Agenda item

Items Raised by Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children Partnership - Update on the Serious Case Review (SCR): Sam and Kyle - Action Plan


Priscilla Bruce-Annan gave the following update:


  • The LSCP was working on new and creative ways of sharing learning from SCR which could be videos or podcasts to combine the learning from the three reviews to disseminate that learning. Briefings on a page was also considered to give a quick snapshot of immediate learning. These would be shared across partnerships and practitioners.
  • Jane Foster-Taylor who was the Head Nurse for Thurrock CCG had recently retired and was now replaced by Steven Mayo in the interim. Safeguarding children remained at the top of their list.
  • In the LSCP, one staff member had left and the peer review would look into the role and responsibilities of the business team to see how the post could be filled and to ensure that the team had the capabilities to drive forward the action plans and the work within these as well as ensuring that the team had the capability to deliver the day-to-day operational work.


Priscilla Bruce-Annan went on to present the report on pages 17 – 24.


The Chair sought clarification on whether the green actions would remain on the action plan and monitored. Priscilla Bruce-Annan confirmed that these would remain and be monitored and form a part of the service’s everyday work.


Councillor Muldowney said that it was tragic when a child died and prompted a SCR. She noted that from Sam’s death in January 2018, it took a long time for the SCR to be published and people were concerned about the length of time it had taken for the action plan to be formed and that it was now 6 months since the report had been published. She said that people felt no action was being taken and that there was anxiety amongst parents in general safeguarding concerns. She thought that not a lot of action points had been accomplished and pointed out that action point 5 only required that a date be set for training which was done. She queried how an action could be completed with the setting of a date and how this would be tracked to ensure that the training took place and how that learning would be embedded. She also asked whether the training would come back in the action plan.


In response, Priscilla Bruce-Annan noted the concerns raised. On action point 5 that was in regards to Signs of Safety and Graded Care Profile training, she said that the date had been set and publicised. Agencies were booking onto that training date and following on from that, a whole suite of training sessions would take place which would be tracked and monitored. It would start with an awareness session for practitioners that wanted more information on Graded Care Profiles and there were different levels of sessions for different practitioners. The learning from the training would be embedded into the work of the LSCP and put into practice across the partnership. She said that a report on training attendance and the content delivered in training could be brought back to Committee for scrutiny. She went on to say that training courses had pre and post-delivery evaluations and follow up evaluations that tracked what practitioners felt they had gained from the training. The service also assessed whether the training had changed any practices.


Councillor Muldowney noted Priscilla Bruce-Annan’s points on capacity in the team earlier and questioned whether the reduction of one staff member in the business team would cause further delays to the action plan. Priscilla Bruce-Annan explained that her earlier point referred to her post being vacant and although there had been someone covering the post during that time, it was not fully filled as the person was juggling two jobs. She highlighted that the person had done a fantastic job and that she was now the dedicated person filling the role and leading the team. She reassured the Committee that she would ensure that the action plan would progress along and be quickly embedded into practice.


Councillor Muldowney noted that this action plan and the LSCP Peer Review Action Plan was connected and was pleased to see these on the same Agenda. She felt that both action plans had similar issues identified and thought this showed that practices had not been embedded and commented that it seemed like the LSCP was at a ‘beginning stage’ with the two action plans. She also raised concerns on families that may have fallen into problem situations that the service did not know about and questioned whether children were falling through the net. Priscilla Bruce-Annan answered that there were some new practices and learning to be developed as a result of the SCR review. She said that the LSCP was not at the start of the action plan as some actions had already begun and just needed to be moved forward or developed further to ensure these were embedded and that awareness was raised right.


Referring to Councillor Muldowney’s earlier concerns about the length of time the SCR had taken, Sheila Murphy said that the SCR needed to be agreed by the three statutory partners and not just one. The SCR was independently undertaken and it was not within the gift of the partnership to set a time period as a thorough investigation needed to be undertaken. The partnership had looked into how the review could be undertaken more effectively and quicker yet ensure it was done thoroughly.  In regards to children falling through the net, Sheila Murphy stated that the Council’s Children’s Social Care service was not closed and that referrals were still coming into the service. Staff were on duty and ready to act on those referrals and social workers were physically visiting families every day. She went on to say that she met with school head teachers weekly and although children were not in schools who were a source of referrals, schools were visiting families where there were vulnerabilities and making phone calls and where required referrals to children’s social care. Schools also offered online learning as they were not closed. The service continued to look after the Council’s looked after children as well children on protection plans and children in need.


