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1.1.2 Quality Assurance and Learning Framework

AMENDMENT

This chapter was extensively updated in April 2018 and should be re-read throughout.


Contents

  1. Principles and Purpose
  2. Summary
  3. Case File Audits
  4. Supervision Audit
  5. Staff Observation
  6. Observation of Meetings
  7. Themed Audit Days

    Appendix A: Section 1 (Case Summary and Key Information)

    Appendix B: Supervision Audit

    Appendix C: Practice Observation (Children's Services)

    Appendix D: Quality Assurance Framework for Conference and Review Service


1. Principles and Purpose

Bedford Borough Council is committed to providing high quality, dependable services for children, young people and their families. We will keep children at the heart of our services and ensure the best quality intervention for children and families by making Quality Assurance part of everyone’s business. The key elements for our service are set out below:

  • Child Centred: the focus of quality assurance will be on the experiences, progress and outcomes of the child or young person on their journey through our social work and safeguarding systems;
  • Restorative: quality assurance will be restorative. Instead of a top down approach, quality assurance work will be based on working with staff and managers and building relationships. As a restorative process quality assurance will be characterised by both high support and high challenge;
  • Outcomes Based: in line with the key behaviours for children’s services, the proper focus of quality assurance will be on outcomes rather than processes;
  • Positive: our approach to quality assurance will be positive - looking at informing and encouraging improvement and supporting the development of staff and services;
  • Reflective: our quality assurance framework is designed to be about promoting reflective practice and shared learning.


2. Summary

The key elements of the Quality Assurance Framework within Children’s Services are as follows:

  • Case File Audits. All Managers will undertake audits to assess the quality of recording, practice and the outcomes and experiences of children and young people. This includes:
    • A random sample of roughly 10% of cases per year;
    • Compliance audits to support the quality of supervision;
    • A programme of thematic audit days on key issues of concern for the service.
  • Supervision Audit. The quality of supervision is crucial to front line practice. Supervision will be assured by:
    • A regular monthly audit of supervision records;
    • At least an annual survey of staff.
  • Staff Observation. All staff will be observed to assess the quality of their practice in working with children and families and/or partner agencies. Staff observation will include all staff but with additional focus on those with additional development needs such as newly qualified staff;
  • Meeting observation. Key decision-making meetings will be observed through a programme led by senior leaders within the service to assure their effectiveness. Observations will consider key factors such as leadership by social work staff, multi-agency working, and the involvement of children and families.

In addition to these processes driven by service leaders, Children’s Services work closely with a range of other colleagues and partners to support wider quality assurance and learning. Children’s Services regularly reviews the findings of these processes and agrees shared improvement plans through the Senior Leadership Team and Departmental Management Team:

  • Conference and Review Service (please see Appendix D: Quality Assurance Framework for Conference and Review Service) The CRS leads key quality assurance processes including:
    • Independent Reviewing Officers reviews of Children Looked After;
    • CP Chairs reviews of children subject to a Child Protection Plan.
  • Local Safeguarding Children Board: The LSCB undertakes a wide programme of quality assurance and audit each year and the Children’s Social Work Service works closely with the LSCB to support this programme;
  • Fostering and Adoption quality assurance. The Fostering and Adoption teams have their own additional quality assurance and audit processes focusing on the specialist roles and practice of workers in these areas;
  • Complaints and compliments: complaints and compliments provide a key element of quality assurance and source of intelligence on strengths and areas for improvement;
  • Involving Children and Young People: there are a range of regular groups and surveys that provide valuable insights into the views and experiences of children, young people and families. These include the established formal groups – such as Children in Care Council and Youth Council; regular focus groups and surveys;
  • Involving Families: there are a range of groups and surveys that provide valuable insights into the views and experiences of families.


3. Case File Audits

Rationale

Case file audits provide an invaluable perspective on front line practice. Effective audits can provide insight not only into the quality of recording but also into the quality of work with the child, the quality of management and support for the worker and, importantly, the views, experiences and outcomes for the child. The framework below sets out how this will operate.

In broad terms the service intends to:

  • Complete file audits on a random 10% sample of cases each year (c.140) to assess progress in improving practice and identify priorities for learning and improvement;
  • Complete a programme of thematic audits on issues where there are key concerns for the service, to support plans and learning for improvement.

