Practice Review Policy and Toolkit
This policy provides the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership with guidance for undertaking statutory and non-statutory reviews. It should be read alongside the relevant statutory guidance set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel guidance for safeguarding partners.
This policy should be used to support partners to choose the most appropriate methodology for each individual learning opportunity.
Practice Review Policy and Toolkit
1 – Key Principles
The purpose of the policy is to enable the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership and agencies to select the appropriate learning methodology to ensure that the Partnership:
- Learns from reviews and audits to continuously improve;
- Has a planned approach in scrutinising and challenging the quality and effectiveness of their services through self-assessment;
- Has business plans that are informed by need identified by national and local safeguarding data and information;
- Takes a proactive approach to seeking out evidence of good practice, even when there are improvements to be made in the broader multi-agency work around a family.
All learning reviews should be conducted in a way which:
- Explores how practice can be improved through changes to the system itself.
- Recognises the complex circumstances in which professionals work together to safeguard children/families;
- Recognises good practice even when there are also areas for improvement;
- Seeks to understand the underlying reasons that led individuals and organisations to act as they did;
- Seeks to understand practice from the viewpoint of the individuals and organisations involved at the time;
- Is transparent about the way data/information is collected and analysed;
- Makes use of relevant research and case evidence to inform the findings;
- Does not prejudice any criminal or care proceedings which may be ongoing. This may mean delays to some aspects of reviews if they are in the public domain.
- Results in SMART actions for the system to address the learning identified
- Evaluates actions undertaken to address learning identified, with a view to seeking measurable evidence of sustainable change
The work of the Somerset Safeguarding Children Partnership is informed by national and local safeguarding aims and objectives, research and analysis. It is underpinned by ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’. Key principles of the guidance include:
- Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe. No single practitioner can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.
- A child-centred approach is fundamental to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of every child.
Involvement of families:
Families should be involved wherever possible in informing statutory and non-statutory reviews with their views and perspectives. There may be situations where it is not appropriate to involve a family in a review, for instance when it could prejudice a criminal investigation. Guidance from the National Panel advises that there is no expectation to involve families in rapid reviews, which is normally not feasible or appropriate within the timescales. Decisions about involving families in reviews should be made on a case-by-case basis.
Effective learning reviews rely on all partners sharing relevant information about the child or family involved. The SSCP will request information from partners to support statutory and non-statutory learning reviews and will escalate concerns if information is withheld without good reason. All agencies are expected to share relevant information within the timescales requested. This may include information sharing without the consent of individuals involved.
Please refer to the SSCP Information Sharing Agreement between agencies in the partnership.
2 – Requesting a review
Case for Consideration:
A Case for Consideration form should be used to highlight opportunities for multi-agency learning to the SSCP. The form should include how the children’s safeguarding system has worked in relation to this case and any wider system learning. This form can also be used to notify of examples of good multi-agency practice.
Useful links for understanding the Case for Consideration process:
Case for Consideration Template
3 – Statutory review process
Serious Incident Notification:
Working Together defines the criteria for a serious child safeguarding case as one in which abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected and the child has died or been seriously harmed. Serious harm includes (but is not limited to) serious and/or long-term impairment of a child’s mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It should also cover impairment of physical health. Consideration must be given to whether impairment is likely to be long-term, and whether the abuse or neglect, at least in some way, caused or contributed to the death or serious harm. The duty to notify serious incidents to the Panel sits with local authorities. All notifications are also made available to the Department for Education and Ofsted.
Safeguarding partners are required to promptly undertake a rapid review on all notified serious incidents. The SSCP Learning and Improvement subgroup is made up of representatives from key partners and will undertake a Rapid Review. This will include overseeing the implementation of the learning from any reviews. A Rapid Review is completed within 15 working days. Agencies will be advised of the reasons for and scope of the Rapid Review, and the key lines of enquiry. There will be a clear timescale given for agencies to respond. Agencies will be asked to:
- Identify good practice;
- Summarise their agency involvement
- Analyse single and multi-agency practice to identify areas for improvement
Learning will be drawn together by the Rapid Review Panel to create SMART actions for the SSCP Action Plan.
Useful links for understanding the Rapid Review process:
Case for Consideration template
Rapid Review Panel Meeting Agenda Template
Rapid Review Report Template
Key Event Chronology template for statutory or non-statutory reviews
Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review (LCSPR):
The Partnership must decide whether a LCSPR needs to be undertaken following the completion of a Rapid Review. When considering this, partners must be clear about what value a LCSPR would add to a good quality rapid review. The Rapid Review should set out a clear rationale for completing a LCSPR, including what questions the LCSPR should seek to answer.
The overall purpose of a LCSPR should be to identify improvements to practice and wider systems. Just because an incident meets the criteria for notification, there is no automatic expectation to carry out a LCSPR.
Guidance in Working Together includes that reviews should seek to prevent or reduce the risk of recurrence of similar incidents. They are not conducted to hold individuals, organisations or agencies to account.
When considering a LCSPR, partners must consider whether the incident:
- Highlights or may highlight improvements needed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
- Highlights recurrent themes in the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children
- Highlights concerns regarding two or more organisations working together effectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
Any decision to undertake a further review of the case should be carried out as a LCSPR. A LCSPR will be completed within 6 months.
The SSCP Statutory review process may also inform other statutory review processes, such as a Safeguarding Adult Review or Domestic Homicide Review.
Useful links for understanding the LCSPR process:
Local Child Safeguarding Review Process
4 – Non-Statutory review process
If the SSCP deem that there is key learning to be elicited, as a result of submission of a Case for Consideration form, but the criteria for a Rapid Review has not been met, then the Partnership may conduct a non-statutory learning review. A partner or group of partners will act as the lead author(s) and report the findings to the Learning and Improvement subgroup.
Partners may also nominate a good example of practice for non-statutory learning review.
The SSCP business unit will co-ordinate information gathering for a non-statutory review by sending out requests to relevant agencies. Agencies will be advised of the reasons for and scope of the review, and the key lines of enquiry. There will be a clear timescale given for agencies to respond.
Agencies will be asked to:
- Identify good practice;
- Summarise their agency involvement;
- Analyse single and multi-agency practice to identify areas for improvement.
The Learning Review Outcome Form should be used to record the outcome of any learning review, irrespective of which methodology is used. These should be written as succinctly as possible, taking a strengths-based approach and written in a way that all agencies can understand. Any actions should be SMART, with a focus on the multi-agency learning and recommendations that ensure timely implementation of learning and measurable outcomes. It is good practice to draw on the findings of other learning reviews, research and Local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews.
The Lead Author should attend the Learning and Improvement Subgroup, with their final report circulated beforehand. They should present their proposed actions and any other key areas for consideration, for the partnership to discuss and agree.
5 – Methodology Framework
Methodologies which include an SSCP Information Gathering exercise – methodologies A – D
Methodologies which will not include an SSCP Information Gathering exercise – methodologies E – F
Methodologies which include an SSCP Information Gathering exercise
Information Gathering Exercise: The SSCP Business Unit will send an information gathering form to relevant involved agencies. After the Information Gathering exercise is completed; consider the following methodology options for effectively eliciting learning:
Methodologies which will not include an SSCP Information Gathering exercise
6 – Action planning, dissemination of learning and publication
Overseeing the progress of and evaluating the impact of actions arising from a statutory or non-statutory review is the responsibility of the Learning and Improvement subgroup.
The SSCP will decide how to share non-statutory reviews on a case-by-case basis.
LCSPRs will be published by the SSCP unless it would prejudice a criminal investigation. Rapid Reviews are not published, and the SSCP will ensure that key messages and identified learning themes are disseminated across the partnership.
Some of the ways in which individual agencies or the partnership may implement the learning to improve outcomes for children and young people include:
- Learning bulletins
- Measure impact of implementing learning
- Workforce development strategies – Training and development plans, supervision policy, recruitment, induction and performance management arrangements
- Single and multi-agency training events
- Opportunities for workplace shadowing
- Individual and group supervision
- Review of policies and guidance for staff
- Awareness campaigns using social media
- Multi-agency practitioner information groups
- Consultation or co-production with service user groups.
7 – Scrutiny
The Action Plan Verification Form is a quality assurance tool designed to assist in ensuring that multi-agency and single agency recommendations and actions, arising from a statutory or non-statutory reviews, have been addressed, the learning has been embedded in practice, and impact has been evaluated.
The following form should be used as scrutiny to evaluate the impact of action plans:
Action Plan Verification Form
Partnership Assurance Report