The DCS, CIB and wider Children’s Leadership (via the Leadership Summit on March 16th 2016) have between them agreed the requirements of the 2016-17 Improvement Plan, which is presently in development.

The following three key priorities have been identified for development and action in 2016/17 and will be signed off by the ADCS group and CIB:

1. Quality of Practice

2. Quality of Leadership and Governance

3. Further development of the SLI Model (and products)

We will publish the Improvement Plan 2016-2017 once finalised. In the meantime, please see the West Midlands ADCS Improvement Plan 2015-2016 below.


West Midlands ADCS Improvement Plan 2015-2016

1. Introduction

This Improvement Plan focusses on how we cchild drawingan collaborate as a region to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. It has been developed  jointly by  West Midlands ADCS (WMADCS) and Children’s Improvement Board (CIB), and was agreed on 20 March 2015. Within the West Midlands there is an increasing recognition that the improvement of children’s services performance in the region is a collective responsibility and there are key areas where there are benefits in working together to support improvement.

It is crucial that we work together to share learning and experience of what works to improve both efficiency and quality at a time of reducing resources and capacity but increasing demand. As part of this, the region will also work to achieve economies of scale through regional and sub regional commissioning and re-design.

WMADCS and the CIB will oversee the delivery of the Plan. Key principles for sector led improvement  work continue to underpin our improvement and development work:

  • Councils are responsible for their own improvement; collectively they are responsible for the effectiveness of the sector as a whole; and they are accountable, first and foremost, to their communities;
  • Leaders, Lead Members, Chief Executives, Directors of Children’s Services and Local Safeguarding Children Board Chairs all need to own, advocate and drive sector led improvement into day-to-day practice so that it becomes integral to the day job;
  • Such collective leadership needs to be based on mutual trust and respect borne of commitments to transparency and professional honesty about performance and improvement successes and challenges;
  • It is important in any model to recognise the full spectrum of performance: those that are excellent and good; those needing early sector support; and those needing targeted sector support. There will be differentials in terms of performance trajectory and capacity to improve;
  • It is recognised that sector led improvement in children’s services needs to link to adult, family and corporate sector led improvement agendas.

2. Successes of the Last Year

2014-2015 was an immensely fruitful year in terms of regional activity.  A number of the key priorities were addressed robustly as follows:

  • Embedding our approach to Sector Led Improvement through Self Assessments and the Peer Challenge Process.
  • Re-establishing a number of functional networks to drive forward programmes of activity; including the Principal Social Worker Network, Social Care Assistant Directors and the Workforce Network.
  • Developing a suite of agreed performance information as per the diagram below (diagram below) and enhancing our approach to benchmarking for roll out in 2015-2016.
  • Launching a Protocol to take control of our growing need for high quality Social Work Agency Staff, within the constraints of our budgets.



3. Where Next with Sector Led Improvement

Sector Led Improvement has continued to develop in the West Midlands in 2014-2015.  We have established a number of approaches which are now embedded as mainstream practice. We want to use 2015-2016 to continue to develop our approach, while acknowledging that our previous efforts are becoming business as usual.  We also seek to become more agile and responsive to the needs of the sector to be able to respond to requests in a way that does not add significant burden in times of constrained resources.


Our Annual Peer Challenge event and the Self-Assessment process that leads to it is well established as are arrangements for bespoke projects such as the Audit the Auditors Programme.   Our process for delivering support to identified authorities is being strengthened through a protocol which will be launched shortly, which will provide the basis for decision making when early concerns are flagged to the Children’s Improvement Board.  The next challenge for us is to move our Sector Led Improvement into Systems Led Improvement, and to do this we will need to engage key stakeholders in our journey.


We have made significant inroads to the availability of performance information over 2014-2015, and the first regional Children’s Services Scorecard will be published imminently.  We continue to prepare the 6 monthly datapack, and this will feed into the annual Performance of the Region report, and an associated annual summit planned for Summer 2015.

4. Our Priorities for Improvement

Our improvement priorities for 2015/2016 have been identified from a number of sources including the peer challenge of all 14 local authorities self-assessments,  peer challenge and support activity across a range of areas including auditing, the development and analysis of the regional performance dataset, and priorities identified by relevant regional Networks, including a joint event with DCSs, Lead Members and Scrutiny chairs.


