Learning and Development across Children's Social Care (February 2014)

Milton Keynes

The Need

Milton Keynes have a commitment to delivering the highest quality training to those working with looked after children, both in terms of content and delivery.

In order to be cost-effective it has been important that the training offered can at any time meet a number of learning needs across a range of levels, disciplines and professional roles. The workforce reached through the contract between KCA and Milton Keynes has included Social Workers (including ASYE), IROs, Foster Carers and other staff drawn from Children's Social Care.

Milton Keynes have also wanted to look at developing new ways to ensure that CPD is responsive to practice need and effective in securing practice change and transformation: training must be shown to have lasting impact.

The Solutions

Since 2012, KCA have worked closely with the Learning and Development advisor in Milton Keynes to produce bespoke training courses that meet the identified local training needs, whilst at the same time ensuring these fit with strategic priorities.

Latterly this training has been delivered as Connected Learning with all participants being able to access a range of web-based courses and resources after each training event. This gives participants the opportunity to extend their learning over several weeks with content that prompts them to try-out new learning in the workplace.

Additionally, in January 2013, Milton Keynes purchased 50 e-learning course places to enable them to offer this as stand alone learning, which increased their responsiveness to a range of learning styles.

The Outcomes

To date the following has been delivered:

Course: Building resilience: Child, family and community

Date: October 2012

Content: Delivered to mostly AYSE Social Workers, this course explored current research on resilience. It gave participants the opportunity to apply this knowledge to their own casework, creating strategies for helping traumatised and vulnerable children and young people to develop and thrive through building individual and social resilience. It also developed understanding of the importance of building resilient communities, and the part they can play in the overall strategy.

Delivered by: Kate Cairns

Participant feedback / evaluation:

"This model of working post-trauma compliments the Parenting+ model of intervention currently being developed and used with parents in MK."

Social Worker


Course title: Living through disruption: Working effectively with unplanned endings in foster care

Date: November 2012

Content: When placement plans break down and foster care placements disrupt, everyone involved can feel devastated. This course was developed to enable foster carers and social workers to make sense of this painful experience. Using understanding of bereavements and transitions, and linking this to understanding of trauma and resilience, participants were helped to develop strategies for turning disruptions into growing points so all affected to survive and thrive.

Delivered by: Jo McAndrews

Participant feedback / evaluation: Would you recommend this course to others? 100% of those who provided feedback said yes.


Course title: Attachment and self-regulation: Developing practical approaches to promoting positive behaviour

Date(s): January 2013 & November 2013

Content: This was developed as an intensive two-day training course and was delivered on two occasions. Its purpose was to give participants the opportunity to link understanding of attachment, trauma, resilience and secondary trauma with the latest research from neuroscience. The course outlined how the latest research provides us with an opportunity to think about challenging behaviour in new ways and change practice to promote positive behaviour. By including a session on secondary trauma, this course helped participants to understand that how the adults are is key to how the children are.

Participants were invited after the event to take up e-learning to look in more depth at some of the session topics on 'Understanding Trauma', 'Impulsive Behaviour' or 'Behaviour and the Physical Environment'. It was the participant's choice whether or not they took up this offer. Three did and were able to extend their learning experience across the following three months.

Delivered by: Sally Romain and Fiona Cadwaladr

Participant Feedback:

"As I was driving home, I realised that although I had been evaluating the relevance of the course against my caseload throughout the two days, I had actually been able to put aside the particular stresses of my current work and had been refreshed. This is evidence to me of the success of the course, because I had become so engrossed and involved in what we were doing."

Jane Sellers, Social Worker


Course: The Mental health of children and young people: Managing risk, promoting recovery

Date(s): February 2014

Content: Participants attending this course were provided with key knowledge about the prevalence of mental health issues in the whole population, but also across subsets. These included gender differences and, importantly, a look specifically at children in care, in the criminal justice system, and so-on. Participants were encouraged to consider how the latest research findings can help us understand these statistics. The course moved on to consider self-harming behaviours and how we can assess and manage risks around this in such a way as to promote recovery. A trauma model for understanding these issues was introduced and participants were given the opportunity after the event to take follow-up e-learning that would provide them with practical strategies and tools in their work.

Delivered by: Brian Cairns

Participant feedback / evaluation:

"I will be more inquisitive"

Foster Carer

Customer Response

All our staff find the training extremely helpful for their day-to-day work. Social workers and foster carers alike say the training puts the child's perspective vividly before them, and gives them new insights and tools to improve their direct work. It is clear to see that groups benefit from the skills and experience of trainers, listening with rapt attention and engaging in lively discussion during sessions.

Brighde Boyle

Training and Development Officer

Children and Families Integrated Support and Social Care

Next Steps

Moving into a second contract, Milton Keynes are keen to extend the reach of the the KCA courses to the workforce beyond those working with Looked After Children. This second contract will focus on vulnerability across the broader community. Children's Centre staff will be offered the opportunity to learn about brain development and positive parenting.

An area for further development identified in the first contract period was risk management and risk assessment. Milton Keynes want training that will help participants ensure that their own risk assessment and management work not only safeguards but also serves as effective intervention in terms of promoting and building resilience.

This next phase of work will also include greater emphasis on the development of skills and will introduce Emotion Coaching more widely as a useful practice tool.

Lastly, following on from the Attachment and self-regulation' course, 'Caring for others, Caring for ourselves' will focus on the workforce as the greatest asset for promoting recovery and building resilience in the community.

The following courses have been booked:

Course: 'Brain development and positive parenting'

Planned date: October 2014

Course: 'Vulnerable families, vulnerable children'

Planned date: November 2014

Course: 'Emotion coaching'

Planned date: December 2014 and February 2015

Course: 'Caring for others, caring for ourselves'

Planned date: March 2015

The plan is for Connected Learning to grow and develop throughout this contract, with Milton Keynes having full partnership access which gives them visibility of all provision and learner interaction.

Childrens Social Care Case Study

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