Roles and Responsibilities

Team Managers

  • All Team Managers will undertake one case file audit per month;
  • Team Managers may undertake up to four additional thematic audits each year on key areas of concern for the service;
  • Team Managers will ensure at least 2 compliance audits for each member of staff they supervise are completed prior to supervision. Where remedial actions are required from these compliance audits, the manager will add a management direction case note detailing the required actions and timescales and will then review completion of these actions within supervision;
  • Team Managers will ensure there is a process within the team to oversee and track remedial actions.

Advanced Practitioners

  • All Advanced Practitioners will undertake one case file audit per month;
  • Advanced Practitioners may undertake up to four additional thematic audits each year on key areas of concern for the service;
  • Advanced Practitioners will ensure at least 2 compliance audits for each member of staff they supervise are completed prior to supervision. Where remedial actions are required from these compliance audits, the manager will add a management direction case note detailing the required actions and timescales and will then review completion of these actions within supervision.

Senior Managers (Heads of Service, Chief Officer, Director)

  • All Senior Managers will review the audits completed within the service and Quality Assure the audits, sharing feedback with the relevant Team Manager/ Advanced Practitioner;
  • Where learning is identified for individuals or teams within the service, the Manager of the relevant service will discuss this within supervision with the relevant Team Manager and will agree a plan to address the learning;
  • Where required the Manager will commission the Safeguarding and Quality Assurance team to undertake an independent audit to test out the learning and improvement.

All Auditors will:

  • Ensure that the audits are completed by the due date (these are automatically sent to the S&QA team via Survey Monkey);
  • Ensure that Remedial Actions are notified to the Worker and Manager within 48 hours, and copied to IRO/CP Chair as required; (Auditors should send an email with all actions required to the Worker, Manager and where appropriate IRO/CP Chair and then copy this into Azeus);
  • Ensure, where possible, that the audit is undertaken with the worker. Where this cannot be achieved, the auditor will offer a shared reflective discussion with the worker on the case audited.

Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Team will:

  • Complete monthly overview reports on all quality assurance activity, reporting to DMT. These reports will be shared with other leadership groups where requested/ required;
  • Produce regular briefings for the service in the learning and improvements demonstrated through quality assurance activity;
  • Dip sample audits to ensure that the quality of audits is of a high standard and remedial actions are being followed through;
  • Undertake independent audits where requested from the relevant service Manager;
  • Lead on thematic audit days across the service.

Leadership Groups

  • DMT and where relevant, SLT will all consider the findings of case file audits at least quarterly, highlighting key learning points and identifying actions for workforce development etc.

Forms and Guidance

Please see Appendix A: Section 1 (Case Summary and Key Information) for case audit template.

Compliance audits should cover the following:

  • Religion;
  • Ethnicity;
  • Up to date Chronology;
  • Assessment in time;
  • Up to date Plan;
  • Visit in time;
  • Supervision in time.


4. Supervision Audit

Rationale

Effective frontline supervision is vital for effective front line social work practice. The workforce requires support both with their professional development as well as case specific management oversight and supervision.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Managers (Heads of Service) will undertake one audit of a Team Manager’s professional supervision records each month and one audit of a Team Manager’s case specific supervision each month;
  • Team Managers will undertake one audit of their Advanced Practitioner’s professional supervision records each month and one audit of their Advanced Practitioner’s case specific supervision each month;
  • Managers will review findings of the audits at their next supervision;
  • Managers will agree actions required as an outcome of the supervision audits and record these within the supervision record of the supervisor who was audited;
  • Managers will send a copy of the audit record to the S&QA Team upon completion of the review with the TM/AP;
  • Manager (Head of Service) will prepare a quarterly summary of issues and learning from supervision audits;
  • DMT will review Supervision Audit findings quarterly in order to support learning and development of the service.

Forms and Guidance

Please see Appendix B: Supervision Audit in Local resources.


5. Staff Observation

Rationale

Observation of staff in their everyday work is an important element of quality assuring front line social work. Supervision and case file audits on their own are useful but cannot fully assess the way workers work, support families and build relationships with children, young people and families. Observation of practice provides a complementary alternative, offering an opportunity to gain a picture of the way that workers work with children and families, their behaviours, outlook and approach.

The approach to staff observation will be closely linked to PDR’s. Issues to assess at observation will be informed by PDR priorities and, in turn, observation findings will be a key source of information for staff PDR’s.

