The Department for Education is currently running consultation events for updates to Working Together to Safeguard Children in light of the Children and Social Work Act 2017. Children England was fortunate to have a place at yesterday’s London session and can report some key concerns and messages arising from the process, which might be useful to those planning to respond to the consultation (strict deadline 31st December):
- New safeguarding arrangements are intended to be flexible to encourage ambitious local practice. Whilst the key partners are the local authority, police and Clinical Commissioning Group, they are encouraged to involve any other agencies they consider appropriate, and charities are encouraged to seek inclusion as relevant agencies.
- Flexibility means local partners will need to reach agreement on issues like equitable funding, thresholds and arrangements for independent scrutiny of their plans.
- There are concerns that, with partners being required to be represented by senior staff with strategic authority, the group may lack expertise in safeguarding itself, as these remits can be mutually exclusive.
- The exact inspection framework for new safeguarding arrangements is yet to be decided, but is expected to be similar to Joint Targeted Area Inspections.
- The initial transition phase of the new guidance will be important in identifying challenges and good practice. DfE is seeking ‘early adopter’ local authorities who feel they have strong ideas and practice to implement – Expression of Interest will be invited in January or February 2018.