On 26 February 2018, the government released their response to the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ consultation, which sought views on the proposed changes to ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ and the draft regulations required to commence the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
While not all of the changes impact schools directly, it is important that schools have an understanding of how local safeguarding arrangements will be changing.
The key points for schools
The main change impacting schools is that ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ will include an expectation that all local safeguarding arrangements contain explicit reference to how safeguarding partners plan to involve, and give voice to, all local schools and academies.
Currently, schools have a legal duty to safeguard their pupils; however, they do not need to be consulted on how other agencies deal with safeguarding – the updated statutory guidance will change this.
Despite calls from “a significant number of respondents” for schools to become a fourth safeguarding partner, the government will not go forward with this proposal because the statutory guidance is not able to amend structures set out in law.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 replaces Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with new local safeguarding arrangements, which are led by three safeguarding partners.
The following was confirmed in the consultation response in relation to safeguarding partners:
- The appropriate representatives for safeguarding partners will be clarified as:
- the LA chief executive
- the clinical commissioning group accountable officer
- chief officer of police
Some of the functions of the safeguarding partners are no different to those of the LSCBs currently. However, we don’t know if this will look different in your area.
- Some of these are:
- to provide multi-agency training.
- develop and publish a threshold document which outlines how multi-agency safeguarding arrangements work in their area.
- publish a report at least once every 12 months, setting out what they and their relevant agencies have done as a result of the safeguarding arrangements, and how effective the arrangements have been.
In relation to relevant agencies:
- The Local Safeguarding Partner Regulations will be revised to include entries for sport and religious organisations.
- The statutory guidance will be reviewed to ensure the responsibilities of agencies are clearly explained.
In relation to the involvement of schools:
- All relevant statutory guidance, including ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ will clearly explain the roles and responsibilities of schools.
- As mentioned, the statutory guidance will set the expectation that all local safeguarding arrangements contain explicit reference to how safeguarding partners plan to involve, and give voice to, all local schools and academies.
Reviews and the national panel
A new system of national and local safeguarding practice reviews will replace serious case reviews.
In relation to reviews:
- Safeguarding partners must undertake a concise investigative exercise where they receive information about a safeguarding incident within five working days of notification.
Child death reviews
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 outlines the role of child death review partners.
In relation to child death reviews, the following was confirmed:
- The child death review process will consider and identify ‘modifiable factors’, i.e. contributory factors to a death that could be modified to reduce the risk of future child deaths.
- The government intends to provide bereaved families with a key worker to act as a single point of contact during the child death review process. Clarification will also be made for how key workers should interact with family liaison officers and coroner’s officers.
- Every child’s death will be reviewed at a child death review meeting involving practitioners directly involved with the child’s care, prior to being discussed by the Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP).
- For LAC, the ‘Child Death Review Statutory Guidance’ will be amended to clarify which child death review partners are responsible for ensuring review when a LAC is placed in another area.
The transition period
In relation to the transition period:
- CDOPs will have a ‘grace period’ of up to four months following the start of the child death review partner arrangements to complete any outstanding death reviews.
- LSCBs will have a grace period of up to 12 months following the start of the safeguarding partner arrangements in which to complete and publish outstanding serious case reviews.
- Safeguarding partners will need to take into consideration information emerging from serious case reviews.
The new regulations will be debated and voted on by both Houses of Parliament in the Spring 2018.
Following this, an updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children will be published and the new safeguarding arrangements will come into effect. Local areas will have 12 months from the date of commencement to develop and publish their arrangements and an additional three months to fully implement them.