Serious case reviews should look at good practice, says Munro

Serious case reviews should also look at good practice as the current system does not support a learning culture, Professor Eileen Munro said today.

The first instalment of Munro’s review of England’s children’s services found that social workers are failing to meet the needs of children because they are too focused on complying with regulations and meeting targets.

A report on serious case reviews published alongside the review said serious case reviews needed to focus more on learning and less on the review process itself. This report was written by a panel of practitioners recruited though local safeguarding children boards across England to inform Munro’s work. These practitioners said the emphasis on getting the report right was constraining and detracted from learning.

They also emphasised that serious case reviews should be set in the context of good practice and a broader spectrum of safeguarding, not just the severe end of the spectrum and when things go wrong.

The panel came to the conclusion that the system of national seroius case review analysis needed to be revised. One suggestion was for a research team to be commissioned for a longer period of at least five years to provide an observatory function on all SCRs.

“This research team would have responsibility for annual reporting of the numbers, patterns and key learning from serious case reviews,” the report said.

Munro also expressed concern about the integrated children’s system in her first report. Her research found that local authority IT equipment was of variable quality and software varied in terms of stability and flexibility. The review also said forms embedded within ICS “actively disrupted” social workers’ ability to tell the story of a case.

While she did not present a solution to funding issues, Munro acknowledged the “significant financial costs” to some local authorities in seeking help from suppliers to modify the system.

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