Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Improving child protection by shining the light on good practice: how a number of Local Safeguarding Children Boards are showing the way

A report providing practical examples and detailed case studies of how Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) have helped to improve child protection has been published by Ofsted yesterday.

The Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards report builds on previous research into the operation of LSCBs by analysing examples of how some boards are helping to improve child protection services and keep children in their area safe.

The report gives examples of the very best practice in a range of areas, including: how LSCBs are governed, their arrangements for scrutinising the quality of their own and others agencies’ work, how they learn lessons from serious case reviews, how they ensure that training is available to all those who need it, and how they measure their own impact. These are based on evidence gathered from Ofsted’s inspections of safeguarding and looked after children services and visits to a number of local authorities to explore areas of good practice in more depth.

Welcoming the report, Miriam Rosen, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector said:

“This report provides many rich examples of how Local Safeguarding Children Boards can help to bring about improvements which ensure that the needs of children in their area are well-served. I hope all those involved in child protection will find the examples of good practice in the report helpful, and that they use it to identify areas where improvements can still be made.”

Evidence in the report shows that those LSCBs which have strong governance arrangements continually strive for improvement. This is particularly true when boards appoint independent Chairs who have experience, knowledge and credibility to hold partner agencies to account. As well as a qualified Chair, the seniority of board members has also been found to be important for ensuring that strategic plans are put into action.

To make sure board members provide strong leadership, some LSCBs are placing an emphasis on recruitment and induction processes to help members become well-briefed on their role. For example, in Milton Keynes, not only is an induction booklet provided for new lay members, but they are also ‘buddied’ with an experienced board member who supports them through their induction period.

Good practice is also found when children and young people are engaged and involved. For example, close working with Sheffield’s LSCB subgroups and young people has led to changes to the way in which licensing regulations are enforced for the sale of alcohol and control of body piercing establishments. Young people’s views were also taken into consideration in developing policies on e-safety issues in schools.

Evidence collated in the report found that strong practice is seen where LSCBs concentrate on a few clearly defined priorities which are continually reviewed and updated to meet changing needs and pressures.

The report found that is was essential that systems were in place to scrutinise and challenge performance. At Southend LSCB, for example, frontline staff participated in multi-agency reviews of child protection alongside safeguarding specialists. This provided a valuable opportunity for the staff involved to learn about and increase their understanding of child protection processes.

The report found that some LSCBs have been particularly proactive in ensuring lessons are learned from serious case reviews, where the findings from these reviews are shared with staff across all agencies. Some LSCBs went beyond the statutory requirements: for example, Norfolk and Milton Keynes LSCBs have a ‘near-miss’ review process to ensure lessons are learned where a case does not result in a serious case review being conducted, but where all agencies involved can learn something from the case.

Measuring how services are making a difference for children and their families is not always easy. However, the report found examples of boards which are beginning to find ways to quantify outcomes. In Wiltshire LSCB, for example, Barnardo’s was commissioned to provide an advocacy service for children over five, after an audit found that these children were not well enough engaged in the child protection process.  At the LSCB’s annual conference, Barnardo’s gave a presentation detailing how individual children’s lives had been transformed as a result of this activity, thereby demonstrating a measurable impact for these groups of children.

Notes to editors:

1. Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards can be found on the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk 

The Good practice by Local Safeguarding Children Boards report gathers evidence from Ofsted’s safeguarding and looked after children (SLAC) services inspections, submissions of examples of good practice by LSCBs where inspectors then either visited or carried out in depth telephone interviews, and reviewing of information about LSCBs.

The Working together to safeguard children guidance 2010, requires LSCBs to undertake reviews of serious cases when:

  • a child sustains a potentially life-threatening injury or serious and permanent impairment of physical and/or mental health and development through abuse or neglect
  • a child has been seriously harmed as a result of being subjected to sexual abuse
  • a parent has been murdered and a domestic homicide review is being initiated under the Domestic Violence Act 2004
  • a child has been seriously harmed following a violent assault perpetrated by another child or an adult
  • the case gives rise to concerns about the way in which local professionals and services worked together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes inter-agency and/or inter-disciplinary working.

LSCBs are responsible for promoting the welfare of children by ensuring that there are appropriate training and learning opportunities for people who work in services that contribute to the safety and welfare of children. This responsibility covers both the training provided by individual agencies for their own staff, and multi-agency training for staff from different agencies to train together. It includes training and learning as a result of the child death review process and SCRs. LSCBs evaluate the quality of training provision and ensure that relevant staff undertake training which is appropriate to their role.

2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

3. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 020 7421 6574 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.30pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

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