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Children: Social Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 125329, tabled on 18 February 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps is he taking to ensure referrals from schools to children’s social care services are responded to (a) appropriately and (b) promptly.

Answered on

28 February 2022

Statutory guidance sets out respectively what school staff should do if they have concerns about a child’s welfare and how children’s social care services should respond to referrals. ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (2021) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2. ‘Working together to safeguard children’ (2018) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2.

Where a child is suffering harm, or likely to suffer harm, a referral to children’s social care should be made immediately. Referrals should follow the local referral process.

Within one working day of the receipt of referral, a social worker should acknowledge receipt to the referrer and decide the next steps. Feedback should be given to the referrer and the former guidance places the onus on the referrer to follow up if this information is not received. If, after a referral, the child’s situation does not appear to be improving, the school should consider escalating their concerns via local processes to ensure that matters of concern have been addressed and the child’s situation has improved.

The latter guidance sets out that local authorities, with their safeguarding partners, should develop and publish local protocols for assessment. The local protocol should set out clear arrangements for how cases will be managed once a child is referred to local authority social care and must be consistent with the requirements of the statutory guidance.

Joint Targeted Area Inspections (JTAIs), carried out jointly by Ofsted, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, the Chief Inspector of Probation for England & Wales, and the Care Quality Commission, provide a rigorous assessment of the quality of safeguarding arrangements in a local area.