local government
primary & secondary education
voluntary sector

6th Annual Children’s Services Inspections Forum

local government

primary & secondary education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:00

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Central London

This Forum provides attendees with a timely opportunity to assess the impact of Ofsted’s new inspections framework and discuss how best to achieve outstanding children’s social care provision. A range of leading policy figures and best practice case studies that have been inspected under the new framework will share effective and transferable methods for reaching exceptional and sustainable service standards. This will enable participant discussion on how best to improve the supply of coherent and cohesive child-centred services and to develop an understanding of how best to deploy a shrinking pot of funding.


This Forum is specifically designed for Local Authorities and the Voluntary Sectors. Typical job titles will include:

  • Directors of Children’s Services
  • Directors of Safeguarding
  • Safeguarding Leads
  • Children’s Services Partnerships Leads
  • Families Services Directors
  • Heads of Child Protection
  • Heads of Children’s Social Care
  • Service Managers
  • Headteachers
  • Assistant and Deputy Heads
  • Principals and Vice Principals
  • Education Safeguarding Leads
  • Mentoring Managers
Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Senior Representative, Ofsted
  • Louise Bazalgette, Principal Research Advisor, Alliance for Useful Evidence and Research Lead, What Works Centre for Children’s Social CareNesta
  • Michelle Lee-Izu, Corporate Director Children’s Services (England), Barnardo’s 
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Eileen Munro CBE, Professor of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (invited)


Morning Keynote: Outlining the Latest Measures to Raise Children’s Social Care Service Standards

  • Supporting local authorities to deliver high performing children’s services regardless of geographical location
  • Securing a highly capable, highly skilled social work workforce including through the National Assessment and Accreditation System and Social Work England
  • Ensuring that children in need of help and protection are supported by a national system of excellent and innovative practice, including through a new What Works Centre
  • Reflecting on how the 2017 Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has helped improve the lives of vulnerable children
  • Detailing how inter-agency working can enhance children’s services through July 2018 Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance
  • Promoting the educational outcomes of disadvantaged children and young people
  • Improving understanding of child wellbeing and happiness

Victoria Chapman, Lead for Local Authority Intervention (Children’s Social Care), Department for Education (DfE) (invited)


Special Keynote: Reviewing the Impact of the New Inspection Framework and Procedure

  • Establishing the roles and responsibilities of the inspections of local authority children’s services (ILACS)
  • Explaining the rationale behind the different inspection pathways for LAs rated outstanding/good, requires improvement and inadequate
  • Considering how the introduction of regular ‘focused visits’, as well as monitoring visits, has helped Ofsted to identify any issues of concern and support local authorities to address them before services deteriorate
  • Reflecting on the impact of annual LA self-evaluation regarding to the quality and impact of their social work practice
  • Exploring how Ofsted inspections in their latest guise relate to its guiding principles: focusing on children’s needs and priorities whilst acting with consistency

Senior Representative, Ofsted (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Special Keynote: Improving Outcomes for Children Through Evidence-Informed Practice

  • Establishing the What Works Centre (WWC) for Children’s Social Care to enable evidence-informed practice across the sector
  • Applying a user-centred design approach to develop insights into social work practice that fill the gaps in the evidence base and make evidence more relevant for children’s service providers
  • Working in partnership with ‘pioneer councils’ to develop social care best practice
  • Enhancing accessibility of evidence through an online evidence store which outlines which social care interventions are effective and why
  • Developing evidence standards and an outcomes framework that ensure research is high quality, reliable and worthwhile for social care professionals

Louise Bazalgette, Principal Research Advisor, Alliance for Useful Evidence and Research Lead, What Works Centre for Children’s Social CareNesta (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: How to Respond to an Ofsted Inspection - Making Improvements to Tailor Provision to Childrens' Needs

  • Assembling an effective service improvement plan to obtain the council’s highest ever Ofsted rating in response to areas identified as weaknesses, such as case recording, alignment of procedures, and escalating cases when serious
  • Recognising the complex set of challenges that Brent faces in dealing with people of differing backgrounds, nationalities, cultures and religions, in a borough where over 150 languages are spoken
  • Taking into account the potential influence of religious beliefs and practices on parenting behaviour when conducting a culturally sensitive assessment
  • Placing communication with children and young people at the heart of all child and family social work
  • Driving interpersonal skills improvement of social workers and other practitioners
  • Entrenching robust processes to protect children at risk of radicalisation, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation and gang involvement

Gail Tolley, Director of Children’s Services, Brent County Council (invited)


