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Performance Management and Quality Assurance Framework


This chapter replaces the previous 'Quality Assurance Framework' and 'Performance Management Framework' chapters and builds on them to bring these together as a single approach to: understand how well the service is doing; evaluate the impact on outcomes and to enable Wirral to learn and develop its service for children. It is at the heart of providing the best possible services to children and their families in Wirral.

The chapter identifies key processes and actions and provides relevant tools in the Appendices to provide additional information.


Wirral Council Plan: A 2020 Vision - Performance Management Framework


Children's Services Policies, Values and Principles

Social Work Practice Standards

Managers Practice Standards

1. Introduction

This document sets out the Performance Management and Quality Assurance Framework for children's services in Wirral. It builds on and replaces the Quality Assurance Framework 2015 and the Performance Management Framework 2016, bringing these together into a single approach to understanding how well our services are doing, checking the impact on outcomes, and learning from what we find to guide our improvement actions. This framework is at the heart of our ambition to provide the best possible services to children and young people and their families in Wirral. It is what they deserve, if we expect only the best for our children.

2. Purpose and Scope

The primary purpose of this framework is to set out for front line staff and managers at all levels clear expectations of their roles and responsibilities for performance management and quality assurance; to provide support, guidance and the tools with which to understand how effective their services are, and so make, continuous sustained improvements to services in Wirral. It will support the achievement of better outcomes for children, young people, parents and families. The framework reflects and reinforces the Wirral Children's Social Work Practice and Social Care Management Standards.

The framework will enable services to be publicly accountable for quality, performance and impact, allowing any other person or organisation to see and understand how we can work together to improve outcomes for children and young people, and how they can contribute. It also aims to close the gap between performance management and quality assurance. In a continuously improving system, what we identify from interrogating data and providing intelligence must be tested out in practice, to truly assure ourselves of the quality and impact of work across the system that aims to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

This Framework should be read in conjunction with the Wirral Council Plan: A 2020 Vision - Performance Management Framework.

Performance Management Framework which sets out how performance management will operate across the partnership in Wirral. Securing the best outcomes for children and young people is the partnership's responsibility. A systems approach to performance management  designed to ensure that all stakeholders are fully informed and can robustly engage in support, challenge and oversight of children's services and the service improvement journey is therefore essential. This approach is set out in detail in Appendix 2: Performance Management Whole System Approach.

To be effective this Performance Management and Quality Assurance Framework includes:

  • Cycles for the regular reporting and analysis of comprehensive, accurate and reliable performance data (See Appendix 1: Children's Services Annual Performance Management Cycle);
  • A single approach to assuring data quality, building up from practice to reporting and making this everyone's business;
  • Clear monitoring and quality assurance arrangements that aim to build the competence and confidence of staff at all levels to know what good looks like;
  • How we will use the outcomes of performance analysis and reporting, monitoring, case audits, complaints, Serious Case Reviews/Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews and multi-agency audits to drive service improvements, closing the gap between evaluation, learning and the actions we take as a result;
  • Staff training and development activities to ensure ownership and understanding of performance management and quality assurance by staff at all levels in the organisation;
  • An immediate response to identified concerns for children's safeguarding or welfare.

The approach to performance management and quality assurance will be underpinned by a number of strategies and policies which taken together support the design and delivery of effective services. These include:

3. Performance Management in Summary

Performance management is everybody's business. It is about improving outcomes for our children, young people and their families: it means taking action in response to actual performance at an individual, team, service, department, corporate, or community level.

All staff and managers are responsible for their own work and their contribution to the work of their team and service including performance management and quality assurance. Managers have additional responsibilities to understand, monitor and address performance issues within their service area, team and with individual staff members. Through implementing this framework all managers will be equipped with the skills, knowledge and tools to access, understand, interpret and use performance and quality assurance information.

Wirral's performance management arrangements will enable managers to:

  • Use information and intelligence to help maintain, develop and improve services by responding to identified needs;
  • Understand the direction of travel, decide where to target action and evaluate the impact of these actions;
  • Identify trends and variances so that early action can be taken;
  • Hold services and individuals to account for their contribution to improving outcomes for children and young people;
  • Forecast and predict future issues and needs, informing decisions about where to deploy staff and resources.

4. Key Performance Management Activity

To enable staff, managers at all levels and elected members to be to use performance management information as a tool to keep practice under review we are committed to providing accurate data and information on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The range of reports and various levels of accountability and challenge are set out below:

Caption: Performance Data
Key Performance Management Activity
Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly


DCS, DD and senior managers maintain oversight


DD, senior managers, group managers, team managers


Improvement Board, DCS, Performance clinics, Performance Management DMT


Wirral 2020 Plan, Wirral Safeguarding Children Partnership, Corporate Parenting Group, Children's Scrutiny Sub-Committee


Managers maintain daily oversight of key activities and statutory requirements.


Managers maintain daily oversight of key activities and statutory requirements.


Interrogation of performance and QA reports, actions agreed and implemented including to address specific areas identified from PIs. Trend analysis, comparisons with statistical neighbours. NW region and national data.


