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Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

Peer Learning – Family Safeguarding AD and PL Groups

Strengthening Families, Protecting Children (SFPC)

The Hertfordshire Family Safeguarding Team has been facilitating peer learning between Assistant Directors (ADs) and Practice Leads (PLs) as they work towards implementing Family Safeguarding in their local areas.

Thirteen authorities – both those in the SFPC Programme, and some implementing Family Safeguarding outside of the programme – at various stages in their implementation journeys take part in the peer learning groups, where more experienced ADs and PLs are able to share their insights with colleagues in similar roles who are just starting out. The more experienced participants benefit from connecting with others who are also embedding and sustaining Family Safeguarding.

By working with the Hertfordshire team in this sustained way, ADs and PLs can also make sure any adaptations they make over time are consistent across the country and stay true to the values and practices at the heart of the Family Safeguarding model.

The Hertfordshire team began supporting teams to adopt Family Safeguarding after connections made in the Department for Education’s (DfE) Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme and the publication of an external evaluation confirming the benefits of the model for children and families, resulted in enquiries from local authorities across the country.

As part of their support offer, Hertfordshire brought leaders and practitioners from different authorities together with their peers to create a learning community, that could provide practical and moral support through challenging times, as well as a place to share best practice and stories of progress and impact.

With the launch of the SFPC Programme, six more local authorities are adopting Family Safeguarding, and a wider network of authorities at various stages in their implementation journeys is taking shape.

Building on the success of their previous peer learning groups, the Hertfordshire team convenes 90-minute online workshops every two months for the ADs from all 13 local authorities adopting Family Safeguarding in one group, and their PLs in another. These workshops, facilitated by the SFPC Programme support partner, focus on different aspects of adopting Family Safeguarding, with the ADs group focusing on leadership challenges, while the PLs work together to share and solve problems of practice.

Issues discussed so far include working with partners and helping them understand how Family Safeguarding aligns with their priorities and enables them to meet their goals, and supporting social workers’ wellbeing as they shift to new culture and practice.

When asked what participants value about the group, they identified:

  • sharing ideas and information
  • support for reflection and learning
  • honesty – open discussion of challenges as well as solutions
  • a shared experience of networking and mutual support.

I find the group energising and I love hearing both from Herts and colleagues in other LAs about their learning and experiences.