Learning & Improvement Framework

The Wakefield Safeguarding Children Partnership (WSCP) Learning and Improvement Framework (LIF) articulates how quality assurance, learning, improvement, and training are intrinsically linked to drive forward developments to multi-agency safeguarding children systems, processes and practice to improve outcomes for children and families in the Wakefield district.

The diagram outlines how WSCP translates learning identified through quality assurance activity into system, process and practice improvement.

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  • What is our partnership approach to learning and improving?
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    The LIF is designed to underpin and facilitate the development of a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the entire safeguarding system in the Wakefield district. It is based on:

    – locally agreed priorities set out in the WSCP Delivery Plan

    – knowing our strengths, what we do well and do more of it

    – knowing what children and families say 

    – learning from national and regional research

    – an outcomes based approach which challenges:

    how much did we do?

    how well did we do it?

    what difference did it make to outcomes for children and families?

    – a shared commitment to implementing and embedding recommendations to improve

    – a shared commitment to focus and learn from good practice as well as incidents which are notifiable

    Operation of the framework requires trust between services who make up WSCP that:

    – provides a high level of mutual support and challenge, sets ambitious expectations and enables effective, constructive scrutiny and assurance

    – fully involves practitioners to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith

    – avoids the development of a ‘blame culture’ 

    Learning and improvement activity must be able to assure WSCP about the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and demonstrate improvements in:

    – safeguarding arrangements and multi-agency working 

    – ensuring children and families receive ‘the right help at the right time’

    – outcomes for vulnerable children

  • Transparency and public accountability
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    In order to ensure transparency and public accountability learning and improvement activity should include:

    – the involvement of children and their families in improving the work of WSCP through their inclusion in quality assurance activity

    – publication of learning and improvement activity and the impact it has led to in developing safeguarding children systems, processes, and practice

    – production and publication of the WSCP Annual report evaluating and appraising the impact of the Partnership’s work

  • Partner agency contribution
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    Services who make up WSCP should contribute, and respond, to learning and improvement activity in a timely manner. This will include support to:

    learning and development activity:

    – provision of an appropriate learning and development lead / portfolio holder representative to co-design and develop the identified multi-agency learning and development offer through the Partnership’s Learning & Development sub-group function  

    – provision of appropriate officers who can contribute to the co-delivery of the Partnership’s learning and development offer

    the WSCP safeguarding effectiveness arrangements:

    – provision of information for the vital signs data set as requested

    – engagement in the WSCP Quality Assurance Programme

    – improvement sustained through implementation of recommendations arising, monitoring and follow up tracked by the Safeguarding Effectiveness Sub-Group action log

    effective member agency involvement in Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews, Learning Lesson Reviews, Child Death Reviews, Appreciative Inquiries through:

    – the timely provision of high quality information and analysis through the appropriately identified route 

    – attendance of agency personnel at all levels in reviews

    – a commitment to knowledge transfer, dissemination of learning and changes in practice which promote improved safeguarding outcomes for children and families

    the development of an overall understanding of the effectiveness of safeguarding activity in the Wakefield district through the sharing of findings from:

    – external inspections

    – internal reviews

    – quality assurance activity

    – multi-agency safeguarding practice weeks and assurance events

    – implementing actions identified to improve multi-agency working and outcomes for children and families

    – Ensuring the voice of the children is central throughout all the work of WSCP  

Approaches to learning
  • Rapid review
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    When an incident concerning neglect and/or abuse has led or contributed to the death or serious harm of a child it will be notified to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (National Panel) and a Rapid Review undertaken within 15 working days from notification.

    Rapid Reviews provide the opportunity for services to identify individual agency and multi-agency learning, alongside group and system learning which may pertain to wider safeguarding processes and practice.

  • Child safeguarding practice review
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    Once a Rapid Review is completed and submitted to the National Panel, WSCP may make the decision a further learning can be identified beyond a Rapid Review.

