Evaluation of the Sector-led Peer Challenge Programme 2012/13

Claire Easton, Emily Lamont, Monica Hetherington, Fiona Walker, Liz Phillips

19 April 2013

Evaluation of the early adopter sector-led improvement programme pilots research report

The Children’s Improvement Board (CIB) and LGA commissioned NFER to carry out the second evaluation of the ‘sector-led peer challenge programme’. CIB was created to lead the strategic direction and development for sector-led improvement and support in children’s services. Part of this work includes the ‘sector-led peer challenge programme’, which is an integral part of the agenda. Since its inception, the peer challenge has evolved under the support and direction of CIB. Originally conceived as a centrally run system with a number of ‘early adopter’ councils, the peer challenge is now regionally led. This report presents the findings from NFER’s second evaluation of the programme. It will be of relevance to CIB, the LGA and the sector in developing this area of work.

Key Findings

  • clear progress has been made since the ‘early adopter’ programme. Some of the challenges previously reported (around funding, time, capacity and willingness to engage) appear less prominent
  • the stakeholders (lead members, chief executives, directors of children’s services, assistant directors and programme managers) involved in delivering the programme regionally report a range of benefits of the programme. These include improved service provision; mobilising early help to councils most in need; developing relationships and reinvigorating regional networks and groups; creating a culture of openness, trust, self-reflection and challenge; providing a range of professional development opportunities for a range of stakeholders and informally and formally sharing good practice outside of the peer challenge programme
  • the reported areas for development relate to the need for CIB and regions to start to evidence change; regions needing access to timely and accurate data to support their self assessment activity and that cross-regional working should be promoted.