Children's services improvement

We offer councils a wide range of support on children's services improvement – on a free-of-charge or subsidised basis.

Improving children's services

As part of our children’s services improvement offer to councils we:

  • provide nationally accredited and quality-assured courses for practitioners and associates engaging in peer reviews, challenges or diagnostic activities
  • maintain an availability register
  • run a series of Leadership Essentials courses for children's services portfolio holders
  • develop and / or broker, where need is evidenced, a flexible and responsive offer of bespoke diagnostic or peer review tools either to individual councils or as part of a regional offer or as may be commissioned by the Department for Education for authorities in intervention – these may be offered on a whole cost, subsidised or free basis.

In each region, our children's improvement advisers work with our principal advisers, along with prime associates with strategic overview, to pull together learning and advise councils on the best support.

Children's Services Peer Challenge

Our Children's Services Peer Challenge programme offers councils diagnostics on safeguarding to support them on their improvement journey. For more information please email Richard Cooke, LGA Programme Manager (Children's Services) at

Supporting political leadership in children's services

We offer councillors several products and services to support them in championing and scrutinising the delivery of children's services in their councils.

For further information on any of the offers to councillors listed below, or bespoke requests, please contact your LGA principal adviser. Our principal advisers are the focal point for our discussions with councils about their improvement needs and the support we can make available through our work with sector-owned improvement bodies at sub-national level and with colleagues supporting children's services (and adult services and health) improvement.

Training and mentoring

  • Our children's services Leadership Essentials programme provides an intensive introduction to the role of children's services portfolio holder. Sessions focus on political leadership in the current policy context, exploring the statutory role and key relationships, political leadership in a challenging environment through exploring a ‘real' case study of an authority's improvement journey, and leadership of the education agenda.
  • Mentoring – we offer to source appropriate councillor peers (who have responsibility for children's services in their council) to provide varying levels of coaching and mentoring. This can be mentoring for an existing children's services portfolio holder over a defined period, support for a newly appointed portfolio holder, or a peer to act as a ‘sounding board' to a portfolio holder on an 'as-required' basis where performance in children's services is a potential concern. We will source the best fit by liaising with our political group offices and principal advisers.
  • The Centre for Public Scrutiny provides support for councils to deliver effective scrutiny of children's services and education. 

Guides and other resources for councillors

  • Our 'must know' guides are a long-standing source of information and support for children's services portfolio holders, covering education, safeguarding, key roles and relationships, and the impact of an Ofsted judgement of 'Inadequate'.
  • The Centre for Public Scrutiny, in collaboration with the LGA, has developed a short guide that seeks to support those involved in developing and scrutinising alternative delivery models (ADMs) in children’s services to consider key issues and early experiences.
  • Our corporate parenting resource pack aims to support councils in looking after other people's children – which is one of the most important things councils do and which is the responsibility of all councillors (that is, it is not just the responsibility of the children's services portfolio holder and relevant officers).


Multi-agency inspection of child protection – a position paper from the Association of Directors of Childrens Services (ADCS), the Local Government Association, and Solace

As a result of concerns regarding the effectiveness and proportionality of the Ofsted Single Inspection Framework, we, alongside the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) and Solace, have developed an alternative, multi-agency inspection model. This model learns from the failings of the current inspection regime for children's services and seeks to place children's outcomes at its centre.

Download the inspection model

Some of these concerns were subsequently taken on board by Ofsted in the development of the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) framework, which has resulted in the inspectorate taking a more proportionate approach. For more information, access the ADCS's ILACS resource pack.

Our children's services improvement action research

The following two project reports are intended to complement one another. Together, they attempt to describe how local areas can:

  • drive and sustain improvement
  • best use external improvement support to help them in their improvement journey.

1.  Action research into improvement in local children's services

The first project, undertaken by Isos Partnership and commissioned by the LGA, sought to answer the following two central questions:

  • What are the key enablers of (and barriers to) improvement in local children’s services?
  • How can the system as a whole facilitate and support improvement in local children’s services?

Download the final report

Implications for portfolio holders and senior leaders

2. Enabling improvement 

The second report explores the following two questions:

  • What is the role of improvement support and how can it be effective in supporting the improvement journey of a local area’s children’s services?
  • What are the relative strengths and key ingredients of different models of improvement, and what are the circumstances in which each model is most likely to be effective? 

Download the final report

Useful links