‘Protecting, safeguarding and ensuring the well-being of children are complex tasks that can only be successfully achieved by agencies successfully working together’. (Safeguarding Arrangements for Children and Young People in Devon – Our response to Working Together 2018)
In response to Working Together to Safeguarding Children (July 2018), Devon became one of 17 local authorities innovating multi-agency safeguarding practice. Each Devon Children and Families Partnership (DCFP) local safeguarding partner (NHS Devon CCG, Devon and Cornwall Police and Devon County Council) committed to this area of work by identifying a Practice Lead to develop the programme. The DCFP also worked with the National Children’s Bureau who gathered learning from the 17 local authorities and have made this available.
The Devon programme focused on creating a multi-agency approach to learning and practice improvement and on creating resources to support and sustain learning. Key features of the programme included:
- Starting with strengths – developing an approach based on the principles of appreciative inquiry;
- Testing the relevance of this approach with all partner agencies;
- Maintaining a clear focus on improving practice with children, young people and families;
- Supporting the development of reflective practice, professional curiosity, analysis and critical thinking to underpin multi-agency safeguarding and learning.
The Practice Leads worked with Research in Practice (RiP) to apply the principles of Appreciative Inquiry and develop methods for facilitating ‘appreciative learning conversations’ across the partnership. Testing this approach in Devon elicited very positive responses from the 70+ staff and managers from a range of agencies who took part, as the quotes below illustrate:
‘I felt this particular style of an appreciative conversation was focused, manageable, productive and purposeful’.
‘Refreshing, informal, conversational. Encouraging. Motivated. Non-accusatory, worthwhile. Focusing on positivity and showing good practice’.
‘By using a strengths-based style the conversation flowed and the facilitator was able to add depth to the conversation by encouraging us to think outside of our usual way of working. It was amazing how we suddenly found ourselves problem solving issues that had a risen through the conversation and moving forward with actions and plans to improve our service. It was good to be able to talk about things as a team and to have the time and space to do this. The session was only for an hour, but when focused it was surprising how much we covered and achieved. I personally found the session motivating and engaging’.
DCFP and Research in Practice are pleased to share a range of resources:
- Appreciative Inquiry and Appreciative Conversations – Guidance (PDF) (June 2019)
- Practice tool: Developing multi-agency safeguarding practice through appreciative learning conversations (PDF) (June 2019)
- Evidence-informed approaches to learning in Multi-Agency Safeguarding (Video) (90 mins)
- An introduction to appreciative inquiry (Video) (39 mins)
- National Children’s Bureau – Devon Learning Examples
The DCFP would like your feedback on these resources, how you have used them and their impact. Please share with us your feedback.