December 2017  Chairs Introduction from David Ashcroft

Chairs Introduction from David Ashcroft


It was a privilege to meet so many Chairs, Board Managers and other colleagues at the AILC national Conference last month – and I am delighted that more than a few of you said that it felt the best conference we have held. The venue was congenial, the programme varied, and the contributions and interest from all delegates were stimulating and challenging. There was a great deal of common purpose and determination to be ambitious for children – and to make sure that new safeguarding arrangements really do make a difference.

I tried through my opening keynote address to set out some of the challenges and opportunities we face – please make use of these arguments and ideas, and the other material available on our website here.

In particular, I sought to articulate the context of austerity, the rising demand pressures, the significant funding shortfalls and new and evolving risks that face families, children and young people. As an Association, we have put together a number of documents and plans over recent months that not only help frame our national work – but are also, I trust, useful and relevant to local discussions about safeguarding priorities. If you were not able to attend Conference I hope you will find these of interest and helpful:

  • AILC Strategic Plan for 2017-2018 setting priorities for the coming year based on shared assumptions and a description of the context in which we operate
  • Our regular reports on Ofsted Reviews now showing 52% of Boards are good or outstanding
  • Our regular Newsletters and Annual Report providing information and suggestions for local action, and reporting on the activity undertaken so far
  • Our initial “Big Issues” paper on the Working Together Consultation which will be developed into a comprehensive response to the Government’s proposals
  • Our regular surveys of LSCBs, Chairs and Business Managers about how you are confronting the prospect and opportunities of new arrangements
  • Our initial working paper on possible new configurations and membership and purpose for AILC itself
  • Our developing exchange of information and ideas about new local partnership arrangements and the so-called “early adopters”

The December issue of Children and Young People Now carries an article on the new plans for local safeguarding arrangements, and I was interviewed for this to highlight some of our concerns and hopes for the new arrangements. I repeated my concern that there is a risk that the new arrangements are based on what agencies can afford rather than what is best for children – as a time of increasing demand and need. There is still a lot of work to do to hammer out agreements on footprint, functions and funding. What is encouraging and stimulating is the various ways in which several LSCBs and chairs are taking the lead in fashioning new local arrangements, looking at different ways of structuring and focusing local leadership and enhancing frontline practice.

Alan Wood is quoted that LSCBs and Serious Case Reviews were not, in his view, sufficiently effective. With the continuing evidence that many Boards are inclusive partnerships, working well and developing innovation, I think this can no longer be sustained as the basis for change and future improvement. We need to root that loudly and clearly in what makes a difference for children and young people – not in the structure of inter-agency working.

David Ashcroft

Association News

Good News about “Good” LSCBs

63% of LSCBs are “OUTSTANDING” or “GOOD” this year

This information is hot off the press as AILC has just analysed the very latest of Ofsted’s published reports of LSCB reviews. AILC’s analysis shows an excellent trajectory with increasingly numbers of LSCBs judged to be good or better – up to 63% in the latest round, and 52% overall. This challenges the assumption that LSCBs are not effective or efficient in their work and sets a new benchmark about what should be transferred into new Multi-agency arrangements.

Look out for AILC’s next analysis of Ofsted reports in early 2018, with all comments about Chairs/Board staff, and analysis within themes – this will be provided to members first as a benefit.

There are no plans currently for there to be any dedicated inspections of the new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements (MASAs) or even that all plans will be centrally reviewed and agreed at meeting minimum requirements.

This matter was raised as highly significant at Conference – how can government create a new safeguarding system and at the same time cease/not hold future inspections of such arrangements to ensure children’s safety across the country? This is being taken up by AILC.

AILC National Conference - A Great Success!

A most sincere thank you to all who took part in this year’s national Conference, ‘Safeguarding Outcomes : Ambitious for Children’.

Excellent presentations including the Child’s Voice in Inquiries, Early Adopters, Neglect, Inspections, Leadership & Diversity were equaled by highly engaged debate amongst delegates (supported by MeetingSphere around issues important to children, children whom some astute delegates recommended, should be regarded as the 4th Safeguarding Partner.

