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3.1 Learning and Improvement Framework


This chapter covers the requirements within chapter 4 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015, which describes the way that practitioners and organisations protecting children need to reflect on the quality of their services and learn from their own practice and that of others. It explains the requirements for an integrated local learning and improvement framework.


  1. Learning and Improvement Framework
  2. Purpose of Local Framework
  3. Learning Framework of the Dorset LSCB and Bournemouth and Poole LSCB
  4. Improvement Framework of the Dorset LSCB and Bournemouth and Poole LSCB
  5. Principles for a Culture of Continuous Improvement

    Amendments to this Chapter

1. Learning and Improvement Framework

Working Together 2015 requires that the Local Safeguarding Children Boards maintain a shared local Learning and Improvement Framework across those local organisations working with children and families.

Dorset Safeguarding Children Board and the Bournemouth and Poole Local Safeguarding Children Board are committed to ensuring there are a full range of reviews and audits with action plans reported, implemented and monitored though the Boards.

2. Purpose of Local Framework

The aim of this framework is to enable local organisations to improve services through being clear about their responsibilities to learn from experience and particularly through the provision of insights into the way organisations work together to safeguard and protect the welfare of children.

The framework is shared across all agencies that work with families and children in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole. Working Together 2015 states that ‘This framework should enable organisations to be clear about their responsibilities, to learn from experience and improve services as a result’. (WT p72)

This local framework supports the work of the two LSCBs and their partners so that:

  • Reviews are conducted regularly, not only on cases which meet statutory criteria, but also on other cases which can provide useful insights into the way organisations are working together to safeguard and protect the welfare of children and that this learning is actively shared with relevant agencies;
  • Reviews look at what happened in a case, and why, and what action will be taken to learn from the review findings;
  • Action results in lasting improvements to services which safeguard and promote the welfare of children and help protect them from harm; and
  • There is transparency about the issues arising from individual cases and the actions which organisations are taking in response to them, including sharing the final reports of Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) with the public.

Reviews are not an end in themselves, but a method to identify improvements needed and to consolidate good practice. The LSCBs and partner organisations will translate the findings from reviews into programmes of action which lead to sustainable improvements.

The Local Learning and Improvement Framework will use and develop shared audit tools, processes for capturing the views of service users and a system for sharing learning with the wider workforce.

3. Learning Framework for the Dorset LSCB and Bournemouth and Poole LSCB

This local framework covers the full range of single and multi-agency reviews and audits which aim to drive improvements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The different types of review identified by Working Together 2015 include:

  • Serious Case Review (see Serious Case Reviews and Other LSCB Audits) for every case where abuse or neglect is known or suspected and either:
    • A child dies; or
    • A child is seriously harmed and there are concerns about how organisations or professionals worked together to safeguard the child.
  • Child Death Review (see Sudden Unexpected Death in Childhood) (Working Together 2015, Chapter 5): a review of all child deaths under the age of 18;
  • Review of a child protection incident which falls below the threshold for a Serious Case Review e.g. Serious Case Audit;
  • Audits against Section 11 of the Children Act 2004;
  • Review or audit of practice in one or more agencies;
  • Annual review of the use of restraint in any secure establishment within the LSCB area.

In addition the DSCB and the B&P LSCB include the following types of review, which are received by both Boards. This improves the ‘line of sight’ that Board members have to front line practice and outcomes, informs the Annual Report and allows the Board to make recommendations against findings.

  • Multi-Agency Case Audits undertaken in the pan-Dorset Quality Assurance Group and reported to both Boards (see QA sub-group terms of reference and work plans);
  • Learning from Domestic Homicide Reviews;
  • Learning from Peer Reviews undertaken by member agencies;
  • Single agency case audits reported to the LSCBs;
  • Section 175 schools audits reported to the LSCBs;
  • Analysis of performance information in relation to all aspects of safeguarding, identifying themes and areas requiring action (Performance Management Framework);
  • Analysis of data from the LSCB Core data set.