They are grouped under the following strategic priorities:


P1. Effective Safeguarding

P2. Child Sexual Exploitation

P3. Better outcomes for looked after children, care leavers and adoption

P4. Early Help for Stronger Families

P5. Educational Achievement

P6. Embedding the SEND reforms


And the following enablers


E1: Systems Leadership

E2: Peer Challenge & Support

E3: Performance management and quality assurance

E4: Workforce Development

E5: Effective commissioning arrangements

E6: Shared learning of evidence informed practice

5. Detail of Our Priorities can be found here

6. WM ADCS Regional Meetings: ways of working

  • All 14 Directors of Children’s Services or equivalent will attend the regional meetings
  • The network shall seek to engage key partners and stakeholders as required to progress issues. This could include: Health, Police, and national organisations such as the Department of Education, Ofsted, and Local Government Association.
  • The network will structure meetings around the following headings:
    • Progress on our priority areas
    • Round the Region
    • Hot topics, and matters arising, including a standing item on Sector Led Improvement
  • Directors take a leadership role in determining priorities for the group and for associated networks and task and finish groups; which are expected to be accountable to the network for their activity and ongoing operation.
  • DCSs will become champions for specific topics and themes. They will lead activity and report back to the Network as appropriate. They will also champion associated projects.
  • The Network will ensure appropriate representation, input and dissemination with the National ADCS Association.
  • The network will be able to agree recommendations for spend against the identified Children’s Services Budget for IEWM Board approval. It will carry out programme management functions as appropriate.
  • A DCS Chair and Vice Chair will be nominated on an annual basis (commencing April of each year); the Vice Chair will take up the Chair’s role the following year.
  • The Network will meet every 2 months and dates will be set in advance. Meetings will take place in central Birmingham, and will last all day where practicable.
  • IEWM will be the delivery partner of the action plan

8. WM Children’s Improvement Board: ways of working



  • 2 representatives from each of the Regional Chief Executives, LSCB Chairs and Lead Members of Children’s Services, and WMADCS Networks will be invited, along with the West Midlands LGA Principal Advisor and Children’s Improvement Advisor, although all Directors of Children’s Services can attend as they see fit.
  • Members take a leadership role in determining priorities for the group and for any working groups.
  • A Chair and Vice Chair will be nominated on an annual basis (commencing April of each year); the Vice Chair will take up the Chair’s role the following year.
  • The Network will meet every quarter and dates will be set in advance. Meetings will take place in central Birmingham.
  • IEWM will be the delivery partner of the action plan.

9. Resourcing the plan
£380,000 is available to deliver the Improvement Plan for 2015-16. Funds for the regional Children’s Programme are held by IEWM, with WM ADCS acting as governors for those funds. Priorities will be agreed in the context of the overall funds and capacity available within the overall programme. As implementation progresses, WM ADCS will need to make funding decisions based on project requests.

Implementation will be led by the Children’s Programme Manager. Programme staff, including a proposed contract through the IEWM Associate framework to support sector led improvement, and a dedicated Commissioning Manager will provide a resource to drive and deliver many elements of the programme, together with regional capacity – particularly through the Networks and the Regional Capacity Builders Programme. The Children’s Programme Manager will draw on support from IEWM to ensure effective event management and communications, including through appropriate website(s) for Children’s Services (primarily Further capacity may be secured through the IEWM Associate Framework as required.

The budget on the following page shows what is currently available for 2015-16 to deliver the Improvement Plan. IEWM is looking at options to sustain the overall IEWM Programme (including the Children’s Programme) beyond March 2017 and will be taking action and consulting with the sector as the year progresses

In considering future resource, WM ADCS will wish to consider what it values in terms of regional resource and capacity – e.g. delivering the regional work programme, facilitating the Networks, providing capacity to support the delivery of sector led improvement.

9. Evaluating the impact of the Improvement Plan

Evidence of improvement over the year will be measured through a combination of a sub-set of most relevant indicators from the regional Dataset, together with some softer qualitative measures. The Action Plan attached identiifies these.


We will also seek measurable improvements to LAs though the annual Peer Challenge Process and the quarterly data benchmarking.


A mid year review will take place in October.


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