Many Conference materials are now available for delegates
to access via our website. We have circulated to members and delegates, a list of comments arising throughout sessions, divided into the ‘Working Together’ consultation questions. And a report of the Conference will shortly be uploaded on our website. Headline feedback is that:

  • Many delegates wanted AILC to be assertive in raising concerns about the impact upon children of the new safeguarding system, and of austerity
  • 91% of delegates rated the quality of the Conference as Very Good or Good
  • 56% of delegates rated themselves with High/Very High Knowledge, Skills and Confidence before conference, and 89% after Conference

Safeguarding in Education

AILC is supporting a really important piece of research examining how schools work with other agencies to safeguard children. Schools are our best safeguards as they see almost all children on a daily basis, so we do hope you will respond positively to the questions being sent to LSCB Board Managers in January. Click here to access.

The Children & Social Work Act Update

With only a few weeks remaining before DfE’s consultation on ‘Working Together’ closes on 31st December 2017. AILC urges all LSCBs, individuals and organisations to contribute to the consultation process and make their views clear to DfE with as many submissions as possible.

The need for dedicated inspections, the need for a list of minimum functions, and the need to define and set standards for scrutiny and challenge, will be major aspects in AILC’s submission, which will be shared in January.

The results of our October survey, on changes around the country, were sent to members in advance and shared with delegates at Conference. Findings from a response rate of just under a hundred include:

  • “Having preliminary discussions” was the most common stage across LSCBs
  • Setting out core functions such as Performance Management/Quality Assurance; Learning and Improvement
  • Independent Scrutiny and resolving differences and making collegiate decisions across the partnerships were cited as important to be included in guidance by over 70% of respondents
  • After clear guidance, respondents wanted to share understanding and information about the development of changes in LSCBs and partnerships
  • Funding was the most common issue being asked to be taken up nationally
  • Asked “When you make changes, what will these be?” most responded “No change” or “Other”; just under half in equal numbers thought that joining up with adults or other areas was likely either through joint Boards or merged Business Units

AILC’s survey is one strand of many being developing to help us all understand the national picture of change. Our ‘Early Adopters’ examples will be refreshed in the New Year – these are based upon information received, but also depend upon your notifying us of any changes you are making- the more we share the more we learn - so please do drop a line or two regarding your changes to Sarah Webb at

Here is a reminder of the Indicative Implementation Timetable:

“LSCBs must continue to undertake their Statutory functions, as they are legally required to do, until the
new safeguarding arrangements are in place.”
DfE 2017

National Policy News

Ofsted - New Framework Published

Ofsted published a new framework, on the 29th November 2017 for the inspection of local authority children’s services (ILACS). These inspections start in January 2018. They also updated existing single inspection framework (SIF) documents.
The next round of JTAI’s in 2018 will be on sexual abuse within the family.

Austerity and Budgets

Children’s services are facing a deepening crisis after the budget failed to provide extra funding for children’s social care. A joint letter to the Government from NCB, LGA, Barnardo’s, The Children’s Society and Action for Children urged Ministers to take urgent action.
Click here.

'Children’s social care is being pushed to breaking point, with an unprecedented surge in demand leaving services across the public, voluntary and community sector struggling to cope … the funding gap facing children’s services will reach at least £2 billion by 2020.’

Ensuring Children’s Voices are Heard in Research

Dr. Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Dr. Elly Hanson and Pat Branigandiscuss the challenges presented by professional gatekeeping – and how to overcome them in a report important for LSCBs on involving children. Click here.

Home Schooling and County Line Drug Gangs

Two recent articles in CYPNow show that Children's Service Leaders have called for tougher regulation of home schooling after it emerged that the number of children being educated outside of schools is rising fast.

And children are being exploited by drugs gangs through so-called "county lines" crime, in at least two thirds of police force areas, a National Crime Agency report has found. Click here.

New Research on How Children Feel

The ‘Good Childhood Report 2017’, produced by the Children’s Society in partnership with the University of York, is about how children in the UK feel about their lives. The report examines the latest trends in well-being over time, explanations for gender patterns in well-being, and insights on how problems mount up to damage children’s well-being. The report shows that one million teenagers have seven or more serious problems in their lives. At a time of drastic Government cuts to funding for local children’s services, the findings give deep cause for concern.
Click here for further information.

Ofsted Announces New Director for Social Care

Ofsted has confirmed that Yvette Stanley has been appointed National Director for Social Care. Yvette is currently Director for Children, Schools and Families at Merton Council. She will take up post in April 2018.

Contact the Association

Please phone the Association on 07880 209 788 if you would like any help at all, or email if you have queries or comments.

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I always welcome feedback on the Newsletter or the activity of the Association, so do contact me at

With best wishes,


David Ashcroft
AILC Chair
Association Phone 07880 209788
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