, LAs are being encouraged to think about how they can best capitalise on the knowledge and skills of their own leadership ‘alumni’ (sometimes over 25 managers).


Strong links have been established with NHS England around the children’s mental health agenda, with the regional children’s services SLI Coordinator, also the LA Advisor on the regional children’s mental health team (0.2 FTE), helping to secure links between LA activity and the children’s mental health agenda. This has resulted in strong LA engagement in the development of a regional mental health dataset and also in relation to the development of a mental health competency framework now being piloted in over 50 learning institutions. In 2017, a lead DCS has been identified as children’s mental health champion. Regular meetings between the DCS lead, the regional executive lead for NHS England and the LA advisor enable shared issues and opportunities to be explored.

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 and work is ongoing in the South, 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 numbers 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.

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