North West Regional Update - December 2019

The North West Regional Update

Quality Assurance: Practice and Principles

Following our first Quality Assurance Summit delivered in partnership with Ofsted earlier this year, we are developing a range of resources to support local authorities and their partners to maintain and improve their approach to QA in children’s social care. We agree that effective quality assurance has become an increasingly important measure of a local authority’s ability to evidence the impact of services for children and families. There are many different approaches across the region in how leaders secure this assurance, and this has informed our ‘practice and principles’ resource to summarise some of the measures most utilised by authorities. Drawing on good local practice and input from the inspectorate, the resource highlights the following:

• The central role of audit, including innovative ways of understanding the quality and consistency of practice

• The use of practice weeks to create opportunities for senior leaders to observe practice and make links between strategy and practice on the frontline

• Effective communication of the findings of QA activity helping to embed learning and encourage ownership

• Explicit links between training and development and QA to support wider culture change, and determine the impact

• The importance of the role of leaders in QA activity at all levels across partnerships.

We are further developing this workstream through an appraisal of externally commissioned QA activity and the commissioning of a ‘challenge toolkit’ to support targeted sector-led scrutiny. For more details or a copy of the NWADCS Quality Assurance: practice and principles resource, please contact Samantha Sirisambhand, Policy and Performance Manager, NWADCS at

Peer Challenge for Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) Local Areas

SEND peer challenges are an opportunity for local areas to understand whether they are achieving the best outcomes for children and young people with SEND by reflecting on their progress, in the implementation and embedding of SEND reforms in order to support improvement. Based on a methodology co-produced with parent/carer representatives, the flexible approach to peer scrutiny will, in some cases, aim to support readiness for SEND local area inspections or re-visits. In others it will support the post inspection review of continuous improvement and progress in relation to SEND. While a core model of two days on site will be the norm, there are also opportunities for a differentiated approach e.g. a desk top review of the local area SEND self-evaluation - ‘readiness check’ for re-visit. Piloted in two areas (one awaiting inspection, one awaiting revisit), a final process has been agreed and training for peers took place on 29 November. Ultimately the aim is to achieve better outcomes for children and young people experiencing SEND across the North West.

For a copy of the North West SEND Peer Challenge toolkit or details of our training approach, please contact Paul Bunker, Head of Children’s Sector Led Improvement, NWADCS at

Children Educated Out of School

In response to the recently reviewed elective home education guidance, the Timpson Review of exclusions and our own data analysis, we have embarked on a coordinated programme of activity to review our practice and systems for children educated outside of school settings. Whilst still in its initial stages, we have engaged with Ofsted’s unregulated schools team as well as relevant local partners to identify a series of priority areas and inform the initial development of a ‘children educated out of school: practice and principles resource’. We have identified the following workstreams to be addressed:

• Identification including definitions and data sharing

• Oversight and monitoring

• Suitability including intervention and enforcement

• Safeguarding

• Specific groups including looked after children, children with SEND, and gypsy/Roma/traveller children

• Understanding exclusion particularly the use of ‘nurture’ or ‘inclusion’ units.

We are keen to engage with other regions in this area and happy to share our forming work. If you are interested in working collaboratively across regions, please contact Paul Bunker,

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