    The purpose of such review is to:

    – Establish whether there are any lessons to be learnt from the case and from the way in which local practitioners and organisations worked together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

    – Identify clearly what those lessons are, how they will be acted on, what is expected to change as a result and within what timescale.


    – Consequently, improve inter-agency working to better safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

    Typically, these reviews are undertaken by an external independent author, supported local services and take up to 6 months to finalise.

    WSCP will consider carefully how best to manage the impact of any publication on children, family members, practitioners and those closely affected by the case.  Where there are proceedings that may have an impact on or delay publication the WSCP will notify the National Panel.  However, learning will be disseminated and action taken at the earliest point and will not await the publication or completion of the review. 

    Published reports will be available on the WSCP Website for a minimum of one year.  A copy of the report will be sent by the WSCP Business Unit to the National Panel and Ofsted.

  • Learning circle
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    Where incidents occur which have not met the criteria of a notifiable incident, but it is recognised there is multi-agency learning, WSCP can undertake a Learning Circle.  A Learning Circle is one managed with the appointment of a nominated lead from one of the WSCP partners or Independent Scrutineer. 

    Learning Circles can be conducted speedily and cost effectively, harnessing the high levels of willingness of practitioners to critically reflect and learn.  They can be undertaken at any point and do not have to be delayed pending the outcome of any continuing activity/investigation. 

    The following is considered when a Learning Circle is being discussed:

    – Agreeing a proportionate response with a focus on learning

    – Recognition of the complexity of practice in relation to the presenting circumstances

    – Understanding of the practice at the time rather than using hindsight

    – Understanding of national learning or relevant research that already exists in relation to the issue that can be used to inform practice

    – Whether there is a conflict of interest that would impact on the impartiality of conducting a Learning Circle

    – Consideration in relation to either a specific incident or a culmination of circumstances, or recurring themes

  • Single agency learning review
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    It may be appropriate for a single agency learning review to be undertaken by a service in relation to a case. This will be determined when cases are presented to the WSCP Child Safeguarding Practice Review Group, who will determine the appropriate course of action to undertake.

  • Thematic audits
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    The WSCP Safeguarding Effectiveness Group has responsibility for the oversight and management of all multi-agency audit activity.

    Thematic audits consider a particular safeguarding theme and require a range of data and sources of information. The focus and outcome of these audits is explicit in the individual audits terms of reference, and methodologies are developed based on the stated aims.

    The focus of these audits is determined from a range of sources including:

    – the findings of national or local Safeguarding Practice Reviews

    – priorities agreed within the WSCP Delivery Plan

    – areas of concern emerging from practice, performance data and information

    These audits are undertaken as required, but typically the WSCP SEG work plan will specify the required thematic audits annually are aligned to the priority actions detailed within the WSCP Delivery Plan. Children and parents / carers are engaged appropriately in appraising the support they have been in receipt of.

    Thematic Audits take place twice per year and can lead to a deep dive multi-agency case audit if considered necessary.  A standard audit final report template has been developed for all audits.

    Analysis identifying good practice and learning is considered by the Partnership and actions adopted onto the Safeguarding Effectiveness Group action log for recommendations to be implemented by services. 

  • Deep dive multi-agency case audits
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    Multi-agency case audits (MACAS) have a specific focus on a particular area of multi-agency practice and procedure. Typically, WSCP aims to undertake up to four deep-dive audits a year. The audits involve a smaller number of cases to review and are more detailed in nature than Thematic Audits, reviewing a number of aspects to provide a more informed view of practice.  The audits ensure that the WSCP has a view across the child’s journey, but the focus is on the effectiveness of safeguarding (i.e. child in need, child protection and early help). Children and parents / carers are engaged appropriately in appraising the support they have been in receipt of.

    The audit approach is qualitative, incorporating a systems approach, which assumes that practitioner performance is a result of both their own skill and knowledge and the organisational setting in which they are working. For each deep dive audit a specific audit tool is agreed in advance.  The standard final audit report template is used.

