Interface independently reviewed Wandsworth Council's newly combined adult and children's departments to ensure statutory accountabilities were robustly delivered after the change. Wandsworth Council is in south London with a very mixed population and high demand for social care services and school places. Until recently the authority had separate directors and departments for Children's Services and Adult social care services.
The statutory guidance for Directors of Children's services requires authorities who change their management arrangements to carry out a test of assurance to check that the statutory accountabilities will still be clear and effective under the new arrangements. Wandsworth wanted the Test of Assurance to be done independently to ensure rigour.
The Test of Assurance involved two Interface consultants with extensive experience in local authority leadership, both children's and adults social care and corporate resources. The team examined more than 60 documents and interviewed more than 50 people including staff, service users, partners and Councillors. Using the statutory accountabilities framework a detailed report was provided for the Chief Executive who reported the outcomes to Members.
The authority had an external validation and 'health check' of its leadership arrangements, including getting a sense of user, staff and partner views. This enabled them to feel secure and to be well-prepared for any future Ofsted inspection of their children's services.
“We set a very challenging timetable for the piece of work we commissioned. Interface developed an approach which both met our time frames, but also provided an incredibly robust and challenging assessment. The combination of the 2 associates with different backgrounds was a benefit to the project and outcomes as it meant we received challenge from a number of angles.Project Manager Children and Families Commissioning Team
“The lessons learned from the research, and articulated clearly in the report, have been extremely valuable and have informed commissioning intentions which will substantially improve our offer locally for children and young people.Children & Families Commissioning Team (Project Manager)