The LGA’s sector-led improvement offer has helped support improvements to local leadership of children’s services in England.
In 2018, the LGA received funding from the Department for Education to deliver a two-year programme of support aimed at improving children’s services through targeting political and corporate leadership.
The development of the children’s sector-led improvement (SLI) programme was based on the principles of the LGA’s SLI offer (see left) and used its already established framework for this kind of work with councils.
The programme consists of three support strands: support for lead members; intensive support for, predominantly, local authorities that have received an Ofsted judgement of ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’; and children’s services peer challenges.
The LGA’s approach is based on the principle that peer processes – harnessing the skills, expertise and experience that exists within the local government sector – can play a significant role in enabling long-term improvement.
“The relationships between children’s improvement advisers and councils are highly valued”
As part of the LGA’s ambition to improve its offer, it commissioned an independent report, conducted by Shared Intelligence, to evaluate its sector-led improvement programme for children’s services.
The report found that, between April 2018 and March 2020, the LGA’s children’s improvement advisers spent time in 91 councils around England. Demonstrating the importance of our support offer, the report also found that 83 per cent of councils have improved or maintained their Ofsted judgements for leadership.
This coincided with a 35 per cent decrease in the number of councils judged ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ by the inspection agency.
At a political level, Shared Intelligence found that the LGA’s Children’s Leadership Essentials courses provide unique and valuable opportunities for learning, and that the networking – and the trusting nature of the relationship that develops through peer mentoring – enables learning and positive changes.
Similarly, the relationships between children’s improvement advisers and councils are highly valued, and are the foundation from which much positive change has been made.
With the fieldwork for the evaluation and report taking place before the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic was known, and before lockdown measures were implemented, it is possible that the experiences and situations of councils reflected within the report will have changed.
Moreover, the pandemic is likely to cause a knock-on impact for how children’s services are led and delivered in the future.
However, the report concludes that the LGA’s children’s SLI programme is a well-rounded offer, supporting collaboration at a regional level to make positive change and bringing together whole councils on their improvement journey.
As the country moves through the transition and recovery phases of the pandemic, the messages in this report will form a basis for future offers – but may need further consideration in the context of the ‘new normal’.