Relevant PIs, data, QA findings scrutinised by executive group with recommendations/actions informing the next monthly monitoring cycle and reported back to future quarterly monitoring cycle.

Key Performance Data:

Statutory visits
S47 timescales
CL in touch

Key Performance Data:

Multiple contacts
Statutory visits
S47 timescales
CL data suite

Key Performance Data:

Data book with trackers
Performance summary against core indicators Deeper data reviews and reports as selected against key issues e.g. CLA, CPP, timeliness across a range of actions

Key Performance

Improvement Board Data Book
Wirral Pledge quarterly monitoring reports

To ensure we are all using this intelligence to the best possible effect the following activities will be offered alongside the regular cycle of reporting set out above:

  • Support and training on the use of the daily and weekly reporting tools, so staff at all levels have the skills, knowledge and confidence to use and manipulate the suite of self-serve reports with confidence;
  • A simple guide for accessing reports / information for all team and group managers
  • Short term one to one support where this is needed;
  • Performance surgeries by service area, where deeper dives into the data, intelligence trends and hypotheses will be facilitated by the performance and information team;
  • Multi-agency performance surgeries, with a particular focus on partners' contributions to keeping children safe in Wirral.

Further training and support for staff will be commissioned based on the feedback from staff engagement and service performance surgeries. A development programme will be worked up in collaboration with the Social Work Practice Improvement Lead and the Organisational Development and Human Resources team.

5. Data Quality

Good quality data underpins good quality decisions, and thereby drives service improvement. We must ensure that our intelligence is reliable; that the data we use to manage our services is accurate; that we have robust systems in place to test and assure the quality of our data and that staff at all levels understand their role and contribution to keeping and maintaining high quality data. Our ambition is to capture data once, record promptly and correctly the first time, ensures it is fit for purpose and accurate all of the time and use it for many purposes.

Poor quality data can result in:

  • Mistakes and delays in providing a service to children and families who need them, or the provision of inappropriate services;
  • False concerns raised over service performance and wasted effort in addressing those concerns;
  • False comfort and failure to spot and address performance concerns quickly; 
  • Unnecessary costs, both at an operational level (wasted effort, inaccurate invoicing, over-payment) and a strategic level (decisions taken based on a false premise);
  • Lack of trust and reputational risks for services, the department and the Council;
  • Breaches of information security (for example, if poor data quality leads to sensitive personal data being sent to the wrong address).

Data quality always involves a trade-off between timeliness, accuracy and the cost of collecting or producing that data. However, there are a number of key characteristics of good quality data. These are:

  • Accurate - Data should be sufficiently accurate for its intended purposes, representing clearly and in sufficient detail the interaction provided at the point of activity. Data will be more accurate if it is captured as close to the point of activity as possible (e.g. if the person who captures the data also enters it on the system and as soon as it is captured);
  • Valid - Data should be sufficiently accurate for its intended purposes, representing clearly and in sufficient detail the interaction provided at the point of activity;
  • Reliable - Data must reflect stable and consistent data collection processes across collection points and over time. Managers and stakeholders should be confident that progress toward performance targets reflects real changes rather than variations in data collection approaches or methods;
  • Timely - Data should be captured as quickly as possible after the event or activity and must be available for the intended use within a reasonable time period;
  • Relevant - Data captured must be relevant to the purposes for which it is used and reviewed periodically to reflect changing needs or circumstances;
  • Complete - Missing, incomplete, or invalid records undermine data quality.

The process for ensuring data capture follows service activity with data quality as an embedded part of the process. There are clear roles and responsibilities for practitioners, Team Managers and Group Managers in the data quality cycle. Click here to view Data Quality Process Cycle.

We will work up from practice to assure data quality, using source data held on case management system to systematically check and cleanse data on a regular basis. As we bring more case management information together we will expand this approach to include Early Help and multi-agency data.

Fuller details are included in Appendix 3: Children's Services Data Quality Strategy January 2017.

6. Quality Assurance in Summary

The Quality Assurance Framework for children's services across Wirral covers all activity undertaken to ensure work with children, young people and their families is carried out to the highest quality. It aims to improve our understanding of whether we are supporting the right children, in the right way, at the right time, to check if we are making a difference to their lives and to identify areas where improvements need to be made. The framework is designed to support a journey of continuous improvement through a strong focus on ensuring the learning from quality assurance informs and shapes our daily practice.

The Quality Assurance Framework is guided by the following values and principles:

improvement cycle

Responding to a concerns for children's safeguarding or welfare

If a concern for a child's safeguarding or welfare is identified in a case audit, all staff have a responsibility to act on this information. This will be escalated by completing a 'closing the loop' escalation form held on Liquid Logic, with details of the specific concerns, actions to be taken and learning from the case audit. This information will be shared with the relevant manager to ensure they have knowledge of the concerns and action needed to address safeguarding concerns. By monitoring and reporting on these closing the loop episodes we will ensure that the learning from these cases informs practice, and supports further development of the department's learning and development programme.