    Case specific actions are progressed by services however if during an audit if there are any concerns about the immediate risk to a child and/or vulnerable adult or unsafe practice is raised, this information is escalated to the respective services for a response and assurance.

    Analysis identifying good practice and learning is considered by the Partnership and actions adopted onto the Safeguarding Effectiveness Group action log for recommendations to be implemented by services. 

  • Learning space thematic enquiries
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    In line with identified priorities or areas for closer scrutiny, Thematic Enquiries are carried out on specific focus areas to provide insight and understanding into multi-agency practice. These take the form of a one day audit group discussion.  Auditors work in pairs and work through randomly selected cases, completing the audit tool and consider the specific theme for the day.  Additional specialists from partner organisations can be involved.    The Thematic Enquiry is facilitated by an appropriate senior lead.  It is expected to be a dynamic activity, with lots of discussion in pairs and with the wider group to share developing themes, examples of practice and ask questions, all of which is live captured for the report from the day.

    Good practice and learning will be considered by the WSCP Learning and Development Subgroup and translated by the WSCP Business Unit into a briefing document for consideration by the WSCP Learning and Development Subgroup for wider learning. 

  • Learning circle conversations
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    Learning Circle Conversations are carried out on randomly selected cases across WSCP partners or when there have been disagreements between services, which have then been resolved, as to how to support a child and their family. The conversation takes a similar approach to an appreciative inquiry, and is between the allocated Practitioner(s), their own line manager(s) and moderator(s) from different team(s).  It should be a collaborative process, whereby the Practitioners are provided with the opportunity to have a conversation about the case, showcasing good work and evidence of improving outcomes, as well as identifying areas for development and opportunities to improve practice.

    There is a dual purpose to these conversations, the intention being to both assure the quality of work and understand impact on outcomes, and also to influence front line practice by facilitating good quality reflection. Comments and feedback are provided throughout in order to encourage learning and the conversation write up is then agreed and input into a Learning Circle record.

    Allocated Practitioner(s): should be prepared to answer questions and be part of the conversation, providing a well-rounded view, not just of what was done, but why was it done and what difference it made.

    Line manager(s): should have reviewed the agency case files and be alert to good practice and areas for development, to inform and direct the conversation.  The line manager(s) facilitate the conversation and takes a record of it and ensures it is input onto the WSCP Learning Space record.  A Line manager from each agency involved in the Learning Space should be involved to represent their agency in the discussion.

    Moderator(s): should have reviewed relevant agency case files and be alert to good practice and areas for development so to inform the conversation.  The moderator(s) should contribute both support and challenge to the conversation, exploring alternative perspectives where they exist and bringing own experiences and knowledge from another team or service area, to share learning across tea. A moderator should be identified and agreed by relevant agencies prior to the engagement in the learning space.

    A copy of the agreed Learning Circle Conversation record will be provided to the WSCP Business Unit who will translate the learning into a generic multi-agency briefing capturing good practice, analysis, areas for further development and arising actions.

  • Multi-agency practice weeks
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    During a Practice Week, visits with frontline practitioners and managers across a range of WSCP statutory partners and relevant agency services take place on a multi-agency basis.  WSCP aims to undertake at least one practice week a year. These are undertaken by senior managers including: 

    – WSCP Independent Scrutineer

    – WSCP Executive Members

    – Chairs of Subgroups

    – Lead Officers

    During the week undertake learning circle conversations (see above) with practitioners, hold discussions with individual workers and teams, as well as seeking feedback from other appropriate practitioners, children, and families.  This provides a rounded view of practice.  Direct observations of safeguarding practice include:

    – Team Around a School / Early Years meetings

    – Child Protection Conferences

    – Children in Care Reviews

    – Strategy Meetings

    – Exploitation Risk Assessment Meetings

    – Domestic Abuse Risk Assessment Meetings

    – Other multi-agency activities will also be carried out where possible 

    Any observation of activity with children and families must be agreed by the child and/or family in advance.