Case Study: Delivering A Long-Term Plan for Sustainable High Quality Children’s Services

  • Identifying appropriate ways to respond to a reduction in resources as part of council-wide efficiency savings and a decline in the quality of some services, particularly for those children in need of help and protection
  • Conducting a large-scale restructure in 2017 leading to an improved early help service, increased capacity in frontline staffing and an enhanced service for children in care
  • Creating a residential edge-of-care service to help stabilise the number of children in care in Oxfordshire

Lucy Butler, Director for Children, Education and Families, Oxford County Council (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Panel Session: Discussing the Future of Children’s Services

  • To what extent can multi-agency working offset service constraints posed by local government cuts?
  • Reflecting on the impact of a reduction in funding for early intervention measures against an increase for safeguarding
  • Evaluating the role of the voluntary sector in raising standards and the delivery of children’s services
  • Discussing which actors and which sectors are best placed to fulfil the different children’s service roles
  • How can cross-sector resources be best harnessed to ensure a sustainable level of children’s services?

Michelle Lee-Izu, Corporate Director Children’s Services (England), Barnardo’s (CONFIRMED)
Natasha Beckles, Assistant Headteacher, The Willow Primary School (CONFIRMED)
Phil Harding, Network Advisor for Health and Social Care, CIPFA (CONFIRMED)



Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Highlighting the Value of Strong Leadership in Delivering High Quality Children's Services

  • Embedding a culture of child-centred excellence and continuous improvement across the whole council, creating an environment for children’s services to thrive
  • Developing a comprehensive framework for performance management and quality assurance which ensures effective lines of communication and accountability between senior leaders and frontline staff
  • Maximising the quality of social care practice through the provision of high-quality training and support for staff, resulting in a stable and experienced workforce
  • Sharing innovative approaches and learning lessons from North Lincolnshire’s collaboration with PHASE, a social enterprise which provides accommodation for care leavers before they can secure their own tenancies

Debbie Barnes OBE, Director of Children’s Services, North Lincolnshire County Council (invited)

Achieved an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted rating in 2017 for leadership, management and governance of children’s services


Case Study: Demonstrating the Value of Self-Evaluation To Raise Children's Services Standards

  • Developing and testing a self-evaluation toolkit that will allow services to monitor the impact of their own social care projects
  • Designing effective monitoring systems that will facilitate rigorous self-evaluation and subsequently enact real change in practice
  • Establishing a network within which lessons learned can exchanged and innovative ideas and evidence-based practice can be shared

Mr James Winterbottom, Director of Children’s Services, Wigan Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Closing Remarks

*programme subject to change


Since 2009, year on year the number of children in care has increased. At the same time, 62% of local authorities are delivering children’s services that are adjudged to ‘require improvement’ or to be ‘inadequate’. Whilst this figure has reduced by 2% in the last year, Local Government Association (LGA) analysis shows that this rising demand, coupled with local authority budget cuts, have resulted in 75% of councils in England overspending on their children’s services budgets. The LGA warns that a £2 billion funding gap could exist by 2020, highlighting that these pressures facing children’s services are unsustainable. Indeed, according to the latest ‘State of Local Government Finance’ Survey, children’s services are now the greatest immediate pressure for councils.

To address the growing crisis in children’s social care in the 2018 Autumn Budget 

it was announced that councils are free to spend around two-thirds of new local authority social care funds (£410m) on children’s care services. The government announced its Putting Children First strategy in 2016 which outlined plans for fundamental reform, including developing the social work profession, supporting innovation and establishing initiatives to foster evidence-informed practice. Since 2016, the government have committed £200 million to expand the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, which has now funded almost 100 projects designed to support sector-led improvement. This has been further supported by £15 million investment in the Partners in Practice Programme and the development of a ‘What Works Centre’ for Children’s Social Care, which intends to support improvement across the sector through sharing of evidence-based best practice.

Moreover, in January 2018 Ofsted introduced the inspections of local authority children’s services (ILACS) to establish more regular ‘focused visits’, whilst also monitoring visits to help identify any issues of concern and support local authorities in addressing them before services deteriorate. In addition, annual local authority self-evaluation regarding the quality and impact of their social work practice has been introduced.

If children’s services are to continue to improve to the backdrop of an alarming continuation of funding cuts, then Ofsted must work with local authorities, schools, families, children’s services providers and the voluntary sector to adapt and innovate and ensure that children, whatever their circumstance, are cared for to a standard that does not hinder their life chances.

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