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Society

Supporting and engaging schools in decision-making and multi-agency working for the protection and safeguarding of children

Purpose

This research examined the effectiveness of multi-agency working to protect and safeguard children, focusing on the role of schools, including changes to governance, and the restructuring of child protection and safeguarding services and Local Safeguarding Children Boards. Aspects included information sharing; advice and support to schools; referrals to local authority (LA) children’s services; engagement in multi-agency working, and structural differences in relationships between schools and agencies.

Timescale

2017 – 2020

Funding

Economic and Social Research Council

Methods

Phase 1 included scoping interviews with local authorities and key stakeholders; Phase 2 involved a national survey of all leads in LA education services, children’s social care services and LSCBs; in Phase 3 case studies were conducted in 50 schools in five local authority areas and eight schools in a national multi-academy trust.

Findings

Two contextual influences were schools’ autonomy and arrangements with LAs and the impact of austerity. Overall, schools were satisfied with LA support and training. Despite the emergence of academies and greater school autonomy nearly all LAs maintained a support service for all schools and there were no discernable differences between safeguarding practice in academies and LA-maintained schools nor their use of LA services. Changes that could strengthen schools’ engagement included additional training; access to information systems; greater clarity about teachers’ competence and confidence; increased transparency over LA assessment processes; sufficiently resourced ‘early help’; and improved communication between schools and other agencies.

See also

Keeping children safe under COVID-19

Project status: Completed

Principal investigators

Mary Baginsky

Senior Research Fellow

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