    Any concerns identified around individual practice are shared with the respective partner leads for WSCP Multi Agency Practice Week who follow their organisational policies and procedures to manage the concern and followed up by that lead within the respective partner organisation.  Similarly comments about good practice are shared with the relevant partner lead for WSCP Multi Agency Practice Week so it can be highlighted to the management in that organisation and passed to the relevant teams.  Examples of excellent practice and learning from Practice Week will be translated by the WSCP Business Unit into a briefing document for consideration by the WSCP Learning and Development Subgroup for wider learning.

Who is involved?
  • Practitioners
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    WSCP ensure that practitioners are engaged in the assurance work of the WSCP through involvement in specific assurance activity listed above and in addition Sub-Group representative feeding through view from frontline practice to WSCP.  Practitioners have an important role to play in learning reviews and audits, and feedback from training sessions, and are actively engaged in the learning arrangements.  Workshops and conferences are used to develop and strengthen existing practice and procedures. 

  • Children & families
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    WSCP receive and act upon information about the views and experiences of children and their families through seeking their participation in assurance activity.

    In addition, WSCP co-produces safeguarding resources, information and awareness raising materials alongside children and families to help equip with the knowledge to stay happy, healthy achieving and safe and what to do if they are worried about themselves, their child or somebody who they know.

  • Consultation with the public and other stakeholders
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    WSCP engage with the wider public and other stakeholders utilising several effective communication methods, including utilising the WSCP Website and social media through focused safeguarding campaigns.  Feedback and analytics are reviewed by Wakefield Metropolitan District Council’s Communication and Engagement and provided in a report to WSCP.

How learning is used and shared
  • Being proactive
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    Learning will be used to understand what we do well and do more of it.  It will also be used to challenge the Partnership and partner agencies to make improvements, through implementing action plans from inspections, reviews, and quality assurance activity. Learning will be used to make sustainable improvements to services to reduce the risk of future harm and promote the wellbeing of children.

  • Sharing learning
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    As part of the LIF, WSCP recognise that Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and other review processes are a central function for identifying learning from practice and are a significant tool for disseminating and embedding identified learning.

    WSCP also recognises that it has responsibility for disseminating learning to all the workforce across the Partnership through a range of means:

    through WSCP communications:

    – Safeguarding Practice Reviews appropriately published on the WSCP website

    – WSCP e-bulletin

    – advertising where appropriate on WSCP social media platforms

    the WSCP Learning and Development Sub-Group:

    – practitioner briefings

    – One Minute Guides

    – 7 Point Briefings

    – development of resources

    – embedded into training

    – learning and development opportunities

    – briefing events across the partnership 

    learning disseminated through individual agencies:

    – information cascaded to practitioners through single agency communication processes

    – policies and procedures appropriately reviewed and updated

    – learning incorporated within in single agency safeguarding training

    The embedding of learning is monitored through the Learning & Development Sub-Group in relation to learning points / findings from Safeguarding Practice Reviews and associated action plans. With regards to embedding of practice within services, including single agency training, the monitoring of action plans and the West Yorkshire Organisational Assessment (Section 11 Audit) provides assurance that this has happened, alongside specific challenge events deep diving into how learning has been sustained and multi-agency practice weeks which enable services to showcase good practice with partner agencies.

  • Monitoring the impact of changes
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    In order to ensure that changes are embedded, sustainable over time and have the desired effect, monitoring will be undertaken through the following processes:

    performance analysis:

    – WSCP Multi-Agency Vital Signs Data Set

    – Single agency performance systems

    quality assurance activity:

    – WSCP Quality Assurance Programme

    – Single agency assurance undertaken by partner agencies

    survey activity:

    – children and their families 

    – practitioners and line managers

    feedback from:

    – practitioners and line managers on the impact on practice of learning and development activity

    – children and their families on the impact of the services they have been in receipt

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