Serious case reviews (SCRs) have the potential to provide vital information to guide improvements to multi-agency child protection practice. However, the quality of SCRs varies across the country, frontline practitioners are not always aware of them and agencies do not always use the learning from SCRs in other local areas.
The Learning into Practice project developed and tested a set of mechanisms to enable better use of learning from serious case reviews and improve their quality. The project tested a proof of concept which aimed to establish what is needed on an ongoing and sustainable basis to improve the quality and use of SCRs in England.
Four workstreams were initiated as part of the innovation. Mechanisms were developed for collating and producing accessible information on practice issues and causes from SCRs. Alongside this was the establishment of a strategic alliance of national strategic and leadership bodies, to implement improvement work. A set of quality markers to support commissioning and conducting of reviews was introduced. Finally, a series of masterclasses was introduced to improve lead reviewers.
A series of Government announcements in December 2015, including proposed changes to the commissioning of SCRs and a review of local safeguarding children boards, meant a slight refocusing of the project in its last months. The findings from the project should meaningfully contribute to improvement of practice in respect to SCRs for as long as they continue, and to the changes to review arrangements which are now in the process of being implemented. A link to the Learning into Practice materials is included in the new version of Working Together to Safeguard Children.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 found that:
- Participants were largely supportive of the aims and outputs of the collation and analysis, feeling it was a valuable process to extract learning from SCRs nationally and locally.
- The strategic alliance was widely supported, and it was felt that this should play a role in supporting and leading practice rather than only scrutinising and judging it.