Councillor Muldowney was pleased to hear that the Council’s Children’s Social Care service was still accessible. She asked whether all action points were delayed apart from 3.2 which was green. She queried whether the colour blue was used in the RAG rating. She also sought clarification on action point 1.1. She also raised concerns where the SCR report in July 2020 had highlighted that concerns had not been escalated. Priscilla Bruce-Annan explained that an amber rating meant that the action was in progress alongside the delivery timeline; red meant that the action had not started yet and green meant that the action had been completed and needed to be embedded. She said that blue could be used for when actions were embedded. In terms of action point 1.1, she said that the action had been completed and feedback from organisations had been received in regards to how they would ensure that their practitioners would understand the escalation policy. The next action down had also been completed which involved agencies feedback on implementation and how they would share their areas of good practice.


Sheila Murphy added that the LSCP independent review highlighted that the LSCP had always had an escalation policy and the review found that some of the agencies had concerns that they were not being heard as they had not been using the escalation policy appropriately. One of the recommendations was to ensure understanding of the policy which the agencies had agreed to and the review had questioned why agencies had not used the policy to make their concerns known. The action taken on this was to ensure that agencies would feedback on how they would use the policy instead of just sending the policy out again and to give the LSCP reassurance that agencies would raise concerns in line with the policy. All agencies should understand the policy now and the LSCP should see some of those escalations which would be monitored if the escalation came to the strategic partners. She said that the appropriate use of the escalation policy would be raised in training programmes and also thresholds as not all agencies understood where the responsibilities lay with which agencies and the escalation policy needed to be highlighted here. The LSCP had also updated their thresholds document and sent out to partners which was agreed as a partnership. She highlighted that this was not done out of the review but was to ensure that the partnership was clear on the thresholds.


Councillor Muldowney sought clarification on when the action plan would be completed and embedded. Priscilla Bruce-Annan answered that the action plan had begun before she had been in post and that the aim was to complete and embed the actions by the end of the calendar year.


Referring to Sheila Murphy’s earlier comments on the position of schools, Malcolm Taylor reassured the Committee that the service continued to monitor children who had social workers or was on an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) and Safeguarding Leads continued their monitoring too as well as sending the service a fortnightly return data. Schools continued daily contact with those children to ensure their safeguarding welfare and would report any concerns directly to children’s services if they were concerned.


Adding to this, Joe Tynan said that the sharing of information about vulnerable children between social care and education was good as there were regular meetings that Officers attended and reassured the Committee that children were safeguarded every day. In regards to escalations, he said that conversations about cases between partner agencies were being held earlier and that audit processes were being looked at to make these more creative so showed that there was a good partnership working. He highlighted that the Signs of Safety training had been going on for a while before the review and that the MASH Strategic Board had been in place for about two years and would be coming into the LSCP. Learning was constantly looked at and the outcome for a child and practices were always looked at to see what could be done better to give children the best support and service.


Councillor Muldowney noted earlier comments that Covid-19 had caused some delays to the action plan and she asked for examples of this and how this would be addressed going forward. Priscilla Bruce-Annan said that the service had changed the ways that they were working and had adapted to these changes such as virtual meetings which was working well. With the current lockdown situation, different working patterns had also been well embedded in order to meet the needs of the service. Sheila Murphy added that some staff in health services had been diverted elsewhere to support other health services during the pandemic. Agencies had also had staffing levels affected due to some staff going into self-isolation. In this current lockdown, the service had been assured by health colleagues that where possible, health staff in Children’s Services would not be moved to support other health services during the pandemic so the health services was ensuring that children were prioritised.


The Chair asked that the action plan be returned to Committee at the start of the new municipal year.




1.1       That the Committee acknowledged the progress to date against the Action Plan.


1.2       That the Committee provided oversight and challenge to ensure the actions are having impact across the agencies.


Supporting documents: