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National guidance for child protection committees undertaking learning reviews

Guidance to support child protection committees to reflect, learn and improve child protection systems and practice when a child or young person dies, is significantly harmed, or was at risk of death or significant harm or where effective practice has prevented harm or risk of harm.

National guidance for child protection committees undertaking learning reviews
Annex 5: Learning Review Team – attributes, skills, experience and knowledge

Annex 5: Learning Review Team – attributes, skills, experience and knowledge

Supplementary Guidance for Child Protection Committees

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Context

The Purpose of the Supplementary Guidance

Structure of the Supplementary Guidance

2. Attributes

3. Skills

4. Experience and knowledge

Acknowledgments

1. Introduction

Context

This Supplementary Guidance is primarily for use by members of Child Protection Committees and sits alongside the National Guidance for Child Protection Committees Undertaking Learning Reviews, which details the different roles within a Learning Review Team:

  • the Chair
  • team Members
  • the Reviewer(s)
  • the Administrator

The Child Protection Systems Review considered challenges around the skills and competencies of reviewers and recommended that:

“A set of National Standards should be developed setting out the skills and competences required of those reviewers (…)” (Recommendation 9)

This recommendation was accepted by the Scottish Government in March 2017 as part of the broader Child Protection Improvement Programme and has informed the development of this Supplementary Guidance.

The Purpose of the Supplementary Guidance

This Supplementary Guidance is intended to support the local processes of appointing and, where suitable, training and coaching Chairs, Team Members, Reviewers and Administrators for Learning Reviews. It supports Child Protection Committees and Chief Officers Groups by enabling:

  • multi-agency partnership to better understand the attributes, skills and areas of knowledge of those who form a Learning Review Team, which may be required to effectively undertake Learning Reviews
  • learning Review Teams to better understand the attributes, skills and areas of knowledge they may need to hold and/or develop

The attributes, skills and areas of knowledge outlined are applicable across different review methodologies and approaches.

This document aims to provide guidance to support Child Protection Committees and Chief Officers Groups and is not intended to be seen as a list of mandatory requirements. It is acknowledged that Reviews will differ and therefore requirements of Learning Review Teams will vary in different circumstances.

The process for selecting a Learning Review Team will be dependent on local arrangements, circumstances of the Review and the requirements of the Child Protection Committees and Chief Officers Groups.

Structure of the Supplementary Guidance

The profile of Learning Review Team has been organised under three main headings:

  • attributes – the personal qualities that may be required by Learning Review Teams (Section 2)
  • skills – the abilities and expertise that may be required by Learning Review Teams (Section 3)
  • experience and knowledge – the professional and practice experience and knowledge that may be required by Learning Review Teams (see Section 4)

2. Attributes

This section sets out the personal qualities or attributes that may be required by those who are part of a Learning Review Team. These are supported by:

  • examples of descriptors for each set of attributes, illustrating what a person with those attributes may say or do
  • an indication of whether the attributes are of particular relevance to specific roles within a Learning Review Team – Chair, Team Member, Reviewer or Administrator

This has been set out to support local decision-making and professional judgement. The specific attributes required, as well as their descriptors, will be dependent upon the nature of the Learning Review and the requirement of the Child Protection Committee.

Attributes: Examples of descriptors: Applicable to:
Honest, fair, objective and open minded
  • Is non-judgemental of individuals’ and organisations’ involvement in the case, with the focus on understanding the learning that can be taken from the case as a whole;
  • Supports contributors to be open, honest and non-protective in presenting and discussing their own organisation’s involvement with the case;
  • Avoids hindsight bias so that reflections on policies, procedures, actions and experiences are at the time of the incident, and do not reflect on what is now known.
  • Everyone
Empathetic and calm manner
  • Is sensitive to and empathetic of contributors’ emotions, noting that contributors can be confused, angry, emotionally fragile, worried and/or in need of support;
  • Remains mindful that, in a Review, some contributors might feel more ‘under the spotlight’ than others and, hence, supports their participation in a safe manner;
  • Brings a calm manner, reassurance and open approach to communication, paying attention to the ‘power of words’;
  • Identifies and makes contributors aware of wellbeing and counselling services that are available to them;
  • Maintains the confidentiality of the evidence throughout.
  • Everyone
Respectful and collaborative
  • Is open to learning and recognise that no single individual will know everything about the case. Establishing a full picture of the situation requires trusting, listening to and learning from the information and views of all contributors;
  • Respects and values all contributors.
· Everyone
Methodical and rigorous
  • Is systematic in requesting, collating and checking information required to build full case picture.
· Everyone
Attention to detail
  • Cross-checks information across different sources for building the full case picture;
  • Identifies gaps or deficiencies in the information available to the Review.
· Everyone
Flexible
  • Makes and/or supports adjustments throughout the Learning Review to ensure that the purpose of the Review and the underpinning principles and values are followed.
  • Everyone

3. Skills

This section sets out the skills and abilities that may be required by those who are part of a Learning Review Team. These are supported by:

  • examples of descriptors for each set of skills/abilities, illustrating what a person with those skills/abilities may say or do
  • an indication of whether the skills/abilities are of particular relevance to specific roles within a Learning Review Team – Chair, Team Member, Reviewer or Administrator

This has been set out to support local decision-making and professional judgement. The specific skills and abilities required, as well as their descriptors, will be dependent upon the nature of the Learning Review and the requirement of the Child Protection Committee.

Skills/abilities: Examples of descriptors: Applicable to:
Leadership skills
  • Leads planning, delivery and completion of the Learning Review;
  • Coordinates the identification and engagement of the relevant partners and suitable contributors to the Learning Review (e.g. professionals who have the appropriate knowledge, skills and attributes, senior managers, participants who can contribute and/or benefit from being involved in the Learning Review);
  • Coordinates the distribution of roles and responsibilities of Learning Review partners and contributors, where this has been agreed by CPC;
  • Coordinates the drafting of the Terms of Reference and/or agreed ways of working for the Learning Review process, where this has been agreed by CPC.
  • Chair
  • Ensures that the underpinning principles and values governing Learning Reviews in Scotland are followed throughout the Review (e.g. is guided by the underpinning principles and values in using an appropriate degree of flexibility and ensuring that the Review remains proportionate, inclusive and collective, with a systems approach and focused on learning; reiterates the underpinning principles and values at various times during the Review process, assertively bringing them to the forefront, where needed).
  • Chair
  • Reviewer
Planning and organisational skills
  • Ensures that a clear and realistic timetable for the Learning Review process is set out and makes suitable adjustments, where needed (e.g. amending the Review timetable to allow additional information to be provided);
  • Ensures timely requests made for key documentation relevant to the Review from organisations involved (e.g. practitioner case notes, organisational policies, procedures etc.) and follows up with organisations where information is not provided;
  • Ensures timely circulation of key documentation in advance of Review meetings;
  • Manages and prioritises different work demands so that sufficient time is allocated to the Review.
  • Chair
  • Everyone
Facilitation and interpersonal skills
  • Helps contributors to enter the Review process feeling informed and supported (e.g. provides adequate information, including about the supports available; remains open for further clarifications etc.);
  • Helps family members feel supported and maintains a relationship with them, while managing the boundaries and responsibilities of this task (particularly relevant for those liaising with the family);
  • Works well in a group setting.
  • Everyone
  • Discusses and debates with others in an objective, non-judgemental and transparent manner, demonstrating that they have no ‘hidden agenda’ (e.g. openly shares their own thoughts and understanding of the case, tests key ideas with the Review Team).
  • Chair
  • Team Member
  • Reviewer
Facilitation and interpersonal skills
  • Establishes effective relationships with participants, noting that they will come with differing levels of status, expertise, experience and education;
  • Effectively facilitates group work and manages complex group dynamics (is able to assess, react and change).
  • Facilitates practitioner and manager events so that:
    • Participants understand the purpose of the Review, as well as the underpinning principles and values of Learning Reviews;
    • Trust is established between participants;
    • All participants can voice their views in a safe manner;
    • Discussion, debate, probing and constructive challenge are encouraged;
    • Meetings remain focused on the core purpose of the Review;
  • By establishing their independence from any operational management responsibilities or decision-making in relation to the case under review, asks challenging but constructive questions;
  • Puts participants at ease and encourages them to openly and honestly express their views and reflect on their involvement in the case;
  • Uses a range of participatory and creative approaches to obtain the views and experiences of children, young people and parents/carers and practitioners in a safe manner.
  • Reviewer
  • Effectively chairs and facilitates Review meetings (is able to assess, react and change).
  • Chair
Active and reflective listening skills
  • Shows interest in and empathy with the views expressed by others. Is respectful of the views expressed by others;
  • Seeks to understand the idea expressed by the other person, then relays the idea back, to confirm that it has been understood correctly;
  • Remembers what others said and builds on their contributions.
  • Everyone
Analytical skills
  • Reviews and assesses all information available (events/consultations/meetings minutes, practitioner case notes, organisational policies, procedures etc.) to develop a full and multi-faceted understanding of the case;
  • Identifies gaps or deficiencies in the information available to the Learning Review;
  • Is able to undertake own research, where there is a knowledge gap; Learning Review Team are not expected to know everything, but they are expected to know where to seek and how to review evidence;
  • Verifies information presented through cross-checking of information against other sources, in order to understand the multiple lenses of the case (e.g. whether facts and explanations provided are aligning and complementing one another, addresses contradictory perspectives etc.);
  • Interprets and analyses the workings and shortcomings of complex, multi-agency systems (e.g. taking into account policies and procedures, resources, staffing levels etc.);
  • Elicits and analyses information from a learning and child-centred perspective, looking at the wider impacts for practice and service delivery (e.g. going beyond the identified challenges and understanding what had caused them, the systems’ implications and needed improvements);
  • Makes sound judgements based on the information collected and analysed during the Learning Review, through logical thinking and a culture of collaborative problem solving.
  • Reviewer
  • Team Member
  • Chair
Communication skills (written and oral)
  • Is able to communicate with multiple audiences (e.g. children, young people, families, practitioners, senior managers and Chief Officers Group, as appropriate) about the Review purpose, process, timetable and outcomes, in a clear and accessible manner. This may require:
    • Adopting different communication methods with specific groupings;
    • Providing updates throughout the Review process.
  • Reviewer
  • Chair
  • Conveys complex issues in a concise, well-structured and accessible manner, using plain English, listen wherever possible, so that multiple audiences (the family, practitioners, senior managers, elected members and the public) can understand the findings and learnings. The clarity is required in both written and verbal communication. The objective should be to draft the report so that it can be published;
  • Uses a neutral tone in the report, with a focus on learning, not blaming;
  • Balances the importance of providing detailed (but confidential) insight to the case with the learning that can be taken from it;
  • Focuses on communicating key points of learning from the case.
  • Reviewer
  • Recognises and responds to non-verbal signs from others (e.g. body language, tone of voice etc.);
  • Adapts and changes their communication styles where appropriate (for example, from a sensitive and listening style to a more assertive and challenging style where appropriate – where trust is achieved and probing and constructive challenge can be used).
  • Everyone

