Commentary to "Managing performance: How the West (Midlands) will be won"
WEST MIDLANDS DATA PACK FOR SELF ASSESSMENT
All local authorities in the West Midlands took part in self-assessment as part of the regional sector led
improvement programme, to collectively understand how well we know ourselves. A full data pack,
which contains key performance information extracted from regional social care benchmarking and
national sources, was produced to support peer challenge and help triangulate each LAs self
assessment. This is an extract of that datapack, providing the commentary about performance and
Data provides not only evidence of 'how are we doing' but is the starting point for conversations and
challenges about what this evidence is telling us about our services and the impact we are making, how
we compare to others, and ultimately how can we improve and key lines of enquiry based on the data is
also provided for readers.
The full datapack benchmarked each WM LA, WM and England average and each LA latest statistical
neighbour average. In some cases, it may not be appropriate to benchmark performance against other
LAs in the WM due to the different types of authority (see benchmarking matrix produced for WM),
however using comparison to guide discussions across the 14 LAs in the region can be useful. Whilst
Stoke has no statistical neighbours in the Region, five of the 10 SNs for Sandwell are from the West
Midlands. Whilst in some cases the regional data in the data pack is very recent (Q1 2013/14), the SN
data will be at best 2012/13 full year, or the year before until DfE publish new national data over the
Some of the commentary provided is an excerpt from the Quarter 1 Social Care Benchmarking
Contact: Carole Brooks, West Midlands Associate - Performance Management
1. Front Door & Activity data (see also activity charts)
1.1 CAFs: We do not know the rate of CAFs nationally as it is not universally reported, but of those LAs who
provided data in the WM, the latest annualised rate per 10,000 varies from 18 (Solihull) to 306
(Staffordshire) based on quarter 1 figures. There does not appear to be any correlation between the rate and
type of authority, which may be due to the variety of early help provision, use of CAFs in the LA and different
thresholds or 'front door' through MASH arrangements in some areas.
1.2 Referrals: The WM average rate per 10,000 (573) is slightly above England average (534) with a significant
range within the region from 95 (Solihull) to 1039 (Walsall). There could be many reasons for the differences
as described above. Recent discussions about definition in the region aim to gain a better understanding and
more comparable definition which still meets DfE statutory return and Working Together guidance.
1.3 Section 47s: In 2011/12 the range of Section 47s started in the period per 10,000 population again varies
significantly between LAs in the region, even those of similar demographics, and between some of the LAs in
the region and their statistical neighbours. For example, Shropshire (36) is below their SN average of 86; and
Staffordshire started half the number of S47s (54) than their SNs in the same period (107).
1.4 CIN: Stoke has the highest rate of children in need (inc LAC and CP) at 5014, whilst Birmingham has the
lowest at 257. The activity charts in the datapack which show trend over time illustrates that whilst some
LAs have seen a decrease in number of CIN, some, for example Herefordshire, have seen a significant
increase in numbers. The number of CIN has reduced in Sandwell, Stoke, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
1.5 CP Plans and LAC: The West Midlands has a higher rate per 10,000 Child Protection Plans and looked after
& children rates compared with England average. CP Plans range from 30.2 (Staffs) to 80.4 (Coventry) and the
1.6 rate of children looked after ranges from 40.6 (Shropshire) to 117.1 (Wolverhampton). IDACI correlations
shown in the quarterly benchmarking report state that LAC rates for both Dudley and Stoke remain higher
than their expected rates given deprivation levels.
Key lines of enquiry:
- Are the levels of activity what you would expect given the profile of the local area and comparing to
similar LAs. Do they know the characteristics of these children and young people? Has the LA seen any
increases or decreases which can't be explained outside of any national trends?
2. Referral, Assessment and Child Protection
2.1 Average re-referral rate across WM is slightly higher than England Average but the proportion of referrals
& resulting in initial assessment is 1 percentage point lower than England Average. Telford & Wrekin and
2.2 Warwickshire jointly have the lowest proportion of referrals going to initial assessment and the highest rereferral rates.
2.3 The average number of days to complete an initial assessment varies significantly across the Region from 8.7
& days in Staffordshire to 55.8 days in Warwickshire. The average number of days to complete core
2.4 assessments also varies from 24.3 days in Dudley to 48.1 days in Warwickshire. LAs will be at different
stages of implementing a single assessment, and it is expected that this year will see variances in timeliness
of assessments whilst these embed and changes in reporting are undertaken. Quality assurance of
assessments during this period through audit and other means is likely to be critical to ensure consistency
and quality against timeliness.
