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Partners in Practice


Essex are delivering peer support to 12 local authorities each year. Essex specialises in working alongside authorities to improve social work practice, and outcomes for children and their families, ranging from deep dives into discrete areas of practice, right up to whole system re-design, and regional, peer challenge and mutual support.

Understanding what works

The Essex approach is founded on their own experience of transforming its services from inadequate to good, with outstanding leadership. Its work, delivering successful change with other authorities of different sizes, conditions and cultures, means that it can tailor its support, to fit local conditions.

Essex uses a strengths-based systemic model of practice, supported by reflective supervision, and underpinned by research.

Essex has well developed approaches to undertaking diagnostics, deep dives, audit, and building rich quantitative and qualitative management information, to understand and support the quality of practice and, so, deliver better outcomes for children.

They also have experience in developing and establishing innovative services, which produce successful outcomes, including: preventing re-offending, adoption recruitment, and post-SGO support.

Additionally, Essex is involved in the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. It leads the Inside Out project, partnered with Hertfordshire, Norfolk and The Children’s Society. This aims to deliver step-down services and, where appropriate, reunification of the least-engaged children in care, through direct, intensive work with those young people and their families. Please click here for further project information.

Sector improvement

Essex is offering bespoke and targeted peer support to up to 24 local authorities over a two-year period. The type and intensity of support offered depends on the needs of the local authority and the outcome of the diagnostic.

This includes helping authorities to:

  • Improve front-door services helping to make sure thresholds are being applied effectively and efficiently, and that the right kind of support or service is being provided, at contact and referral.
  • Deliver good, direct social work practice delivering child-focussed interventions, which put children and young people at the heart of practice, making a real difference in their lives, for example, through delivering assessment as part of solution-focussed interventions, managing risk through strengths-based case conferences, and good care planning.
  • Minimise and prevent entry into care through intensive, solution-focussed interventions, safely preventing entry into care.
  • Improve adoptive and fostering placement services through sharing the design of their adoption, fostering, and/or post-Special Guardianship Order support services, including strengths-based fostering, and reviewing placement sufficiency.
  • Audit and preparation for Ofsted inspections through understanding the quality of practice from effective case file auditing, improving management information, delivering effective performance management review, and sharing approaches to self-evaluation.
  • Whole service diagnostics and deep dives using their diagnostic tools, they will review the quality of practice, leading on to bespoke learning and practice workshops for the authority’s staff.
  • Commission outcomes-based services learning how their commissioners effectively design and deliver a tendering process, which delivers the improved outcomes for children, based on extensive experience of delivering major projects.
  • Provide corporate support services that enable social work practice to flourish gaining insights from their human resources, ICT, financial planning, policy development business partners, into how they support practice; and the Essex Social Care Academy.

Essex are committed to supporting authorities in the Eastern region of England and the South West.

Other Partners in Practice