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Quality Assurance

In line with Section 14 of the Children’s Act 2004, the safeguarding partners have a duty to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of what is done by partners individually and collectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and advise on ways in which practice improvements can be made to improve outcomes for children and young people.

In Sandwell, this function is overseen by the Quality of Practice, Performance and Assurance (QPPA) subgroup. The focus and remit of the subgroup is to gain assurance of effective multi agency safeguarding arrangements across the partnership in a variety of ways. It aims to identify and celebrate good practice, areas for improvement and to assess the robustness of joint working across partner agencies.

The QPPA subgroup is accountable to and reports to the SCSP Board. It is chaired by the independent scrutineer and its’ core membership is made up from senior representatives from partner agencies.

Functions of the QPPA subgroup

The QPPA subgroup conducts a range of assurance activities as part of its’ remit to examine the effectiveness of multi agency safeguarding arrangements, including the following:

  • Co-ordination of the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) to facilitate continuous multi agency learning
  • Gain a broad oversight of multi agency safeguarding practice via a performance dataset
  • Co-ordinate audit activity on a single and multi agency basis, which includes Multi Agency Case File Audits (MACFAs), which are completed each quarter to gain a window on the system regarding themes linked to the SCSP’s priorities, emerging themes and learning from other workstreams, such as CSPRs
  • Co-ordinate the bi annual Section 11 self assessment tool to scrutinise safeguarding arrangements across the partnership, and the annual Section 157/175 audit for Education providers which is managed in the Education Directorate
  • Evaluate how the voice of the child is incorporated into all aspects of multi agency work and informs service delivery
  • Evaluate progress in delivery and impact linked to the SCSP’s priority areas
  • Identify and highlight areas of good practice as well as where multi agency performance needs to improve

The role of the QPPA subgroup is to gain assurance that the quality of multi-agency work being undertaken with children and families is effective and of a consistently good quality throughout Sandwell, and that robust multi agency safeguarding arrangements are in place.

This is underpinned by the Quality Assurance Framework (QAF), which sets out a robust process for assessing the quality of the work undertaken with children and families. It outlines key assurance activities for the QPPA Sub Group and the expectations of partner agencies in assuring the SCSP that single and multi-agency work in Sandwell is effective in improving the lives of children and young people. The QAF is used to drive improvements in training, practice, policies and procedures and provides the underpinning structure to measure and gain assurance of this.

The QPPA subgroup has devised and agreed an outcomes based version of the Quality Assurance Framework, which was approved in May 2022. This will be underpinned by an implementation plan aligned to the SCSP priorities which will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on all organisations and individuals who work with children in Sandwell to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Completion of the Section 11 self assessment is a statutory requirement and is carried out every 2 years.

The Section 11 self assessment is a comprehensive document, which requires agencies to self score and provide evidence that they have appropriate and effective arrangements in place on the following standards:

  • Leadership and Accountability
  • Use of policies and procedures to safeguard children
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Staff induction, training and development
  • Complaints, allegations and whistleblowing
  • Information Sharing, communication and confidentiality
  • Listening to children and young people

Evidence is also required, where applicable, regarding the impact on outcomes for children and young people.

The Section 11 self assessment period was active in Sandwell between October 2021 and January 2022, with 100% compliance from all partner agencies tasked with completing the return. Initial headlines were presented to the QPPA subgroup in March 2021, with the final report scheduled for completion in June 2022.

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