Consultation on changes to Working Together to Safeguard Children

4th September 2023

The Department for Education (DfE) recently launched its consultation on the proposed changes to the ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (WT)  statutory guidance.

Working Together to Safeguard Children outlines how practitioners working with children, young people and families should work together in order to ensure that children and young people remain safe from harm. The guidance, originally published in 1999, sets out how all agencies and professionals should work together to promote children’s welfare and protect them from abuse and neglect.

The WT guidance places an obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of children on a wide range of institutes and organisations including.

  • All schools, Early Years providers, colleges and other educational settings
  • Voluntary, charity, social enterprise and faith-based organisations
  • Sport clubs and organisations including voluntary and private sector providers that deliver a wide range of sporting activities to children.

These organisations, through the services they deliver, play an important role in safeguarding children and are required to have clear policies and procedures in place to safeguard and protect children from harm.

Why is the guidance being updated?

The WT guidance was last revised in July 2018 – with a limited factual update in 2020. Updating the WT guidance now is key to the Government’s plan to transform children’s social care, as set out in the recently published children’s social care reform strategy ‘Stable Home, Built on Love.’

The DfE have said that updating the WT guidance “is central to delivering on the first phase of this transformation journey, implementing strengthened multi-agency working across the whole system of help, support, and protection for children and their families, re-balancing the system towards early intervention, and ensuring strong, effective, and consistent child protection practice”.

The consultation, which closes on 6 September 2023, asks respondents to review the existing guidance for safeguarding children and families, their views on how organisations work together and share information including the role of education in safeguarding, and their views on proposed changes in the ways organisations support families.

What changes are planned?

The planned changes for the WT statutory guidance are categorised into four key sections:

  • A shared endeavour introduces expectations for effective multi-agency working and practice principles for working with parents and carers.
  • Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements “clarifies roles and responsibilities, introduces a partnership chair and deepens accountability and transparency”.
  • Help and support for children and their families includes stronger expectations on early help and family networks and emphasises support for disabled children.
  • Decisive multi-agency child protection introduces new national multi-agency ‘child protection standards’ for practitioners and approaches to harm outside the home.

What does this mean for your organisation?

The DfE has announced that it will publish a document in the winter of 2023, summarising the responses received during the Working Together to Safeguard Children consultation.

Once the updated guidance is published organisations will need to review their current safeguarding policies, procedures and training to ensure that they are up to date and reflect any changes. We will continue to provide updates on significant changes to be aware of once known.

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