Peer Support

Introduction

To support, and challenge, Independent LSCB Chairs in their duties with regard to Serious Case Reviews, the Association has established a “Peer Consultation Scheme” for its Members. The key aspiration of the Association is that this scheme increases LSCB Chairs’ confidence and expertise in this challenging element of their role, by providing them with the support and wisdom of their peers at any stage of the SCR process. This scheme is entirely voluntary for LSCB Chairs and will in no way compromise their independence in the exercise of their role with their own LSCB.

The scheme offers a resource on which the Association encourages LSCB Chairs to draw, not only to support local safeguarding decisions, but also to contribute to the wider learning of the Association, in keeping with its underpinning Objectives.

The Peer Consultation Scheme is administered through the regional infrastructure and the learning from this is channelled nationally, so that any lessons can be shared and utilised to improve SCR and other learning processes across LSCBs.

If you are a member of the Association and you would like more information about this scheme, or you are seeking specific practice experience or professional insight to assist you in any stage of an SCR process, please approach your Regional Director.

SCR Peer Consultation Scheme feedback form
The National Panel of Independent Experts on Serious Case Reviews 

Chapter 4 of Working Together 2013 makes the provision for a national panel of independent experts to advise Local Safeguarding Children Boards (‘LSCBs’) about the initiation and publication of Serious Case Reviews (‘SCRs’). The role of the panel is to support LSCBs in ensuring that appropriate action is taken to learn from serious incidents in all cases where the statutory SCR criteria are met and to ensure that those lessons are shared through publication of final SCR reports. The panel will report to the Government their views of how the SCR system is working.
The panel's remit include advising LSCBs about:

Application of the SCR criteria;

  • Appointment of reviewers; and

  • Publication of SCR reports

The aims of the independent panel are to:

  • Bring rigorous independent scrutiny to the system

  • Help LSCBs apply the criteria for initiating SCRs when a child dies or is seriously harmed and there are signs of abuse and neglect

  • Advise - and where appropriate challenge - LSCBs when they decide not to initiate a SCR or intend not to publish a report

LSCBs should have regard to the panel's advice when deciding whether or not to initiate an SCR, when appointing reviewers and when considering publication of SCR reports. LSCB Chairs and LSCB members should comply with requests from the panel as far as possible, including requests for information such as copies of SCR reports and invitations to attend meetings. For more information:
DfE instructions for LSCBs re SCR national panel.

FAQ on the national panel process

Guidance for SCR Peer Consultation Scheme

Introduction

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

Process

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.

Reporting

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

Queries

Any queries about the scheme/report form should be addressed to either: Alison Thorpe, manager@lscbchairs.org.uk or Sarah Webb policy@lscbchairs.org.uk