The government has published a model format for serious case review executive summaries as part of its revised version of Working Together to Safeguard Children.
The format guidance, which is not statutory, suggests executive summaries should include the action plan and recommendations from the SCR.
The report said: “Executive summaries should be produced according to the following outline format although the precise format will depend on the features of the case.”
The guidance follows ongoing controversy surrounding whether serious case reviews should be published in full. This was particularly acute following the Edlington case when the published executive summary of the SCR was challenged as being neither transparent enough nor helpful in allowing others to learn from the case.
Sir Paul Ennals, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said full publication would serve no purpose to the community.
“There’s much too much attention being given to SCRs,” he told Community Care. “I think the most recent revision is fine, but I wish people would move away from the issue of publication, which is only important to the media and politicians. People need to be reminded about the purpose of SCRs, which is that local authorities need to learn from them.”
Confusingly, this is the second time the Department for Children, Schools and Families has revised the SCR guidance in the last four months with guidance issued in December last year recommending action plans be included.
However, the new guidance, published yesterday as part of a complete revision of the Working Together document, goes further. It calls for:
• an introduction which summarises the circumstance leading to the SCR and the process followed by the review. This should be appropriately anonymised and sensitive to the child and familiy
• key issues or themes listed and key decisions highlighted
• opportunities for early intervention, where they existed
• relevant parallel processes that are being, or have been conducted, and how they have interrelated with the processes followed by the review
• the extent to which the family have been involved in the review
• a list of lessons learned and examples of good practice as well as being clear where improvement is needed.