South West Regional Update September 2019

South West Regional Summer Summit - Building Regional Improvement Capacity and Improving Practice Leadership

This year’s summer summit included a range of workshops enabling South West local authorities to share an example of their good practice:

  • Bath and North East Somerset: Improved responses to adolescent risks by the establishment of a specialist service - Adolescent at Risk Service – ART.
  • Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: Learning from Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole: what has worked to reduce NEETs & Not Knowns.
  • Bristol: Strengthening families and reducing our children in care population.
  • Cornwall: Meeting the new challenges for corporate parenting guidance and extended duty for care leavers.
  • Dorset: Using business intelligence to develop and deliver our early help offer.
  • Gloucestershire: How ambassadors make a difference to services in Gloucestershire.
  • North Somerset: Bright Spots survey - delivering on what’s important to our children and young people.
  • Plymouth: Implementing the national post-qualifying standards and using NAAS as a vehicle for practice improvement.
  • Somerset: Working with partners in child exploitation.
  • South Gloucestershire: Deep dive quality assurance – achieving consistently good QA.
  • Swindon: Approach to working with alcohol dependent parents.
  • Torbay: Developments in the front door – how the partnership response is supporting a turnaround in troubled families work.
  • Wiltshire: SEND service developments – improving outcomes for children and young people.

The summit also launched the new Regional Leadership Development Programme specifically aimed at those reporting to assistant directors of children’s services. Nearly 70 people attended the summit from the region’s 14 local authorities. Feedback from participants was very positive.

Regional Leadership Development Programme

The Staff College will be delivering, with partners, a leadership development programme for aspirant assistant directors in the South West region. The aim of the programme is to improve the strategic leadership skills of up to fifty managers who are the direct reports to assistant directors in each of the region’s 15 local authorities. The programme, which will commence in October 2019, will include some ‘coaching and mentoring’ elements in addition to the learning events.

Self-Assessment Peer Challenge

The date for the self-assessment peer challenge will be Friday 6 December 2019. The self-assessment framework has been reviewed with an additional self-assessment on ‘risk factors’ included. All local authorities are participating – the date for completed submissions is 12 October 2019.

Strategic Children’s Sector-Led Improvement Group – RIA Board

The strategic group, which has representation from the region’s chief executives, lead members, directors of children’s services and the LGA, has now become the Regional Improvement and Innovation Alliance Board.

A leadership summit bringing together the chief executives, lead members and directors of children’s services from all of the regions’ local authorities is planned for 12 March 2020. The leadership summit will review progress of the alliance and agree plans for 2021 and beyond.

Thematic Peer Challenge Programme for 2019/20

The programme for the coming year gives local authorities the option to choose the focus for their challenge from the themes that Ofsted use for focussed visits and JTAIs. The plan is for all local authorities to participate with the exception of those judged inadequate by Ofsted. There will be a peer challenge preparation workshop on 7 November 2019 in Taunton – all local authorities have a place for their peer challenge lead.

Workforce Development – Frontline Regional Partnership

The first cohort of South West Frontline participants has now completed a five-week programme of learning, a readiness to practice portfolio and a law exam. The participants are now ready to begin their two-year journey with their local authorities, starting on Monday 2 September. There are 45 participants in 12 units across eight local authorities in the South West. In addition,12 consultant social workers have been recruited to support the participants with their learning. Frontline has received much positive feedback about the quality of the candidates across the region applying for the CSW posts.

Commissioning Group Project

The regional commissioning group has developed a project, led by Bath and North East Somerset, to gather intelligence through a ‘market position statement’ on the sufficiency of in-house fostering placements in all of the South West local authorities. The project has gained some external funding from the LGA. It is planned that the ‘market position’ will be presented to representatives from all local authorities at a regional meeting in the autumn.


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