The LGA has established a reputation as a centre for children's services excellence and expertise.
We have a network of contacts with senior managers in partner organisations, central and local government, and in the voluntary and community sector.
Our goal is to support improvement and shared learning throughout local government.
LGA support offer
The LGA is making available a range of support on a free of charge and or subsidised basis to enable councils to exploit the opportunities that this new approach to improvement provides.
Councils are encouraged to consider how they might take advantage of this seven-point offer, although we do expect that the sector will take steps to enhance the way they are locally accountable. In addition, councils will continue to support each other through, for example, the use of peers. Through our offer, we will provide approaches to help councils with these objectives. We will also ensure that inspection does not creep back by keeping an overview of the performance of the sector and the wider regulatory regime.
"Councils are accountable to their local residents, not central government departments. Ultimately, they will be judged by how effectively they deliver services, rather than whether the right boxes have been ticked on a Whitehall bureaucrat's template form.
"The LGA's offer is designed to help what is already the most directly accessible and accountable level of government to become even more responsive to local residents."
Councillor Peter Fleming, Chairman of the LGA Improvement Board.
Supporting political leadership in children's services
A number of products and services are available to support elected members to effectively support and scrutinise the delivery of children's services in their local authorities.
While every effort will be made to meet all individual requests for support there will be occasions when there will be limited capacity to provide the requested level of support. In the first instance, please contact your LGA Principal Adviser in the region to discuss your specific requirements.
- The Leadership Essentials Children's Services programme is a residential development event providing an intensive introduction to the role of lead member. Sessions will focus on: political leadership in the current policy context; exploring the statutory role and key relationships; political leadership in a challenging environment through exploring a ‘real' case study of an authority's improvement journey and; leadership of the education agenda. Further details of this free of charge course, including booking instructions, can be found here
- The 'Must know' guides are a long-standing source of information and support for lead members for children's services, covering subjects including education, safeguarding, key roles and relationships and the impact of an inadequate Ofsted judgement. The full suite of guides is available here. This includes a must know covering corporate parenting
- Mentoring – The LGA can offer to source appropriate member peers with responsibility for children's services in their own authority to provide varying levels of coaching and mentoring; this could be mentoring for an existing children's lead member over a defined period, support for a newly appointed lead member or a peer to act as a ‘sounding board' to a lead member on an as required basis where performance in children's services is a potential concern. LGA will source the best fit via the Political Group Offices and the LGA Principal Adviser in the region is the first point of contact.
- Support with developing effective scrutiny of children's services and education can be accessed via the Centre for Public Scrutiny, further details of which can be found here:
A two-day leadership essentials course focusing on effective scrutiny course, aimed at new or aspiring scrutiny chairs or task-and-finish group review lead members is also available.
- Looking after other people's children is one of the most important things councils do. It is the responsibility of all councillors, not just the lead member for children's services and officers. Further information on corporate parenting can be found here
- Bespoke learning and development support offers have been developed for individual councils and councillors, covering topics including policy issues and challenges from the member perspective; political leadership and key relationships and; support for engagement in sector-led improvement. Councils interested in discussing any bespoke training and development needs are encouraged to discuss these with their principal adviser in the first instance.
- The LGA offers safeguarding peer reviews and diagnostics to underpin the LGA sector-led improvement offer and to support to assist local authorities on their improvement journey. Further information on this programme, including details of how these services can be accessed, can be found here
If you wish to discuss these offers in further detail please contact Peter Rentell, LGA Programme Manager (Children's Services) on email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The LGA offers an informal system of support for lead members who are going through an Ofsted SIF inspection. This allows the inspected lead member to get advice from, and discuss key issues with, an elected member who has already gone through the inspection process. To discuss this further, please contact Clive Harris, email@example.com
For further information on all the above support offers, including costs, please contact the relevant LGA Principal Adviser (see map below).
Accessing support: the role of the LGA Principal Advisers
Councils can access support through our regionally based Principal Advisers (PAs). PAs are the LGA's focal point for discussions with councils about their improvement needs and the support we can make available, working with existing sector owned improvement bodies at sub-national level and with colleagues supporting children's services improvement and adults/health.
Improvement in children's services
The improvement offer direct to councils includes:
- Providing nationally accredited and quality assured courses for practitioners and associates engaging in peer review, challenge or diagnostic activity and maintaining an availability register.
- Running a series of Leadership Essentials (formerly Leadership Academies) residential course for lead members.
- Developing and/or brokering, where need is evidenced, a flexible and responsive offer of bespoke diagnostic or peer review tools either to individual authorities or as part of a regional offer or as may be commissioned by DfE for authorities in intervention. These may be offered on a whole cost, subsidised or free basis.
Children's Improvement Advisers have also been appointed by the LGA to work with our Principal Advisers in each of the regions along with a prime associate with strategic overview to pull together learning from each of the regions and advise on the best support to councils.
Leadership Essentials – on the LGA website
Multi-agency inspection of child protection: A position paper from ADCS, LGA and Solace
Councils have raised concerns regarding the effectiveness and proportionality of the Ofsted Single Inspection Framework and high-profile media cases where Ofsted has failed to identify serious problems, such as in Rotherham, and where judgments have been changed following intense political and media attention, have added to these concerns. The existing Ofsted single inspection framework is overly focused on social work record keeping and process compliance and does not take account of the multi-agency approach to protecting children.
As a result of these concerns the LGA, ADCS and Solace have developed an alternative, multi-agency inspection model which learns from the failings of the current inspection regime for children's services and seeks to place children's outcomes at its centre. We are pleased that Ofsted is seeking to develop ‘short, sharp targeted multi-agency inspections' which will be piloted before the end of 2015 and hope that our alternative inspection model will help inform the debate on the shape of this new inspection framework.
Local Government Association and Solace response to Ofsted's consultation on the re-inspection of inadequate local authorities.
This interim report aims to provide a rich evidence base on the challenges and opportunities being faced by local authorities in adapting to the current challenging context, combined with practical examples and case studies of good and innovative emerging practice.
The LGA commissioned a piece of work analysing the outcomes of all Ofsted Single Inspection Framework (SIF) inspections to date, alongside a textual analysis of the key judgments set out in the inspection reports.
The LGA commissioned iMPOWER Consulting to look at the evidence to see how far the current Ofsted Single Inspection Framework is helping to drive improvement in council children's services.
Read the response to the recent Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAI) consultation.
This briefing, produced by the West Midlands Children's Improvement Board, aims to help Children's Services lead members and Scrutiny chairs by highlighting the key issues that they need to consider in children's services.
A consortium has commissioned CIPFA to undertake a sector-led project to help provide a clearer picture of children's services' costs by establishing a firm basis for comparing and recording such costs.
The 'Must knows' are a long-standing source of information and support for lead members for children's services (LMCS). The suite of information was comprehensively revised for 2015.
LGA Response to Ofsted Consultation on Integrated Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection
Ofsted and its partner inspectorates have consulted on proposals for the integrated inspections of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers and joint inspections of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.
ADCS, SOLACE and the LGA have prepared a guide to the Single Inspection Framework for local authorities.
LGA briefings on legislation currently before Parliament.
LGA media releases
Recent media releases relating to children and young people.
Sign up to our monthly Children and young people e-bulletin.
How we are working with councils, government and a range of partners to help young people back into education and employment.
Leadership Essentials – on the LGA website