Operational Performance Management Framework

1. Introduction

Performance Management is about making the best use of people and information to help us improve. It involves taking positive action to make outcomes for children and young people better than they would be otherwise. An effective approach to performance management is important to the success of any organisation. It ensures we remain focused on what is important to our service users and communities and those we deliver safe, efficient and effective services. We must put into place the right systems and processes to enable us to make decisions based on sound data and intelligence, track our progress and achieve planned improvements to services and performance. The purpose of this framework is to outline the practical implementation of the Performance Management Framework.

This framework should be read in conjunction with the following documents:

  • Performance Management Framework;
  • Quality Assurance Framework;
  • Data Quality Framework; 
  • Reporting Standards.

2. Performance Management in Summary

Performance management is taking action to make outcomes better. It means taking action in response to actual performance, which might be at an individual, team, service, corporate, or community level. We need and be able to:

  • To know what action to take, performance has to be monitored;
  • To know how to judge performance, criteria have to be agreed (aims, objectives, targets etc);
  • To know how to assess performance against the criteria, there has to be a method (for example performance indicators);
  • Applying this to a whole organisation requires some systematic action and co-ordination.

Effective performance management is an ongoing activity and an integral part of leadership and management. It is not intended to operate as a “bolt on”, formal set of policies and procedures which incur an additional burden to those involved. The formal processes are intended to offer structure, clarity and consistency to staff and management activity that should, in best practice terms be happening as a matter of course. Performance management is a collection of processes and behaviours for adoption by everyone in Specialist Children’s Services. Performance management is everybody’s business at all levels of Specialist Children’s Services and beyond. 

Performance management is more than the monitoring of key performance indicators. It embraces all activities that are designed to support the effective delivery of services. The key elements (listed below) collectively provide a holistic view of performance in Specialist Children’s Services. 

  • Quality Standards;
  • Outcomes;
  • Key Indicators;
  • Information;
  • Staff Development and Appraisals and workforce analysis;
  • Complaints;
  • Objectives;
  • Contract Monitoring;
  • User Engagement;
  • External monitoring (inspections and audit);
  • Financial Monitoring;
  • Service Plan monitoring;
  • Risk Register review and monitoring.

3. Business Planning

  • Business planning forms the link between the broad policy objectives for Specialist Children’s Services, both national and local, and the delivery of day-to-day support to vulnerable children and families. It is the bedrock of effective performance management. Business planning, therefore, ranges between an overarching strategic plan for Specialist Children’s Services through to specific service plans, through to plans for teams or units;
  • Children’s Service and District Business Plans are established yearly as per the Kent County Council schedule and formally reviewed six monthly. (See Appendix 3: Example of the Council's Annual Planning Cycle);
  • The process of developing the business plan is critical for Specialist Children’s Services in driving the expected outcomes, performance monitoring schedule, data quality plan and the policy and practice developments for that period, this process will be lead by SCS DivMT with support form the Specialist Children’s Services Performance Board Members;
  • Business Plans will be the central document which evidences the agreed aims and objectives, the expected impacts and outcomes, asks the questions about how we will know if we achieve and the measure both internal and national targets and measures against the aims, objectives and priorities.

4. Key Targets and Indicators

In order to help drive improved performance, indicators and targets should be outcomes-focussed as this means that services need to line up the appropriate inputs (in a way that works locally) to achieve the ultimate aim of improving end outcomes. Outcomes focused indicators therefore encourage both local solutions to be developed, and services to invest in a range of actions/inputs to achieve the end outcome, rather than focusing solely on processes or inputs that might not impact on the end outcome. 

