Partners in Practice

The Department for Education’s Partners in Practice programme runs alongside the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. The Spring Consortium are hosting updates about the Partners in Practice on the Spring Consortium website on behalf of the Department for Education.

The Partners in Practice programme aims to put genuine partnership between local and national government at the heart of work to improve services, with some of the very best practitioners and leaders in the driving seat of reform for children and young people. 

DfE is working with leading local authorities as Partners in Practice to understand how local authorities get to good and what it takes to move from good to excellent; to interrogate the most important practice questions facing children’s social care; and to drive sector-led peer-to-peer improvement.

The Partners in Practice are all demonstrating excellent practice and are committed to innovation and continuous improvement. They have all delivered successful Innovation Programme projects and continue to gather and disseminate learning through the Innovation Programme learning network. They are all also actively driving sector-led improvement, particularly in authorities working to get to good.

Each of the Partners in Practice has developed a programme of work to drive continuous innovation and improvement, to build understanding of the conditions needed for excellent practice to flourish, and to support other authorities to improve. You can find out more about the individual work of the Partners in Practice below. We will update this information as the Partners in Practice work progresses.

Read the programme summary here

The Department for Education will be expanding the Partners in Practice (PiP) Programme for 2018-20. The expansion will increase the capacity of the PiP Programme to provide more improvement support to other local authorities to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. The Department will be in contact with eligible local authorities directly, inviting them to submit an expression of interest. If you have any questions about the PiP Programme and/or the expansion, please do get in touch with us via

Please see here for more details on Robert Goodwill’s, Minister for Children and Families, announcement at the National Children and Adult Services Conference 2017 regarding the Department’s sector-led improvement initiative.


Achieving for Children (Kingston and Richmond)

Achieving for Children (AfC) will increase the role of alternative delivery models in Children’s Social Care by expanding the AfC social enterprise model to up to three additional local authority areas.

As part of this expansion, AfC will implement the Signs of Safety model of practice across the company. This will create a common language around child protection, a consistency in practice over a wide geographical area and a flexible workforce capable of meeting the changes in demand that are typical across the social care landscape.

AfC will continue to support sector improvement by partnering with the DfE and other local authorities to help those who might be in intervention or at risk of failure. In addition, AfC will develop a Practice Leadership Academy to develop a pipeline of practice leaders for the sector, equipped for the challenges of working in underperforming authorities.

Alongside this work AfC will seek to reduce the numbers of children looked after in Kingston and Richmond and the numbers of children in high cost, out of borough placements. This will be achieved by increasing direct work, through the use of systemic family therapy with children and families in child protection teams and by establishing a Young People’s Resilience Service to provide focused, multi-disciplinary support for adolescents on the edge of care.

Read the full summary here


Hampshire County Council

Hampshire will build on their DfE Innovation Programme by enhancing their family interventions team (FIT) model by redesigning a wider pool of services and interventions to become multi-disciplinary and implemented across what are currently children in need, child protection and children in care teams. This will focus on supporting children and families to remain within their community networks where possible. To support the workforce they will create a local Teaching Partnership and Graduate Entry and Training scheme that invests in social workers’ development over the longer term. Hampshire will also pilot new Social Care Education Practitioners (SCEPs) who will focus on delivering excellent educational outcomes for children in multi-disciplinary social care teams.

Read the full summary here


London Borough of Islington

Islington are developing an evidence base on their Doing What Counts and Measuring What Matters model, with a view to sharing their findings and learning with the sector once the research is completed. The development and embedding of the model will focus on expanding Motivational Social Work (MSW) across children’s services and embedding MSW practice, supervision and leadership at an organisational level. They also propose working in collaboration with three other local authorities each year to roll out Islington’s endorsement by the employer framework, which may also include the delivery of MSW training and coaching.

Read the full summary here


Leeds City Council

Leeds propose redesigning and reimagining their children’s services by developing integrated intervention ‘hubs’ that bring social workers and schools together. The Restorative Early Support Team and Restorative Adolescent Service will enable a restorative approach to be taken to working with families to achieve good outcomes for children and young people.  Leeds are also developing a Centre for Excellence in Restorative Practice and Leadership. The Centre will provide expertise, innovation, research and support through face to face training, learning and development to local and wider practitioners.

Read the full summary here


Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire is building on measures to improve their safeguarding and early help practices through system innovations that will contribute to understanding excellence. Changes include embedding the Innovation Programme Signs of Safety methodology across social work policy, procedure and practice, using alternative approaches to managing risk in young people and creating a multi-disciplinary approach to improving academic outcomes and opportunities for children in care. Lincolnshire will also look at integrating the youth justice staff and delivery model into wider children’s services to enable a relationship based whole family approach wherever possible.  As part of exploring service redesign and sector improvement, Lincolnshire is also exploring the benefits of alternative delivery models that could facilitate more collaborative working.

Read the full summary here


North Yorkshire County Council

North Yorkshire are extending the methodology behind the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme No Wrong Door project to the government’s priority areas of care leavers and children and young people with mental health issues in residential schools and pupil referral units. The current and planned No Wrong Door project will operate from hubs and bring together a multi-disciplinary team including clinical psychologists, speech therapists, family workers, education and training, employment support, placement support and homelessness support. This methodology has seen an increase in adolescents remaining at home through the successful out-of-care support, with a reduction in crisis presentations and young people being remanded into custody.

To support sector improvement and workforce development North Yorkshire will be offering tailored support to other local authorities in order to enhance local performance and innovation. They will also look to further improve their own practice through implementation of reflective supervision and better use of technology to develop a single digital view of a child.

Read the full summary here



Triborough are continuing to embed their Focus on Practice programme. The programme is focused on furthering the knowledge, confidence and expertise of practitioners and managers in systemic practice, in order that they are more effective in creating changes and mobilising the strengths within families. Triborough also propose exploring the impact of case recording to ease procedural demands in key areas. To support improvement in the wider sector, they are also setting up a Centre for Systemic Social Work that will include a Practice Leader Development Programme.

Read the full summary here