7. Key Components of the Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance activity, by whom Purpose Timeframe Output

Deep dive audit

Case specific Managers across CSC and EH complete 1 case file audit Moderation by managers including SLT

Provides quantitative and qualitative evidence and information to review and evaluate the quality of practice. Monthly Monthly summary report on themes emerging, compliance, implications for practice and recommendations for action to translate into action plans that lead to improved outcomes for children.

Dip sample audit

Social workers, managers, auditors using the dip sample audit tool in Liquid logic

Using a consistent approach, assess compliance with practice standards; including specific areas identified as requiring improvement.

To an agreed cycle / timeframe

In response to needs identified by service managers

Outcomes recorded in a bespoke form in Liquid Logic.

Monthly summary report to identify issues and learning including compliance with practice standards.

Thematic audit / practice review

Quality Assurance Team

Provide quantitative and qualitative evidence and information on practice themes across children's services in the department. Quarterly Quarterly summary report will be used to highlight good practice, guide practice improvement, and inform action plans to address concerns which can be monitored.

Quality assurance coaching mentoring programme

Auditors working in partnership with social workers and team managers in team offices.

Will include collaborative case file audits, practice observations, reflective discussions.

Develop a shared understanding across team managers of what good looks like To lift and improve day to day practice through learning together. Rolling programme

Summary report to the Group Manager at the end of each cycle.

Summary report on the learning achieved across the teams to inform an action plan that celebrates good practice and addresses areas of concern.

Family CAF and TAF QA Framework To provide assurance of consistent implementation of the Common Assessment Framework across all agencies in Wirral.
To improve use of the CAF in identifying the needs of children, young people and their families and improve early intervention to support those needs.
To identify training needs by highlighting examples of good practice and areas requiring improvement in agencies across Wirral.
Annual cycle Quarterly report to the Early Help Strategic Board, as set out in the QAF.

IRO audits

By IRO's, to include:

Children subject to a CP Plan;

CP Plan categories;

ICPC timeliness;

CP review timeliness;

Attendance at Conference;

Child participation at CP reviews;

Children who have had multiple CP Plans.

To ensure that care planning is appropriate and that the IRO footprint can be found on LAC/CP cases. To identify any drift and delay and issues with permanency planning/legislation. Reinforce the IRO's role in quality assurance. Monthly

Summary report which allows for IRO's to self-evaluate their impact on care planning and outcomes for children.

Ownership by IRO's of how to help address areas of improvement.

Identification of any themes in relation to care planning.

LADO audit To indicate if the referral process is widely understood, if the referral forms are completed fully by referrers and to identify any trends in relation to the children involved in the allegations. Annual programme Annual Report to WSCB

Feedback from children, young people and their families

Children in Care Council Youth Voice SEND Youth Voice Group

To ensure meaningful involvement and direct feedback from young people and their families.

To test the validity of key themes identified through quality assurance and ensure children and young people have their say on these.

Monthly as required TBC
Complaints To provide an analysis of the themes raised in complaints, timeliness of responses, identified learning and actions taken during the course of the investigation.   Monthly report produced detailing number of complaints received by district/team/area with case responsibility, reason for complaint to be linked with learning development and support good practice.

Multi-agency audits

Performance Sub-Committee of WSCB

To monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding practice. 6 per year Audit report produced to identify data cases escalated, themes, learning and timeliness of response leading to positive outcomes for children and young people.
Closing the loop (escalation process) To be completed when a concern for a child's safeguarding or welfare is identified in a case audit. Monthly Audit report produced to identify data cases escalated, themes, learning and timeliness of response leading to positive outcomes for children and young people.

8. Learning from Quality Assurance and Closing the Audit Loop

All of the key components described above provide useful evaluation information of practice both positive and negative and give clear evidence and information to inform learning and so improve practice. Evaluation reports from each activity should be translated into action plans, linked to training and development activities (formal and informal) that will be owned by the relevant service area. This closes the audit loop.

Following on from any provision of training, re audit should provide information on how successful the learning/training activity has been in addressing any identified areas for practice development. Equally audit should be used to identify good practice and to disseminate the same, through appreciate enquiry, practice development forums and group supervision.

There are a number of ways in which the learning from quality assurance and audit activity will be disseminated and used to improve practice across the department.  These include:

Regularly updated resource bank, including tools for dip sampling and deep dive audits, audit standards:

  • What Does Good Look Like? Guidance;
  • Quality Assurance Newsletters;
  • Action learning sets;
  • Practice Improvement workshops;
  • Team, district or whole service workshops;
  • Supervision guidance notes, to focus on key areas across the whole service;
  • Multi- agency briefings;
  • Lunch time seminars.

We will take a blended approach, combining a series of short sharp learning opportunities such as lunch and learn, team and district briefings, aide memoirs to guide supervision and the display of Wirral's top ten improvement areas, with deeper reflective development sessions. The recommendations and learning from practice audits will inform and be carefully co-ordinated with the development of the department's learning and development programme, ensuring that these activities directly close the audit loop and contribute to the department's continuous learning.


A number of supporting documents set out in more detail the whole system approach to performance management, and the standards against which the quality assurance programme is applied. These are therefore included as appendices as follows:

tri.x procedures