4. Experience and knowledge

This section sets out the professional and practice experience and knowledge that may be required by those who are part of a Learning Review Team. These are supported by:

  • examples of descriptors illustrating what a person who has that area of experience and knowledge may say or do
  • an indication of whether the area of experience and knowledge is of particular relevance to specific roles within a Learning Review Team – Chair, Team Member, Reviewer or Administrator

This has been set out to support local decision-making and professional judgement. The specific experience and knowledge required, as well as their descriptors, will be dependent upon the nature of the Learning Review and the requirement of the Child Protection Committee.

Experience and knowledge: Examples of descriptors: Applicable to:
Systems insight
  • Understands and can interrogate the workings of the whole system around the child/family, including relevant single-agency and multi-agency procedures;
  • Understands how organisations and systems influence and impact on how individuals operate;
  • Knows where, and from whom, to get specific information and expertise in order to build a comprehensive understanding of the system;
  • Has a good understanding of the differences in the terminology used by various agencies.
  • Reviewer
  • Chair
  • Team Member
Review methodologies
  • Is knowledgeable and understands methodologies and approaches for undertaking Reviews.
  • Reviewer
Adult learning and group facilitation
  • Has experience of facilitating active engagement within a group setting;
  • Understands group processes and dynamics and has experience of helping people to explore, reflect and learn;
  • Understands how to build on what participants and contributors have experienced and learnt in the past.
  • Reviewer
Child Protection system(s) experience
  • Has recent experience and understanding of child protection practice, processes and procedures in Scotland, including the National Guidance for Child Protection Committees Undertaking Learning Reviews (Scottish Government, 2020) and specific legal processes and requirements;
  • Has experience and understanding of child protection organisational arrangements – both multi-agency working arrangements and internal organisational structures;
  • Has experience and understanding of the complexity of communication, collaboration and cooperation within multi-agency child protection practice and policy.
  • Reviewer
  • Chair
Child development theory knowledge
  • Has up to date knowledge of child developmental theory and research.
  • Reviewer
Related services knowledge
  • Understands the role, practice and impact of services connected to child protection, e.g. social work, health, education, adult services, criminal justice, addictions or domestic violence.
  • Reviewer
  • Team Member
  • Chair
Legal and policy systems knowledge
  • Understands relevant legislation and policy within the Scottish context;
  • Differentiates between Learning Review remit and task as opposed to criminal or negligence proceedings;
  • Understands roles, responsibilities and governance of Learning Review processes as set out in national and local guidance;
  • Considers rules of evidence and is able to manage the Learning Review process where criminal proceedings also taking place using the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) Protocol (Annex 2 of the National Guidance for Child Protection Committees Undertaking Learning Reviews).
  • Chair
  • Reviewer
  • Team Member
Report writing
  • Has experience of writing comprehensive reports in a concise, well-structured and accessible manner, allowing the findings and learnings to be understood by multiple audiences.
  • Reviewer

Acknowledgments

Consistent with the aspiration to build a learning culture, the process of developing this Supplementary Guidance has sought to learn from the experience of individuals involved in Reviews and previous work undertaken into reviewer skills needs. Specifically, the process has involved the following two elements:

  • a desk-based review of guidance, evaluation and other relevant documentation to identify key skills and competences required of reviewers. This included learning from the experience of different Review models in the UK and internationally
  • in-depth discussions with individuals who have direct and multiple experiences of Reviews to capture their opinions on what skills and competencies are required

We would like to acknowledge our thanks for the invaluable input and in depth participation that informed the development of this supplementary guidance to: Alan Small, Alexander McTier, Anne Houston, Anne Neilson, Barbara Firth, Caren McLean, Colin Anderson, Fiona Miele, Louise Ward, Mihaela Manole, Moira McKinnon, Safaa Baxter, Sharon Glasgow, Sharon Robertson and Viv Boyle.


Contact

Email: Child_Protection@gov.scot