Governance and Quality Assurance

Striving to be the best

At Acorn we continually strive to provide the very best educational and residential care for children with complex needs. We look to measure our performance, review our practices and assess current legislation and best practice to improve the services we provide.

Our Quality Committee, overseen by an independent chairperson, meets quarterly to oversee, monitor, review and report on the quality of education and care services provided by Acorn. The Quality Committee will also provide assurance to the Board that efficient and effective systems are in place and the associated processes are working well.

The Committee undertakes a number of roles with regard to governance and assurance. Amongst other activities the committee review the following:

  • The Group’s quality assurance policies and governance.
  • Quarterly quality assurance reports provided by the Executive Team.
  • Minutes from the Group’s Health and Safety Committee.
  • Actions proposed by the Executive Team to improve the quality of services or address issues.
  • Operational quality and safety performance and identify any issues and risks requiring discussion or decision by the Board.
  • Setting of quality improvement targets and the action plans put in place to achieve them, by reviewing the progress made against these targets and plans.
  • Externally commissioned reviews of quality and outcomes in the Group to support or improve the Executive Team’s responses and action plans.


The Quality Committee also takes a lead monitoring performance and implementing change by:

  • Highlighting risks and opportunities to improve practice across the Group.
  • Providing oversight and scrutiny of quality assurance activities, processes and outcomes across all divisions of the Group.
  • Supporting the Executive Team in shaping or trouble-shooting particular quality or outcome areas.
  • Drawing on the experience of individuals from outside the Group with relevant expertise if necessary
  • Review very specific issues as requested by the Board.

Quality Committee

The current independent Chair is Jane Held (former DCS of Camden local authority and current Chair of the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board). Committee members are the Chief Executive Officer of Acorn Care Education Group (ACE), the Director of Policy, Quality and Outcomes and an ACE Non Executive Director with extensive senior management experience within education.

Jane Held

Jane Held, Independent Chair

Jane Held is a former Director of Social Services in Camden and prior to that in Southend-on-Sea. Her background is in social work, and she began her career working in children’s homes in Scotland. She held a range of management roles between 1979 and 1991. She was also co-chair of the Children and Families Committee of the Association of Directors of Social Services (the Professional Association) for three years.

After retiring from local government service in 2004 she set up an independent consultancy service specialising in Children’s Services, and in particular safeguarding policy and practice. Since then she has worked on contracts with a variety of local and national bodies including government and regulators. She has participated in a range of major national reviews and inquiries including the Savile Inquiry. She mainly focusses on how to improve what we do, and how system change and system transformation can be used to underpin radical change, improved outcomes and deliver continuous improvement.

Formerly Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board, currently she is the Independent Chair of both the Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board and the Milton Keynes Safeguarding Children and Safeguarding Adults Boards. She is also Independent Chair of the Medway Improvement Board and until November 2015 was the Vice-Chair of the National Children’s Bureau.