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Learning from audits

A key function of the WSCB is to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of what is done by the Local Authority and partners individually and collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and to advise them on ways to improve. The statutory functions of local safeguarding boards are set out in the   Local Safeguarding Children Boards Regulations (2006) and published in the HM Government Statutory Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015).

The purpose of auditing as part of a wider quality assurance process is to improve practice and the quality of the service we provide, with the intention of improving outcomes for children and young people through a process of continuous learning.

WSCB Audit Framework

The purpose of the Audit Framework is to support and strengthen the WSCB’s understanding of the impact of safeguarding practice and services on improving the outcomes for children and young people in Wirral. The focus is on exploring the impact of the work undertaken by Board partners, both jointly and on a multi-agency basis, and also individually in the form of services provided by each of those agencies. Crucially the framework will support a cycle of continuous learning and improvement.

View the full multi-agency audit framework below:

Multi-Agency Audit Cycle

Every year the WSCB undertakes a series of audits and reviews as part of its wider quality assurance function as described in the Operating Framework and the Learning and Improvement Framework. In terms of auditing the WSCB completes two significant annual activities:

  • The Section 11/175 audits. These are self assessment audits completed to provide assurance to the WSCB that agencies are meeting their duties and responsibilities under Section 11 of the children act. The audits include action plans and are followed up with accountability meetings for statutory partners
  • Multi-agency audits. The WSCB completes 4-6 multi-agency audits each year as part of the function of the Performance Committee and a number of additional multi-agency audits as directed by themes highlighted at the Board and other safeguarding forums.

WSCB Performance Committee

Multi-agency audits are overseen by the WSCB Performance Committee which exists as the primary auditing group of the safeguarding board. The Committee established the annual audit plan which is informed by requests from the WSCB (and scrutiny of the performance dataset), local reviews, priorities and identified concerns about practice or need to understand the impact of a recent policy, procedure or change in practice.

The committee is chaired by a WSCB member and includes participation from statutory and non statutory partners. Each member of the committee is responsible for ensuring agency compliance in the audit   process.

The multi-agency audit cycle is illustrated in the diagram below. The purpose of the audit cycle is to ensure that learning from audits is disseminated and understood by the children’s workforce.

The committee agree an annual audit calendar which is informed by national and local themes including subjects raised at the Board and at other safeguarding forums.
Repeat audits are also undertaken as part of the cycle to measure year on year improvements and change.

Guidance for auditors and moderators

The WSCB has published a guidance document for auditors and moderators to support the multi-agency audit function.

Audits undertaken in 2017/18 – 2018/19

The WSCB Performance Committee has undertaken 4 multi-agency audits in 2017/18, and there are a further 5 planned for 2018/19.

Learning from each audit is presented in the posters embedded below.
(click to enlarge and download)

  • Domestic Abuse
  • Quality of Children Looked After (CLA) Plans
  • Application of Thresholds
  • Neglect & Use of the Graded Care Profile
  • Quality of Child Protection (CP) Plans
  • Quality of Child in Need (CiN) Plans
  • Quality of Team Around the Family (TAF) Plans
    (September 2018)
  • The Use of Multi-Agency Escalation
    (November 2018)
  • Theme tbc
    (January 2019)

Section 11 and Section 175 audits

The WSCB is the key statutory body for co-ordinating and ensuring the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in Wirral. It is the duty of the WSCB to hold agencies to account in terms of their safeguarding arrangements and practices.

The WSCB uses a variety of ways to test the strength of safeguarding arrangements across agencies in Wirral but one of the key ways is by the use of an annual safeguarding audit called the Section 11 Audit (for agencies) and a Section 175 Audit (for schools and colleges).

Last year, the Section 11 audit was completed online for the second time. Following feedback from agencies, the WSCB developed 4 variations of the two core audits (Section 11 and Section 175) to ensure that the questions were meaningful and appropriate for all organisations. These audits include versions for; Alternative Education Providers, Care Homes, Early Years Providers and Health providers.

In 2015/1696% of organisations who completed the audit met or exceeded the target grade (grade 3) and 4% (6 organisations) did not meet the target. The WSCB analysed these audits and found that 5 agencies had scored their answers lower than their evidence suggested. For example questions were graded as Grade 2 however their written response and attached evidence supported the standard fully (Grade 4).

In 2016/17, 99% of organisations who completed the audit achieved an overall grade of 2 (highest possible grade). There were 2 agencies who did not achieve grade 2 and their identified weaknesses were: Safeguarding procedures, Safeguarding training, Managing allegations, Voice of children and young people. The WSCB met with these agencies and provided support with progressing their actions and offered multi-agency training.

The WSCB also held accountability meetings for all statutory agencies to  present the findings from their audit and to discuss their safeguarding priorities for the year ahead. The meetings were facilitated by multi-agency professionals who provided advice and challenge to each agency.

Some of the priorities identified by agencies were:

  • Introducing a  new process to ensure that new staff have access to IT facilities, policies and procedures and an induction within 5 days.
  • Ensuring that the voice of the child is captured throughout assessments, plans and decisions
  • Ensuring that all staff receive an annual appraisal
  • Developing a new model to promote staff engagement and robust and reflective supervision
  • To ensure that all staff engage with the Supporting Families Enhancing Futures (SFEF) model
  • To improve staff awareness of thresholds
  • Encourage staff to complete e-learning courses and to attend multi-agency training

The Section 11 extract from the Annual Report can be downloaded below:

The WSCB CE and Missing Committee has agreed a series of quarterly multi-agency audits to scrutinise the response to CSE across the partnership.

The learning from recent audits is presented in the posters below.

  • June 2017                                                                       
  • September 2017
  • March 2018
  • April 2018
  • July 2018
  • October 2018
  • December 2018
  • February 2018

The WSCB Virtual Frontline Practitioner Group has an annual work plan to undertake questionnaire’s and audits based on a number of key themes identified by the WSCB and members of the group. The group was formed in response to the Ofsted improvement plan recommendation to ensure that the voice of frontline practitioners is heard and informs the work of the WSCB.

Click Here to find out more about the group including key findings and learning.