2.5 The proportion of CIN who have a disability recorded has been included in this datapack to help discussions
about how many children there are with specific needs and who may be from vulnerable, hard to reach
groups such as the five groups of children with specific needs who are listed in Working Together 13, and the
outcomes for them compared to their peers. In terms of children in need with a disability recorded, there
appear to be slightly fewer in the WM (11.4%) than Nationally (14%) with variation in the region from
Herefordshire (4.3%) to Dudley (23.9%).
2.6 There are a higher propotion of initial child protection conferences within 15 working days of Section 47 in
the WM (82%) than the England average (72%). Dudley (56%) and Herefordshire (63%) have the fewest in
2.7 Whilst the WM average (3.2) is lower than the England average (3.6) for plans lasting 2 years or more, three
& LAs in the region had 10% of children subject to a plan for over two years (Coventry 10.7), Herefordshire
2.8 (11.6) and Solihull (11.9). For those children with a second or subsequent CP Plan in the last two years, the
West Midlands average (15.7) is higher than the England average of 13.8. Birmingham (18.1), Dudley (19.8),
Herefordshire (21.9), Shropshire (17.5) and Worcestershire (20.0) are all well above average.
Key lines of enquiry:
- Is there evidence of children and young people possibly not receiving services the first time through
high re-referrals and second and subsequent CP Plans (it could be that the LA is very aware through
audit or other means why rates may be high and this is appropriate).
- Is there evidence of drift or underlying issues in partnership working or workforce capacity in
timescale for completion of assessments, ICPCs within 15 working days of S47 and children subject of CP
Plans for over 2 years?
- Is there robust identification of, and meeting the needs of children with disabilities and other
vulnerable groups who may be CIN, CP or LAC?
3. Looked After Children, Care Leavers, Adoption and Social Care Workforce
3.1 Both the long term and short term stability measures across the West Midlands have shown slight
improvement from Q4 to Q1. The West Midlands has moved from being below the England averages to
better than the England averages for both measures. Herefordshire and Shropshire have the best long term
stability in the region, and Sandwell the poorest. Coventry, Shropshire and Telford have 1% or less 3 or more
moves but the variance in LA data could be explained by some using a rolling 12 months, and some on a
quarterly basis only. This should be explored further to ensure there is robust comparisons in year.
3.2 In 2012/13, 16% of children who ceased to be looked after were adopted in the WM compared to 14%
& nationally. LAs in the region varied from Sandwell (26%) to Solihull (8%). Commentary provided alongside
3.3 adoption measures in the regional quarterly report state that seven of the eight LAs submitting data had
significantly higher proportions of children leaving care for adoption than the England average in the quarter.
Measure A1: From eight authorities, Coventry has the highest three year average regarding a child entering
care and moving in with adoptive family (but 2nd lowest in year average), Telford & Wrekin have lowest
three year and in year average. West Midlands three year average at 592 days is slightly lower than England
average of 636 days. Measure A2: Coventry also has highest three year average between receiving court
authority to place and match to an adoptive family, Telford & Wrekin lowest three year and in year averages.
West Midlands three year average at 162 is lower than England Average of 195. LAs will have received their
pre-publication adoption scorecards and regional benchmarking is in the process of being undertaken now.
3.4 84% of care leavers in the WM were in suitable education at June 2013, slightly lower than the England
& average in 2012 of 88%. Lowest were Warwickshire (75%) and Sandwell (76%), and all care leavers were in
3.5 suitable accommodation in Dudley and Shropshire. The proportion of care leavers in education,
employment or training in the region at June 2013 (67%) is slightly above the England average for 2012
(64%) but significant variances in the region and some LAs just over a third in EET, from Shropshire (100%) to
Worcestershire (35.7%); Stoke (39%), Telford (35%).
3.8 Some LAs were able to provide workforce data in the quarterly returns and of those five who did, the
& vacancy rates ranged from 1.4% (Herefordshire ) to 19.8% (Walsall). There is recognition that not all LAs are
3.9 able to obtain regular robust workforce data without significant effort, but this is certainly an area for the
region as a key element. Benchmarking the four key measures from the new DfE workforce survey due for
submission 30th November (turnover, vacancies, agency staff, sickness) will be beneficial in providing a
better understanding of resources and pressures that LAs in the WM have in this area.
Key lines of enquiry:
- Are children in stable placements of good quality and what are the issues for those children who are
experiencing three or more placement moves a year?
- Is permanence planning and outcomes realistic, effective and evidence of minimal or no drift for
- What has been done to ensure vacancies are minimised and there is a stable, skilled workforce?
- The measures here are an exceptionally small number of a very complex area. Does the LAs know, as
Corporate Parents, know how they are doing in terms of outcomes for all children, groups of children,
and have care plans which meet the children's needs and identify timely outcomes for them?
