Children's Services Peer Challenge

We offer peer challenges and diagnostics to underpin the LGA sector led improvement support, assisting local authorities on their improvement journey. Our range of support offers are detailed below.

In response to continuing demand from local authorities and the ongoing pressures from external scrutiny (including the Ofsted ILACS framework), we have a number of peer reviews and diagnostics that have been designed to assist local authorities on their improvement journey. We are continuing to offer these services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic within the restrictions. The Children’s Services Remote Peer Diagnostic sets out how we will offer our ranges of peer challenges remotely.

We provide both on-site and remote peer challenges and diagnostics on a fully costed basis. LGA Principal Advisers for each region work alongside regional Children's Improvement Advisers, and they are responsible for determining appropriate peer support for local authorities in each region. Support can be fully or partly subsidised, based on a range of risk based criteria.

Feedback from local authorities who have received LGA peer reviews of their Children’s Services

Corporate Parenting

A two-day peer-led diagnostic followed by flexible offer of training and support which can be scaled as necessary to meet the level of support the council requires.

Cost – Fully subsidised
Contact - [email protected]

Corporate Parenting: LGA support, development and training offer

Children's Services Peer Challenge (CSPC)

A three or four day review of Children's Services practice, the peer challenge is structured around three core areas with additional deep dive themes/diagnostic elements than can be added on as part of the scoping process. Length of challenge and size of team depends on the agreed scope.

CSPC peer challenge manual

Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Peer Challenge

A four day challenge designed to help councils, clinical commissioning groups and partners prepare for Ofsted/CQC SEND inspections of the local area.

SEND peer challenge manual

Early Years (Speech, Language and Communication) Peer Challenge

A four day challenge to support the improvement of social mobility through early education with a particular focus on speech, language and communication. This challenge is part of the DfE’s Unlocking Talent, Fulfilling Potential and aims to reduce the word gap.

Cost - fully funded by the DfE

Early years social mobility peer challenge programme

Early Years Peer Challenge Manual

Early Years follow up challenge Manual

Contact: [email protected]

Children’s Services Resources and Efficiency Peer Challenge

A three day peer challenge, this is designed to determine potential opportunities to control and reduce costs, ensure efficiencies and maximise positive outcomes in children’s services, including the identification of invest to save opportunities.

Resources and Efficiency peer challenge manual

Cost - fully funded by the DfE.

Contact: [email protected]

Corporate Leadership and Capacity for Children’s Services

A three day peer challenge, this is designed to test the readiness and effectiveness of corporate capacity and governance to drive and enable sustained improvement in children’s services.

Cost - fully funded by the DfE

Contact: [email protected]

Bespoke packages

The LGA has a flexible approach to the varied requirements of local authorities and we are happy to discuss a bespoke approach to meet individual needs.


For peer challenges/diagnostics LGA subsidies will generally apply as follows:

  • LA under ministerial intervention following an ‘inadequate' Ofsted judgement – full subsidy from LGA
  • LA ‘requires improvement' following Ofsted judgement – LGA fund 50 per cent of cost
  • LA either ‘good' or ‘outstanding' following Ofsted judgement – LA fully funds all costs
Children's Improvement Advisers (CIA)

Working closely alongside the LGA Principal Adviser in each region the CIA will be instrumental to the improvement of children's services within councils. The key purpose of the role is to:

  • provide support to the Principal Adviser and work with councils that have been identified for sector-led support, and develop strong relationships with lead members, chief executives and directors of Children's Services, building a clear understanding of their needs to identify innovative solutions, broker improvement strategies and ensure they are delivered
  • provide complementary support and assistance, where required, to existing regional sector led improvement programmes for children's services, and contribute to the development of the LGA's peer support service and support improvement in local authorities
  • deliver programmes to support and develop leadership and best practice in councils and support councils at risk, acting as a broker between the LGA and local authorities
  • commission additional capacity and expertise, facilitating staff development and change management programmes. Working with regional networks to ensure best practice, policies and partnerships are shared.

LGA Principal Advisers and Children's Improvement Advisers by region

Book a challenge or diagnostic

If you are interested in having a peer challenge or diagnostic in the first instance please contact Richard Cooke (details below) who will ensure the relevant Principal Adviser is advised of your interest. Maximum lead-time for each offer is recommended (ideally three months) in order for the LGA to arrange the most suitable peer team to meet your specific requirements and to undertake the preparation work to support findings.

Richard Cooke, Programme Manager (Children's Services), Local Government Support Team, LGA
Telephone 07766 356 320
Email:[email protected]

Useful links

ISOS report: Action research into improvement in local children's services

NAO report: Pressures on children's social care

NAO report: Pressures on children's social care (summary)

Peer newsletter (January 2019)