  • Internal targets and measures to drive improvements and meet development objectives will be set during the Kent County Council business planning cycle, the Kent County Council Medium Term Plan Bold Steps for Kent and the National target setting cycle;
  • Internal targets and measures will be reviewed to ensure they are focused on required outcomes every six months by the Specialist Children’s Services Performance Management Board;
  • Internal targets will be set to stretch Specialist Children’s Services at all levels, but will also recognise the constraints Specialist Children’s Services is working under and the resource capacity it has to support the desired improvements and developments;
  • Benchmarking against statistical neighbours in setting targets and monitoring targets will be consistently including in all performance monitoring and used to establish both the impact and the justification of any shift from statistical neighbours;
  • National Performance Indicators and Measures will be mapped alongside internally set targets and measures yearly, or sooner should National measures be removed or added during the twelve month cycle;
  • A baseline for each target set against all indicators and measures will be established;
  • Information Recording Systems will be reviewed by the Integrated Children’s System Programme Board to ensure data/information required to monitor targets and measures can be captured and reported. 

5. Performance Monitoring

The availability of accurate and timely information about the quality of services delivered either directly by the Specialist Children’s Services or by voluntary providers is a key part of gathering evidence to enable monitoring of quality in service provision.

  • Performance monitoring reports will be produced and circulated in line with an agreed schedule - Performance Monitoring Reporting Schedule (see Appendix 1: Reporting a Schedule). The content and schedule for performance reporting will be established in line with: business planning targets and measures, SCS DivMT Action Plan targets and measures, national performance indicators and measures (as embedded in national returns);
  • Performance monitoring content and schedule will be reviewed every six months by the Specialist Children’s Services Performance Management Board;
  • Performance monitoring reports will ensure the data is accurate and timely, this will include data validation audits, sanity checking and external scrutiny;
  • Performance monitoring reporting will be designed to ensure they provide a comprehensive, targeted, rounded, recognisable view of progress in terms of delivery of outcomes and progress against targets;
  • Reporting standards will be enforced during the production of all performance monitoring reports;
  • Performance reports will included data quality confidence levels;
  • Direct access to data reports and LIVE data reports for all levels of staff in Children’s Social Services, Kent County Council CMT (including PAT and DAT members) and Members is essential in ensuring open and transparent performance monitoring;
  • Performance monitoring reports will drawn on a variety of sources/information types including, social work case recording, education data recorded, workforce data, complaints data, finance data, contracts and commissioned services data, Freedom of Information reports and user feedback recorded.

6. Data Quality

  • Data Quality management is governed by the Data Quality Framework, this framework establishes the standards and processes required to ensure data used in performance monitoring is accurate and available;
  • Specialist Children’s Services Data Quality Priorities and Data Quality Plan will be set by the Management Information Unit and SCS DivMT at the beginning of the Financial Year based on estimates of Performance levels in Statutory Returns, Business Plan indicators and other key data sets.
  • These priorities will be reviewed quarterly by Children’s Social Service Performance Board and during six monthly during the Business Planning Reviews;
  • Relevant elements of the Specialist Children’s Services Data Quality Plan, and Data Quality Reports will be used to assist priority setting for data quality work, and any associated changes to Policy or Practice;
  • Localised data quality performance and priorities will be established in the annual Specialist Children’s Services District Data Quality Plan. The will be formally reviewed on a quarterly basis during the District Performance Management Meetings.

7. Quality Assurance

  • Quality assurance is governed by the Quality Assurance Framework; this framework is a core component in ensuring effective performance management with Specialist Children’s Services;
  • Quality assurance is a term that embraces all activity that contributes to service improvement through satisfying the organisation that agreed standards are being met and outcomes for safeguarding children are being achieved. It is a continual and dynamic process by which we set standards, monitor our achievements against those standards, use the information we have to improve services and undertake ongoing review. Quality assurance is more than meeting targets and counting activity, it is a qualitative approach, which measures standards and identifies areas for improvement. It should be both systematic and themed, cross agency and sole agency;
  • Deep Dives/Themed Audits will be undertaken three times a years with the results reported to the Specialist SCS DivMT and/or the Specialist Children’s Services Performance Board;
  • Independent Reviewing Officers and Child Protection Chairs will report audit finding to Specialist SCS DivMT quarterly;
  • Case Audits as per the quality assurance schedule to be reported by the Safeguarding Unit to the SCS DivMT and/or Specialist Children’s Services Performance Board, on a quarterly basis;
  • The Head of Safeguarding will present an annual report of the findings from audits and other quality assurance processes to the SCS DivMT and the Senior Management Team, summarising audit activity and identifying emerging strengths and areas for improvement;
  • The Complaints Manager will attend the SCS DivMT Meeting and/or Specialist Children’s Services Performance Board on a quarterly basis to feed back emerging themes and an action plan with clear measures is devised to ensure that learning from complaints contributes to the improvement cycle.

