There are two reasons why the Association has introduced an SCR Peer Consultation Scheme. The Association’s Grant Agreement with the DfE requires that:
At least 75% of SCRs that are completed during the course of the grant will have received peer advice, support and challenge, including on the draft overview report.” (It has been clarified that this does not mean that 75% of overview reports themselves should be peer reviewed as there is always a high degree of independent involvement in the report itself). The Association is badging the scheme ‘peer consultation’ to make clear its voluntary nature, and that a Chair’s statutory duties and exercise of independence remain unfettered
- Whilst the Peer Consultation Scheme supports the DfE KPI, more importantly, it is congruent with the underpinning Objectives of the Association i.e. to provide support to Chairs and sharing learning in order to improve the lives of vulnerable children.
Following discussion at the annual conference, it was agreed that the scheme will essentially revolve around Chair to Chair support, usually, although not exclusively, on an in-Region basis. The support is not imposed, but is encouraged as good practice, and nothing in the scheme impairs a Chair from fulfilling their statutory duties as they see fit.
The Association has made it clear to the DfE that the scheme is not intended to ‘quality assure’ SCRs in the way that Ofsted did previously
Association Members have described wanting the process to be as easy as possible, especially bearing in mind that providing peer consultation is likely to be a good will gesture, rather than remunerated. A Chair should simply consult a fellow Chair for support on a particular issue related to the SCR, and agree the nature of this between themselves. This could be, for example, on:
the decision to hold an SCR (including whether any other form of review would be appropriate)
- setting up the SCR and process issues
- the overview report (see below)
- how to make the report publishable
- decisions on publication
- the LSCB response to the SCR
Although there is no requirement for the overview report itself to be subject to peer consultation under this scheme, some early trials of doing this have shown the value of a Chair, with no prior knowledge of the case, looking over the draft and feeding back on how it comes across. The peer consultation can also feed-back on the strength of conclusions, which can sometimes be affected by local dynamics. It can also provide advice on how a report can be made more publishable.
The status of any consultation given is captured by the intent behind this scheme i.e. this is a voluntary exercise and final accountability and independent rests with the LSCB Chair. LSCB Chairs will routinely seek consultation, at a local level, in their decision making and this scheme enhances this practice, by providing LSCB Chairs with a regional/national resource on which to draw. The consultation should be provided on a voluntary basis, in line with the help requested, and provided in a non-judgemental (even if frank) way.
While the nature and general outcome of the peer support should be reported to the Association (see below), the detail provided should be general rather than detailed, particularly as some of the discussions may be of a delicate nature.
In order to oversee the usefulness and effectiveness of this scheme in contributing to the Objectives of the Association (and also to report on progress against the Grant Agreement), it is necessary that some record is kept of the consultation sought and provided. This is kept to a minimum for simplicity and confidentiality, but allows the Association to make further inquiries if necessary, and to see what is being learned by the process.
The form supplied should be used even if the consultation leads to no SCR being commissioned.
If peer consultation is sought at different stages in a single SCR please submit a different form as this will give the Association a contemporaneous record of the usefulness of the scheme, rather than having to wait for the completion of an SCR before knowing whether peer consultation has been applied. If it is impractical to do this please make it clear on the form that there have been different episodes of consultation. Thank you
Any queries about the scheme/report form should be addressed to either: Alison Thorpe, email@example.com or Sarah Webb firstname.lastname@example.org