Statutory Guidance which underpins the work of LSCBs is very clear in its expectation that when things go wrong for children, through death or serious injury from maltreatment, there needs to be a rigorous, objective analysis of what happened and why, so that important lessons can be learnt and services improved in order to reduce the risk of future harm to children. It is also essential that these processes should be transparent, with findings of reviews shared publicly. LSCBs need to put in place and maintain a local learning and improvement framework which is shared across local organisations that work with children and families. A high profile element of this framework is the Serious Case Review (SCR). Details of SCRs can be found in the Working Together guidance.
The role of the Independent LSCB Chair in the SCR process is significant. It is the responsibility of the LSCB Chair to make the ultimate decision about whether the LSCB should commission a SCR, or a different process for learning lessons. The LSCB Chair also has to make the final decision about whether to publish the SCR report, based on the premise that all SCRs should be published, unless there are very compelling reasons not to.
Whilst the revised Working Together 2013 guidance has introduced greater flexibility about the methodology and processes which may be used in SCRs, it has also introduced a new element to the national scrutiny of the wider SCR contribution to child protection, through the "National Panel of Independent Experts on SCRs" The Association is engaged in discussion with the Department for Education about the role of the new national panel, its interface with the Association's Peer Consultation Scheme and the exercise of LSCB Chairs' independence.