8. Monitoring, Evaluation and Review

  • Routine monitoring of performance management processes and activity is important. It directs consideration of the effectiveness of the processes and actions in achieving stated aims and objectives and the success in achieving agreed outcomes. It is a process to which an element of proportionality and risk analysis may be applied, with Specialist Children’s Services managers making informed decisions about the kind of process that will be appropriate;
  • Routine monitoring and evaluation of Action Plans, Targets/Measures and Performance Monitoring methods by the Specialist Children’s Services Performance Board is required quarterly. The focus of this activity is to ensure that action plans and performance managements arrangements remain current and valid in light of developing knowledge; to evaluate the extent to which the intended outcomes are being achieved and to ensure recommended actions are followed up to remedy the identified shortcomings;
  • Feedback from staff is useful in identifying opportunities to improve service and performance. Feedback can come from team meetings, staff consultations including the annual staff survey, staff appraisals and exit interviews, or at other times as part of deep-dives reviews;
  • Member shadowing a social worker programme is an opportunity for Kent Members to have time to learn and experience what it means to deliver social work practice in Kent but it is also a valuable source of information for service review and monitoring. This information from Members will be captured and incorporated into formal service reviews;
  • Service users and other stakeholders provide an important, free source of performance information through feedback mechanisms, focus groups, surveys and complaints. Service users and stakeholder information is collected, monitored and can be used to improve services. Engagement with service users should form a core regular part of service delivery and design;
  • Opportunities for improvement may also be identified through benchmarking, and research into best practice in other authorities. Sharing learning and good practice with other authorities and organisations can be facilitated through networks, officer working groups, events, challenge events

Please see:

Appendix 1: Reporting a Schedule

Click here to view Appendix 1: Reporting a Schedule.

Appendix 2: Terms of Reference

  1. To oversee the Business Planning process, including agreeing core objectives, targets measures, performance monitoring schedules and data quality priorities;
  2. To develop, monitor and evaluate the Specialist Children’s Services Action plan (derived as a response to performance, practice, standards, workforce, finance, complaints etc. related issues);
  3. To develop appropriate responses to Quality Assurance findings and recommendations;
  4. To analyse performance monitoring reports and agree appropriate actions to improve performance;
  5. To keep the Corporate Management Team and the Directorate Management Team (Families and Social Care) informed of any key performance management issues;
  6. To support the collection, recording, collation and reporting of relevant, useful and good quality performance data for Specialist Children’s Services;
  7. To coordinate the contribution to quarterly performance monitoring reports to Kent County Council Corporate Management Team Performance Board and Cabinet;
  8. To identify and see to address specify training needs in relation to performance management and data quality;
  9. To ensure performance information is communicated effectively both internally and externally;
  10. To respond efficiently and effectively to any new national requirements in respect to practice, policy, data submission and reporting.


Director of Specialist Children’s Services (chair)
Heads of Specialist Children’s Services
Head of Safeguarding
Head of Management Information
Finance Representative
Head of Personnel
Head of Strategic Commissioning (as required)


Appendix 3: Example of the Council's Annual Planning Cycle

Click here to view Appendix 3: Example of the Council's Annual Planning Cycle.