Roles and Responsibilities

Team Managers/Advanced Practitioners

  • The Team Manager and Advanced Practitioner within the Academy will observe the practice of newly qualified workers in line with local and national AYSE policy, using agreed templates for this;
  • All Team Managers (or APs where agreed locally) will observe the practice of workers at least once every year;
  • All Team Managers will identify any workers within the team in need of support with improving performance. These workers will be observed at least every 6 months, and more frequently where required;
  • All Team Managers/APs will share Observations with workers and undertake a shared reflective review following the observation or at the next supervision, whichever is most appropriate. A shared action plan will be agreed as necessary;
  • All TMs/APs will share completed Observations with their line manager and the S&QA team;
  • All TMs/APs will link observations with the PDR process and agree priorities for observation.

Managers (Heads of Service)

  • All Managers will ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place within teams for staff observation;
  • All Managers will report on the learning from staff observation at least annually.

Leadership Groups

  • DMT and SLT will all consider the findings of staff observation at least once per year, highlighting key learning points and identifying actions for workforce development etc.

Forms and Guidance

Please see Appendix C: Practice Observation (Children's Services) in Local resources.


6. Observation of Meetings

Rationale

In addition to assuring the quality of front line practice, it is important to assess the quality of shared working and decision-making in key meetings because these groups and processes have a key role in the safeguarding system in Bedford Borough. Observation of meetings is an important way to judge how well these important decisions are being made and how different staff, teams and agencies are working with children and families.

Roles and Responsibilities

Managers (Heads of Service)

  • Managers will observe a key meeting within their service at least twice per year;
  • Managers will complete a record of the observation and discuss this with the chair of the meeting. A shared record of learning and actions will be agreed and recorded;
  • Managers will send a copy of the observation record to the S&QA Team.

Chief Officer and Director

  • Senior Leaders will observe key meetings once per year;
  • Roles as above.

Areas and Judgements

The following meetings will be observed:

  • Child Protection Conference – Initial/ Review;
  • Strategy discussion/meeting;
  • Core Group meeting;
  • Looked After Child Review;
  • ARP (Access to Resources Panel);
  • Legal Planning Meeting;
  • Child in Need Meeting.

Each meeting will be assessed in the following areas:

  • The focus on the child;
  • Children, young people and their families feedback and whether they feel they have been effectively helped;
  • Attendance and participation of children, young people, and advocates, including effectiveness of communication and involvement, evidence of understanding and impact;
  • Attendance and participation of parents, carers and advocates, including effectiveness of communication and involvement, evidence of understanding and impact;
  • Attendance and participation of professionals and partner agencies;
  • Protective factors are acknowledged and built upon;
  • Risk is identified, responded to and reduced;
  • Quality of decision-making - effective and timely;
  • Quality of evidence gathering and information sharing;
  • Quality of assessment and help: comprehensive and up to date;
  • Quality of planning and review. Reviews are timely, effective, appropriately challenging and lead to the delivery of a child-centred plan;
  • Effectiveness of coordination between agencies and quality of joint working;
  • Consideration and impact of age, disability, ethnicity, faith or belief, gender, gender identity, language, race and sexual orientation;
  • Overall effectiveness.

Forms and Guidance

Please see Appendix C: Practice Observation (Children's Services) in Local resources.


7. Themed Audit Days

Rationale

In order to promote consistent decision making, consistent expectations of good and outstanding practice and support reflective practice, the service will hold half day themed audit days. These days will use performance data, audited cases, feedback from professionals/ staff/ families and any other relevant information to explore as a service how we are performing in certain areas. These days will provide oversight, analysis and challenge of practice while jointly identifying any areas for learning and development.

Roles and Responsibilities

Director and Chief Officer

  • The Director and Chief Officer will support the day by leading relevant discussions and promoting involvement, challenge and the development of common standards of excellence in practice;
  • The Director and Chief Officer will support with the identification of relevant themes taken from local performance data, national trends, serious incident, and serious successes.

Managers (Heads of Service)

  • Managers will support with the identification of relevant themes taken from local performance data, national trends, serious incident, and serious successes.

Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Team

  • The S&QA team will lead the day, planning and where appropriate, completing the themed audits, ensuring relevant performance data and other relevant information is available and ensuring the day promotes positive learning;
  • The S&QA team will lead any live auditing during the meetings and ensure this is done in a safe and supportive manner;
  • The S&QA team will ensure that the outcome of each themed audit day leads to a targeted action plan to address areas for improvement and will support the task and finish group to achieve the actions set.

Leadership Groups

  • DMT and SLT will ensure that any actions and plans as a result of the themed audit days are embedded within practice.


Appendices

Appendix A: Section 1 (Case Summary and Key Information)

Appendix B: Supervision Audit

Appendix C: Practice Observation (Children's Services).

Appendix D: Quality Assurance Framework for Conference and Review Service

End