Local Government Association Children’s Services Remote Peer Diagnostic

This guidance is applicable for all children’s services remote peer diagnostics including those that cover early years, safeguarding and SEND. Whilst the focus of each of these types of diagnostic remains as it is set out in the peer challenge manuals; it is envisaged that the impact of COVID 19 will be a key theme, but this will be discussed during the scoping phase.


Introduction

This summary provides an overview of the Children’s Services Remote Peer Diagnostic. The diagnostic has been developed in response to the restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The diagnostic has been piloted in three local authorities but still draws from the experience and learning from over 150 children services focused reviews and challenges.

This guidance is applicable for all children’s services remote peer diagnostics including those that cover early years, safeguarding and SEND. Whilst the focus of each of these types of diagnostic remains as it is set out in the peer challenge manuals; it is envisaged that the impact of COVID 19 will be a key theme, but this will be discussed during the scoping phase.

The peer diagnostic team

The LGA pulls together a team to deliver the remote peer diagnostic, based on the targeted scope and key lines of enquiry identified during the development phase. Typically, the team will include the following:

  • Lead – DCS or AD equivalent
  • 2 or 3 operational managers
  • A peer challenge manager
  • 2 case auditors (if applicable)

The council responsibilities

The host council will need to identify a sponsor and an organiser for the peer diagnostic. The sponsor should be the Director of Children’s Services or equivalent. The role of the sponsor is to commission the remote peer diagnostic, ensure there is high level commitment and involvement from staff and partners and agree the scope and themes for the peer challenge with the LGA.  They will also need to secure the endorsement of the Lead member and Chief Executive. 

The role of the council organiser is to be the ‘single point of contact’ for the LGA and the peer team.  Using an online platform (most commonly Microsoft Teams or Zoom) proposed by the Council, the organiser will help populate the agreed timetable by arranging the interviews and focus groups between the peers and relevant members of staff, partners and members.    

Confidentiality, data protection and personal data

The LGA Manager will issue all members of the peer team with a Peer Team Briefing in advance of the peer challenge, which provides more detail on the expectations around confidentiality and data protection.  This will be updated to reflect the diagnostic being undertaken remotely.  

The Council may also request that the peer team sign a confidentiality agreement as they may have access to sensitive information and potentially child level data. 

Set-up and scoping stage

The LGA will arrange a virtual meeting with key people in the Council inlcuding the diagnostic sponsor (DCS). Delivering these diagnostics remotely does not allow the peer team to cover the same amount of ground as if they were onsite. Because of this, the diagnostic will need to focus on a specific part of children’s services and is likely to involve the response to COVID-19.   

The meeting will determine whether a peer diagnostic is the most suitable LGA support tool, consider the focus and key lines of enquiry, discuss peer team requirements, and share any necessary background information.

Remote Peer Diagnostic preparation

During this stage the council and LGA Manager must liaise closely and ensure that the following are prepared and supplied to the peer team in line with the agreed timescales:

  • Concise list of key documentation
  • Timetable developed (Timetable guidance and template)

Case record review

If it is identified that a case record review is appropriate for the diagnostic, this will take place approximately two weeks ahead of the delivery phase. The cases will be selected by the LGA Manager/Lead Peer from lists agreed as part of scoping discussions. The Council will need to propose the mechanism for sharing cases.  Where appropriate the reviewers may need to contact the lead practitioner or manager responsible for the case selected. The output of the case review will be a brief report to share with the peer team and the Council. Where possible a member of the case review team will continue to the delivery phase. 

Delivery phase

Unlike the traditional peer challenge in which the work is undertaken intensively over four or five days; the delivery phase for the remote peer diagnostic will be spread over seven days.  The keys stages of the delivery phase are:

Day
Week

Activity Description

Mon
Week 1

Council overview presentation A virtual meeting between the peer team, the council and any partner representatives during which the council may wish to present a short overview presentation which should last no more than 20 minutes. The remainder of the discussion should then focus on any final fine tuning of scope and focus and sharing of recent developments that the peer team need to be aware of. 

Mon - Fri
Week 1

Interviews and focus groups. This will form the main activity for the delivery phase. The timetable template includes a list of people and key staff groups who should be considered for interview; this list will be discussed and agreed between the council’s organiser and the LGA Manager to ensure those relevant to the key lines of enquiry are included.

Mon - Fri
Week 1

Regular Keeping in Touch meeting with the project sponsor The council sponsor will be provided with regular feedback on the key issues emerging throughout the delivery phase. The lead peer and LGA Manager should also give the sponsor a good understanding of what will be presented at the final presentation.

Mon - Fri
Week 1

Regular peer team meetings Behind the scenes the peer team will be meeting virtually on a regular basis to share their findings, to triangulate their evidence and to develop their recommendations.  This will be led by the lead peer.
     

Mon
Week 2

Drawing together final presentation The peer team will finalise their findings and develop the presentation that will be given to the Council.  This will follow an agreed LGA format, covering strengths, areas for consideration and recommendations for improvement.

Tue
Week 2

Virtual feedback meeting The final phase of the delivery stage will be a feedback presentation by the peer team, led by the lead peer, to the council and its partners.
Within 1 month of virtual feedback meeting Written feedback Following the delivery stage, the LGA will produce either a report or a set of slides, dependent on the nature of the diagnostic and the Council’s requirements

 

Evaluation

As part of the LGA’s quality assurance framework the team will be in touch to discuss the effectiveness and impact of the diagnostic and any further support we can offer.