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DCSF pushes for SCRs to focus on learning lessons

The Department for Children, Schools and Families today produced draft revised guidance on serious case reviews to ensure they help agencies learn the lessons from child deaths.

It follows recommendations to reform SCRs in Lord Laming’s review of child protection, published in March on the back of the baby Peter case.

The draft revised chapter 8 of Working together to safeguard children, promised in the DCSF’s response to Laming’s report, makes a number of proposed changes to existing guidance including:-

  • Clearly stating that the prime purpose of an SCR is to learn lessons both at individual and inter-agency level.
  • Emphasising the importance of SCRs being undertaken in a way that promotes learning.
  • Extending the suggested timescale for completing SCRs from four to six months.

Ofsted assessed about 40% of SCRs conducted from April 2007 to February 2009 as inadequate, including, notably, the first review into baby Peter’s death.

In our submission to the Laming review, Community Care called for SCRs to have a greater focus on learning lessons, but our call for anonymised full reports – rather than executive summaries – to be published was rejected by the government.

The DCSF also published its annual update on progress against the recommendations of the triennial report on safeguarding by the joint chief inspectors, published last July, which first identified the extensive failings in SCRs.

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