To update the Sub-Committee on the implementation of the new arrangements for safeguarding as required by the Children and Social Work Act and revised statutory guidance Working Together 2018
The Sub-committee received a report from the Independent Advisor to the North Tyneside Children Partnership on the implementation of the new arrangements for Safeguarding as required by the Children and Social Work Act and revised statutory guidance “Working Together” 2018.
These arrangements replaced the requirement for a statutory Board and Independent Chair. Responsibility and accountability for the delivery of the requirements of the statutory guidance, now rested with what were termed the three Statutory Partners who were the Local Authority, the Chief Constable and the Clinical Commissioning Group.
The retention of a form of partnership was identified through consultation as being important. In order to reflect past learning, a new partnership had been formed (North Tyneside Children Partnership) which looked to combine the strengths of the previous Children Young People’s Partnership and the Local Safeguarding Children Board. This would provide a focus on overall outcomes for children and young people in the borough and integrate assurance and learning to ensure that all priorities and outcomes were widely owned. This partnership would also develop an approach to learning and assurance that ensured there was a focus on joint working to protect children and promote their welfare in order that the Statutory Partners could meet their statutory requirements.
The new partnership was directly accountable to the North Tyneside Strategic Partnership and would develop effective lines of reporting and sharing with other partnerships. The Statutory Partners had established regular meetings to provide a lead for implementation and a work plan would address key delivery and development issues. This included the need to produce a report within twelve months outlining progress, learning and impact. This report would also itemise further changes that might be needed.
There was a requirement for the provision of independent scrutiny, but the guidance was not specific as to what form this should take. For the interim period, a role of Independent Advisor had been created to provide the statutory partners and the partnership with support and advice. This role was also responsible for the development and operation of the means to look into the effectiveness of practice and how joint working arrangements were acting on learning.
The new partnership would continue to benefit from the arrangements in place to provide children and young people with an opportunity to be heard and to influence priorities and outcomes. In terms of safeguarding arrangements, it was the intention to develop a particular approach that reflected the need to recognise and learn from the experiences of children who were vulnerable and who had experienced harm, neglect, abuse and exploitation. This would draw on wider learning that was emerging and was often referred to as “lived experience”. If successful, this would add a new perspective to the understanding of abuse and therefore how joint working arrangements could be developed to reflect this. There were parallels with the approaches to Children who were Looked After and the wider intention to ensure that the new arrangements were focused on joint working practice.
Following the implementation of the new arrangements the responsibility for how the system learned lessons from serious child safeguarding incidents lay at a national level with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and at a local level with the safeguarding partners. The three safeguarding partners were required to make arrangements to identify serious child safeguarding cases which raised issues of importance in relation to the area
and commission and oversee the review of those cases, where they considered it appropriate for a review to be undertaken.
A Member expressed concern that there could be a dip in service between the abolition of the Statutory Board and the development of the new service and the Independent Advisor stated that the risks had been addressed.
He noted that the implementation of the new arrangements was at an early stage. The Statutory Partners in North Tyneside had embraced the opportunities this represented on the basis of a considered and careful approach. This recognised the need to remain focused on the high levels of jeopardy safeguarding represented, not least for local children and young people. As before being assured that the complexity and real challenges of effective joint working arrangements were effective was not a simple task. Not withstanding the local choices, there was an inherent level of risk in the changes required by legislation and guidance especially regarding adjustments in terms of leadership, accountability and the role of independence.
Effective safeguarding required ownership and investment at every level and across the many places where children and young people lived and came into contact with risk.
At this point developments were likely to benefit from close monitoring, degrees of challenges including an independent perspective, in order to realise the potential and opportunity to develop and maintain a meaningful and effective perspective on being assured that children and young people were protected and that their welfare was promoted.
In response to a question regarding the move away from a statutory independent partnership, the Independent Advisor noted that there was a risk of reducing the level of challenges taking place but that anyone had the opportunity to raise questions and challenges with Ofsted.
Members referred to the arrangements in place to involve young people and hoped that children and young people’s voices would be valued and that there would be a cultural change.
The Committee received an update on the case of Child A and it was noted that the decision not to undertake a Review had been endorsed by the three statutory Safeguarding Partners.
The Independent Advisor stated that the National Panel which scrutinised and challenged all decisions had agreed with the decision not to commission a local child safeguarding practice review (LCSPR).
A request was made that in future, the Sub-Committee would be informed of the death of a child in the Borough. The Senior Manager undertook to liaise with the Cabinet Member regarding a mechanism for informing the Sub-Committee.
A concern was expressed that education was not a full statutory partner in the new arrangements. It was noted that the Executive Group membership included two Head Teachers and at operational level the education service was absolutely committed to safeguarding.
It had been agreed that the annual Section 11 self-assessment process for schools and colleges would be maintained and this produced a pro-active picture of how children and young people were being safeguarded where they were educated.
The Chair thanked the Independent Advisor and Officers for the informative report and for attending the meeting.
It was agreed to note the contents of the report.