Social workers should be freed from central government red tape to allow them to focus on the needs of children, an independent review has recommended.
Excessive bureaucracy and box-ticking exercises have hampered professionals in this area, Professor Eileen Munro suggested in a report commissioned after the death of Baby Peter.
Presenting her proposals, she argued that local areas should have more freedom to design their own child protection services, moving away from the "one-size-fits-all approach".
Asked if this shift from a top-down, target-driven culture could help prevent a repeat of tragedies such as Peter Connelly's death in August 2007, Prof Munro said: "Yes, the tick-box system stifles thinking. These changes would reduce the number of such child deaths, it won't eradicate them."
When mistakes are made, a new approach is needed to learn from them, she added.
Serious case reviews, carried out when a child dies or is seriously harmed, should focus more on why they were not protected and less on what happened.
Prof Munro, of the London School of Economics, said: "A one-size-fits-all approach is not the right way for child protection services to operate. Top-down government targets and too many forms and procedures are preventing professionals from being able to give children the help they need and assess whether that help has made a difference.
"That is why I am recommending that unhelpful targets for completing assessments within a set timescale are removed. Professionals should instead concentrate on making good-quality assessments that really focus on delivering the right help for the child and checking whether that help has improved the child's life."
Ofsted said it was encouraging to see the report's recognition of inspection as a "key contributor in driving improvement in child protection". A spokeswoman said: "This builds on the focus and the strengths of our current inspection programme. Ofsted looks forward to working with the Government to develop the implementation of the key proposals in this review."
The Children's Commissioner for England also voiced support for the proposals. Dr Maggie Atkinson said she welcomed the emphasis on the child's right to protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.