YH Region February 2016 Update

Update for the February meeting of the ADCS Council of Reference

Peer challenge

15 LA children’s services peer challenges have been completed (as at 1 January 2016). Internal and external evaluation has provided evidence of a process which makes a difference and is constantly being refined. Round 2 peer challenge has been launched. Initial requests for peer challenge include several relating to SEN arrangements.

The peer challenge training programme is a shortened version of the LGA Peer Review training programme. There are now over 60 trained peer challengers in the region as a result of a further training programme which took place in November 2015 to increase capacity and meet demand.

DfE Innovation funding has enabled the introduction of LSCB peer challenge activity in the region, building on the maturing business process for regional LA peer challenge, but with a key variation being that challenges are led by LSCB chairs rather than DCSs. Six LSCB peer challenges are planned for the period September 2015- March 2016. Four have been undertaken as at 29 January 2016.


The region built on outputs from self-assessment by developing a refreshed ‘signatures of risk’ and ‘signatures of strength’ in 2015. Also developed, was a set of critical indicators, which were trialled in the fourth annual regional self-assessment process (September 2015 – January 2016) and which will form the basis for quarterly regional reporting in 2016. All LAs completed self-assessments and a ‘challenge’ event, held on 8 January, gave an opportunity to scrutinise and challenge the reports of others as part of a broader validation exercise. A self-assessment summit in February will enable DCSs to reflect on outputs from 2015 and how these might inform regional sector-led improvement activity.

Regional data analysis

A regional database 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 on Cohort 7, and has also recruited to Cohort 4 of 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. The cohorts in 2015/16 are the largest ever, numbering 34 (SLP) and 61 (ALP) respectively. The region has developed these programmes for 2015/16, broadening their reach to Adult Services leaders (nominees make up approximately 40% of participants). The DASS regional network is now a joint sponsor of these activities, with senior Adult Services colleagues also supplementing the tutorial teams.

A systems thinking programme was commissioned in 2014/15 and has been repeated in 2015/16. Teams from four LAs were engaged in this, addressing systems issues around school improvement (three areas) and teenage pregnancy. This programme is led by the Virtual Staff College and has received highly positive evaluation.


The region is running a series of Innovation workshops for 2016 to create opportunities to celebrate and disseminate innovative local practice. These are being themed around leadership, ‘voice’, school improvement and safeguarding and are being curated by regional groups overseeing these agenda.


Strong links have been established with NHS England around the children’s mental health agenda and the region is co-producing a series of workshops in 2016 which will help to disseminate emerging practice around local Transformation Plans. There is a strong link in place to ensure coherence between sector-led improvement activity and the emerging regional mental health teams.

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