There is also learning identified in the different sub-groups of the LSCBs and reported to the Boards:

  • The Serious Case Review sub-groups undertake or commission SCRs and Serious Case Audits. The groups work together to undertake reviews of National Serious Case Reviews which provide opportunities for local learning;
  • Domestic abuse strategic groups across Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset collate analysis on the issues related to domestic abuse and its implications for services and practice;
  • Pan-Dorset CSE / Missing children / Trafficked children sub-group collates and analyses data on missing incidents and CSE to inform practice developments. The Multi-Agency CSE Intelligence Groups identifies any practice issues related to working with CSE as a standard agenda item;
  • The Pan Dorset Safeguarding Children and Young People in Health Group identify practice development and learning opportunities across health services to improve safeguarding;
  • The DSCB Online Safety and Anti-Bullying Sub-Group reports on analysis of data in these areas;
  • The B&P LSCB Safeguarding in Education Group identifies areas of learning and development in education and early years settings, including development of online safety and anti-bullying. They have developed a self-assessment audit tool used by schools to identify their own areas of development related to safeguarding.

4. Improvement Framework for the Dorset LSCB and Bournemouth and Poole LSCB

Implementation of the Learning through recommendations and action plans are undertaken by:

  • DSCB and B&P LSCB Board members are responsible for receiving reports, analysis and data and agreeing the action needed in each of their respective organisations. They retain the responsibility for implementing changes in response to improvements identified by the Board;
  • Members of sub-groups play a part involving practitioners in learning opportunities and disseminating the outcomes of audits, reviews and analysis of data and trends from the work of the Board;
  • DSCB is currently promoting a model of learning from Serious Case Reviews which requires professionals to review how they have implemented the changes recommended by an SCR and report this to the DSCB;
  • Pan Dorset Policy and Procedure sub-group agree amendments to procedure which will reflect changes in practice identified through learning;
  • Pan Dorset Strategic Training Group adapt training to reflect messages from learning and also commission specific training to respond to unmet needs identified in audit and review. The group also commissions annual SCR Training which aims to update practitioners across Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole on key local and national messages from SCRs and Serious Case Audits;
  • A joint annual LSCB Conference is run by both Boards to disseminate learning on particular topic areas;
  • A monthly newsletter is distributed by both LSCBs which aims to disseminate safeguarding messages to a wide audience of practitioners;
  • The Pan Dorset CSE / Missing Children / Trafficked Children Sub-Group run campaigns to raise public awareness of CSE and develop tools and resources to support work with young people and families;
  • Bournemouth and Poole Designated Safeguarding Lead Forum meets termly to disseminate learning and good practice around safeguarding issues. This is informed by developments in the B&P Safeguarding in Education sub-group of the LSCB;
  • The Annual Report of both Boards identifies key learning and improvements achieved by the Boards;
  • The Business Plan of both Boards identifies priorities and ‘obsessions’ for focus and scrutiny for the next year.

5. Principles for a Culture of Continuous Improvement

There should be a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the organisations that work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole, so as to identify what works and what promotes good practice.

Within this culture the principles described by Working Together 2015 are:

  • A proportionate response: According to the scale and level of complexity of the issues being examined i.e. the scale of the review is not determined by whether or not the circumstances meet statutory criteria;
  • Independence: Reviews of serious cases to be led by individuals who are independent of the case under review and of the organisations whose actions are being reviewed;
  • The child to be at the centre of the process: All learning is to be focused on improving outcomes for the child and so any audit of practice will have as their prime focus the child’s experience and the outcomes created for them, rather than compliance to process. There is value in drawing out the child and family’s experience of service provision to inform learning;
  • Offer of family involvement: Families, including surviving children, should be invited to contribute to reviews and be provided with an understanding of how this will occur, and what to expect;
  • Involvement of practitioners and clinicians: Practitioners should be fully involved in reviews and invited to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith;
  • Transparency: Achieved by publication of the final reports of Serious Case Reviews and the LSCB’s response to the findings. The LSCB annual reports will explain the impact of Serious Case Reviews and other reviews on improving services to children and families and on reducing the incidence of deaths or serious harm to children. This will also inform inspections;
  • Sustainability: Improvement must be sustained through regular monitoring and follow-up so that the findings from these reviews make a real impact on improving outcomes for children.

Amendments to this Chapter

This chapter was reviewed and updated in February 2017. There have been a number of minor amendments throughout and the chapter should be read in its entirety.