The development of the 10 principles started at the end of 2018 and was the outcome of a reflective learning event for safeguarding partners. It draws on the learning from local and national serious case reviews and the contribution of safeguarding leads from schools, CCG and health professionals, police and children's social care. The Principles are underpinned by the following messages for improving practice:
It was also clear from the start that we wanted to convey the 10 Principles from the experience of the child which resulted in the development of the "Please Listen" animation.
The 10 Principles are also embedded in the e-learning module and conveyed through 10 case scenarios based on serious case reviews published in the last two years.
Effective record keeping is vital to identify any risks or problems that have arisen, and the steps taken to deal with them, so that colleagues who use the records have all the information they need to inform their decision making. Organisations must ensure staff are given guidance, time and support with documenting children’s records as part of the child protection policies which comes under Section 11 requirements under the Children Act 2004.
Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it, whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose. Further details are available in the guidance on information sharing for people who provide safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers.
The following principles for record keeping draw on learning from research and the findings of serious case reviews to highlight some of the common pitfalls in recording for both practitioners and managers.
Pitfalls and how to avoid them:
1. Case records are out of date
2. The child is "missing" from the record, often for the following reasons:
3. Facts and professional judgements are not distinguished in the record
4. Lack of clarity about the function and purpose of recording
5. The record is not used as a tool for analysis
6. Recording is not an integral part of performance management
An all too common theme in Serious Case Reviews is to assume that someone else is doing something, and therefore there is no need for the individual to take action. Here are some examples from the most recent triennial analysis of SCRs:
1. Thresholds for referral and assessments
3. Backgrounds, culture and beliefs
4. Lack of professional curiosity
Working Together guidance refers to serious case reviews having highlighted that missed opportunities to record, understanding the significance of and share information in a timely manner can have severe consequences for the safety and welfare of children. It sets out that:
Information sharing and communication
The top key learning point in the most recent triennial analysis of SCRs report was the information sharing and communication between professionals, and highlighted the need for:
To effectively share information:
Working Together 2018 clearly sets out the need for the three safeguarding partners (local authority, police and health) and relevant agencies to ‘challenge appropriately and hold one another to account effectively’. There should also be local arrangements in place clearly setting out escalation policies and how disputes will be resolved.
A central component of the SCR process is understanding the perspective of frontline practitioners and the opportunities and challenges about the 'system' within which they work to analyse why incidents occurred and the contributory factors rather than just what occurred.
Examples of learning from recently published reviews are listed below:
The first annual report of the national child safeguarding review panel found that:
1. Children subject to care proceedings
2. Effective multi-agency partnership working
3. Lead professional
Case reviews show that communication barriers can sometimes prevent professionals from effectively assessing, supporting and protecting families. The learning from these reviews highlight that efforts should always be made to resolve barriers of communication, between professionals and in the direct work with children and their families to ensure that they are effectively safeguarded.
1. Professional communication
It is recognised that different professional perspectives within safeguarding practice is a sign of a healthy and well functioning partnership, as it reflects an open approach and honest relationships between professionals. Professional differences could arise in a number of areas of multi-agency working as well as within single agency working such as:
Working Together 2018 sets out that:
2. Effective communication with children and their families
NSPCC provide a summary of risk factors for improved practice around people whose first learning is not English. Summary of risk factors and learning for improved practice around people whose first language is not English, which covers the following learning points from SCRs:
3. How to have difficult conversations with children and young people
NSPCC have produced a range of resources to support practitioners to have difficult conversations with children and young people that can be accessed here
SCR learning highlights how behaviours can influence interactions and decisions to safeguard the child which might include reluctance, disguised compliance or open hostility.
Presenting issues can be additionally complex when families’ involvement in services is accompanied by fear or anxiety about the consequences. In these scenarios, professionals can find their practice, approach and perceptions challenged in various ways and will need support in managing their responses
1. Authoritative practice
2. Negative experiences of statutory agencies
3. Disguised compliance
4. Working with fathers
5, How to identify disguised compliance:
The video clips below provide further learning from SCRs about working with resistant, hostile and challenging families, disguised compliance and working with fathers or other significant male carers who have previous criminal convictions of violence.
The challenges facing practitioners are strongly evident in the SCRs and when practitioners are working with deeply disturbing cases, it is critical that organisations support and safeguard their staff effectively so that they can safeguard children confidently.
2. Service changes
4. Debriefs and support systems
5. Multi-agency training
Working Together 2018 sets out that everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe, and specifically:
The S.11 duty under the Children Act 2004, sets out that organisations and agencies should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including:
A key message from SCRs is that professionals should not only look at what has happened to the children in the past and what that implies for their needs now, but also to look to the future for what it means for the help they are likely to need as they grow up.
The importance of observing and listening to children was highlighted in this example from the Triennial Analysis of SCRs:
The examples of not listening to children’s voices, and being deflected from them by the needs and behaviour of the parents/carers is an often repeated SCR finding.
The triennial analysis of SCRs concluded that:
Working Together summarises what children themselves have said that they need: