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Learning into Practice

Project start date: January 2015

We (NSPCC and SCIE) were awarded £1.2m to deliver the Learning into Practice Project (LiPP) to develop and test a set of mechanisms to enable better use of learning from serious case reviews (SCRs), and to improve the quality of SCRs, including through a pilot project involving the central commissioning of SCRs.

Project Summary


SCRs are conducted when a child dies or is seriously harmed; abuse or neglect is known or suspected, and there is cause for concern about how agencies have worked together. At present SCRs are commissioned and managed by Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs).

The starting point for the project was that SCRs have the potential to provide vital information to guide improvements to multi-agency child protection practice. However, this potential is not being fulfilled, the quality of SCRs varies, frontline practitioners are not always aware of them, and agencies do not use the learning from other areas that can come from SCRs.

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. Firstly, 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. Thirdly, 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.

The evaluation of the project demonstrated 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 Alliance was widely supported, but it was felt that the Alliance should play a role in supporting and leading practice rather than only scrutinising and judging it.

The aim of the project was to establish how the different mechanisms being tested should continue in the future. A series of Government announcements in December 2015, including proposed changes to the commissioning of SCRs, and a review of LSCBs, meant a slight refocussing of the project in its last months. The findings from the LiPP 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.  In particular the work on quality markers is of ongoing value to support the commissioning and conducting of reviews, and the work carried out on analysing learning from reviews could support future work in this area.  A link to the LiPP materials is included in the new version of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

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