4.1 At the time of compiling the datapack, only 2013 KS2 data had been published and therefore other
& education data relates to 2012. Part of the development work in the region is to assist in benchmarking and
4.2 early identification of education outcomes in the region.
In terms of EYFS, the key measure of success changed this year (2013) to achieving good level of progress
from 2012's measure of achieving 78 points+. In 2012, the region was only one percentage point worse than
national average for all pupils but also for narrowing the gap, with a range of results for all pupils from
Solihul (73%) to six LAs being in the bottom quartile nationally. In terms of narrowing the gap, five LAs were
in the bottom quartile and two (Shropshire and Staffordshire) in the top quartile.
4.3 This year (summer 2013), 73% of pupils in the WM achieved level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths
at KS2 compared to 76% nationally. 8 out of 14 LAs in the region were in the bottom quartile, and only one
(Solihull) in the top quartile.
4.4 Attainment at GCSE (5+ A*-C) was only slightly below England average (59.4%) at 58.8% in 2012 and three
LAs in the bottom quartile and two in the top.
4.5 54% of 19 year olds reached level 3 threshold in 2012, compared to 56% nationally. Sandwell had the fewest
4.6 More up to date data on absence in primary and secondary schools is desirable, as the datapack only
& includes 2011/12 data. Analysis of length of absence and reason would be useful for a number of services,
4.7 including troubled families. Absence at primary and secondary schools in the region is largely in line with
national, with the highest primary and secondary absence in 2011/12 being in Wolverhampton and Stoke.
4.8 As with absence rates, NEET data relates to 2011/12 and more recent should be used where possible. The
WM in 2011/12 had a higher rate of NEET than England, with highest rates in Stoke (9.1%) and Birmingham
Key lines of enquiry:
- Is there evidence that children and young people in the LA are achieving as well or better than others
of a similar demographic resulting in being in employment, education or training as they reach
- What are the outcomes for vulnerable learners and is the gap narrowing between these children and
- Are children attending school regularly?
5. Other outcomes and population data
5.1 There is a higher % of children living in poverty in the WM (23.8%) than the England average (21.1%) but
significant differences across the region from Birmingham (33.5%) to Shropshire (13.6%). Within each LA, the
variance in poverty between localities will also vary greatly masking a range of demographic geographical
factors and needs.
5.2 Infant Mortality is higher in the West Midlands (6) than England (6.3) with Herefordshire having high infant
mortality (5.9) despite low child poverty. 8 out of 14 LAs in the region are in the bottom quartile for infant
5.3 The highest rate of children killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents is in Coventry (36) and the
lowest Worcestershire (10.2)
5.4 Childhood obesity measured by Year 6 pupils who are overweight or obese is higher in the WM (36.3%) than
national (33.9%). In Sandwell, 40.3% of pupils weighed were overweight or obese and 6 out of 14 LAs in the
region were in the bottom quartile. Herefordshire, Solihull and Warwickshire were in the top quartile.
5.5 Teenage pregnancy rates in the West Midlands (34.9) are considerably higher than national (30.7) and a
wide range within the region from Coventry (48.9) to Shropshire (23.7).
5.6 Family homelessess is a statistic that is not often used within children's services datasets, but one that
clearly demonstrates a need in keeping children safe. In England, there were 1.7 statutory homeless
households with dependent children or pregnant women per 1,000 households in 2011/12, and in the region
a high rate in Birmingham (7.4) and fewer in Walsall (0.9).
5.7 The rate of emergency hospital admissions caused by unintentional and deliberate injury to children is
similar in the West Midlands to National. Variances across the region from Solihull (96) to Stoke (157).
5.8 There are fewer first time entrants to the youth justice system in the WM (476) than the England average
(537). Rates range from Staffordshire (332) to Herefordshire (669).
Key lines of enquiry:
- Is the LA aware of the characteristics and needs of its population and working towards reducing
inequalities and risk factors such as poverty, infant mortality, obesity and homelessness?
- Are children physically safe as evidenced by children killed or seriously injured in RTAs and emergency
hopsital admissions or A&E attendances? Does the LA or local partnership analyse this data to plan
prevention and reduction?
6.1 3 out of 14 (21%) of LAs in the region are currently judged inadequate for safeguarding (Birmingham,
Herefordshire and Sandwell) and one LA (7%) is judged inadequate for looked after children at their last
inspections. This compares to a national average of 13% inadequate for safeguarding and 1% inadequate for
6.2 6 LAs have a higher proportion of primary schools than the WM average who are inadequate, and six for
Key lines of enquiry:
- Does the evidence in the data pack or self assessment provide a view of the current position of the LA
and plans for improvement?