Children's services improvement

LGA’s children’s services improvement offer covers a wide range of support.

The LGA is making available a range of support on a free of charge and or subsidised basis to councils, who are encouraged to consider how they might take advantage of this offer.

Improvement in children's services

LGA’s children’s services 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 courses 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 the Department for Education 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.

Children's Services Peer Challenges

The LGA offers safeguarding peer challenges and diagnostics to underpin the LGA sector-led improvement offer and to support to assist local authorities on their improvement journey. If you wish to discuss these offers in further detail please contact Richard Cooke, LGA Programme Manager (Children's Services) at

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.

For further information on all the below, including bespoke arrangements, please contact your LGA Principal Adviser. 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.

Training and mentoring

  • LGA’s Leadership Essentials Children's Services programme provides an intensive introduction to the role of lead member. Sessions 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.
  • 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

Guides and other resources for councillors

  • LGA’s '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 Centre for Public Scrutiny, in conjunction with the LGA, has developed a short guide that seeks to support those involved in developing and scrutinising Alternative Delivery Models (ADMs) in children’s services to consider the key issues and early experiences.
  • Corporate parenting resource pack: looking after other people's children is one of the most important things councils do, and is the responsibility of all councillors, not just the lead member for children's services and officers.


Multi-agency inspection of child protection: A position paper from ADCS, LGA and Solace

As a result of concerns regarding the effectiveness and proportionality of the Ofsted Single Inspection Framework, the LGA, ADCS and Solace 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.

Download the paper

Some of these concerns were subsequently taken on board by Ofsted in the development of the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services framework (ILACS), which has resulted in the inspectorate taking a more proportionate approach. ADCS has produced an ILACS resource pack, which is available on their website.

LGA's Children's Services Improvement Action Research

These two reports are intended to complement one another: taken together, they attempt to describe how local areas can drive and sustain improvement and how they can best use external improvement support to help them during their improvement journey.

1.  Action research into improvement in local children's services

The first project, undertaken by the ISOS Partnership and commissioned by the LGA, sought to answer two central questions:

a. What are the key enablers of (and barriers to) improvement in local children’s services?

b. How can the system as a whole facilitate and support improvement in local children’s services?

Download the final report

Download the practical implications for lead members and senior leaders

2. Enabling improvement 

The second report explores the following two questions:

a. What is the role of improvement support and how can it be effective in supporting the improvement journey of a local area’s children’s services?

b. What are the relative strengths and key ingredients of different models of improvement, and what are the circumstances in which each model is most likely to be effective? 

Download the final report

Useful links