London Children's Social Care Practice Leaders Group - Welcome! 


Welcome to the London Children’s Social Care Practice Leaders Group.

 The Group provides a forum for London’s children’s social care practice leaders with day to day responsibility across the whole system for child and family social work practice.   Practice leaders in London have a range of different job titles and service portfolios. They report to the person in their authority who holds the statutory Director of Children’s Services function. You can get an up to date list of practice leaders from the Group’s facilitator Andrew O’Sullivan by emailing

ALDCS support practice leaders to engage in the Group by attending meetings and taking on lead roles around policy and regional initiatives.  ALDCS fund an independent consultant Andrew O’Sullivan to support the group. Judith Finlay is the ALDCS member who acts as the link with the Group. There is information about the Association of London Directors of Children’s Services (ALDCS) on the London Councils’ website

The formal operation of the Group is set out in the Group’s Terms of Reference.  The Group provides an opportunity for practice leaders to learn from each other and work together on shared regional issues. It is also a source of informal support and a way in which individual practice leaders can develop their own network of ‘go to people.’

The Group has an important function as the voice of children’s social care leaders on strategic and policy development. It meets with strategic partners and key stakeholders to strengthen partnership working and drive regional innovation and improvement. Above all the Group aims to make an important contribution to improving children’s social care practice across the region to make a positive difference to the lives of London children and young people.

The Group has a Business Plan which can be accessed by clicking on the link. It is reviewed and updated annually.

Key priorities are to raise standards across the whole child and family practice system, work effectively with partners on thematic challenges, respond effectively to financial pressures on children’s social care budgets and build regional partnership capacity.

London is different

London as a region is different from the rest of the country. As the capital city and third largest city in Europe it covers a large geographical area and has a large diverse population. London has 32 local authorities and the City of London who are responsible for the delivery of children’s social care services. The Office for National Statistics is a useful source of information about the London and your borough profile  The Trust for London Tackling Poverty and Inequality website also has demographic information about London and your borough.

 The Mayor

There is a London Mayor who works closely with the 32 local authorities and City of London. Link to the Mayor of London, London Assembly and City Hall website:

The London Mayor is the police commissioner. There is a Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime who are responsible for delivering the Mayor’s Police and Crime Plan for London.

The London Crime Reduction Board brings together strategic partners to deliver the Plan and provide accountability and challenge.

London Councils

London Councils represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. It coordinates policy work on children and young people and represents the interests of London’s boroughs relating to all aspects of children’s services.

The London Safeguarding Children Network represents London’s councils in a strategic partnership with police, health and other partners to promote child safeguarding across London. Top of FormBottom of Form There is a Board Manager and Policy Officer. Currently two Practice Leaders are members of the Board.

There are comprehensive London Child Protection Procedures and Practice Guidance that are an addition to statutory guidance and local procedures and guidance

Working across the region

Working together across the region makes sense, but the large number of authorities and regional stakeholders means this can be challenging and perhaps bewildering if you are new to working in London.

There have been regional initiatives for example around supporting asylum seeking children. Westminster hosts the London Asylum Seekers Consortium (LASC).

London boroughs have come together to form four regional adoption agencies, the Adopt London website is a portal to these agencies 

London boroughs have come together with academic institutions to form social work teaching partnerships including north London , west London and south east London

London boroughs have worked together to agree Memorandums of Understanding around the engagement of agency staff.

Practice leaders play a key role in driving regional initiatives. Contact for a list of lead or link roles held by Practice Leaders in London and for information  about which boroughs are engaged in the DfE innovations programme, What Works Centre and Social Work England. There are a range of regional networks. See for information about these.

Working with the Metropolitan Police

A key partnership is with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) who are responsible for policing the whole of London except for the City of London (there are also British Transport Police on the railways).  The MPS is now organised into 12 Basic Command Units (BCUs) composed of clusters of local authorities. There is a commander for each BCU. This is a relatively new way of organising policing in London.  Your local children’s safeguarding partnership will have senior officer engagement from your local BCU.  There is a Head of Profession Safeguarding whose responsibilities include safeguarding children. 

NHS in London

The NHS England and NHS Improvement London website is a useful starting point to get information on how health services are organised in London.

Education and youth

The Education and Youth section of the Mayor of London’s website has a lot of information about school or education setting based services and support. You can get borough level information about schools and other services.

London Innovation and Improvement Alliance

The London Regional Innovation and Improvement Alliance (RIIA) is the ALDCS sector-led improvement alliance. The website is developing.  The regional improvement priorities each with a lead DCS:

There is an annual programme of work. Activity is organised around four sub-regions or quadrants.  The Programme Manager is Ben Byrne


Your focus and priority will be on improving the quality and effectiveness of children’s social care services for children and families in your borough. You are accountable for the standard of services, providing assurance and driving improvement. The legal framework, regulatory and inspection arrangements promotes a shared understanding of what good looks like.  The ‘how’ you lead as opposed to the ‘what’ standards you need to meet can seem a significant challenge when you are new to London or new to the role.

Being a Practice Leader in London provides great opportunities to learn from others about how to get the services you lead to where you want them to be. Ofsted reports, regional peer improvement activity and informal conversations with your peers are a rich source of learning, encouragement and support.

You can be confident that someone somewhere has faced the same challenge and problem that you are trying to address.  Getting the right support that works for you, both formal and informal is what the Practice Leaders Group is about.  Getting your voice as Practice Leaders is an important way in which you drive improvement at a regional as well as local level. Making a positive difference for London children.

Prepared by Anrew O' Sullivan. You are welcome to contact him at