Working Together to Safeguard Children: Key Points and Changes

March 15, 2024
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Safeguarding is most effective when everyone works together to achieve excellent outcomes. If your role involves regular interaction with children, you must be familiar with the statutory guidance around safeguarding – a key piece of which is Working Together to Safeguard Children. This explains how to achieve best practice when working with children in various settings. When implemented effectively, it can help you to ensure robust safeguarding, with the welfare of children at the forefront of everything you do.

In this article, we will discuss the key elements of Working Together to Safeguard Children, covering some changes that came into effect in December 2023. 

What is Working Together to Safeguard Children (WTSC)?

Working Together to Safeguard Children (WTSC) provides statutory guidance for settings where work and activities relate to children. The guidance is issued by law, meaning time must be taken to understand and follow it. It is particularly relevant for settings where interactions with children are frequent, such as education and childcare providers (including the likes of sports and church groups), social services and local authorities. WTSC sits amongst other guidance and legislation, which you can read more about in our article here.

First introduced in 1999, Working Together to Safeguard Children has received various updates. Perhaps the most notable one was in 2006 as a result of the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie. Victoria was transported to the UK by her Great Aunt, and following her death, it was discovered that Victoria had reached out to various agencies seeking help for the abuse she was suffering. The guidance was redrafted to address the mistakes which Victoria’s situation had highlighted.

Since then, it has been updated every few years. Each time, an overall aim is to strengthen how different agencies and organisations work together to achieve the best safeguarding arrangements for children. 

WTSC recognises that safeguarding is most effective when everyone involved works together collaboratively. The guidance highlights the importance of multi-agency working and outlines the value of involving the whole family in the process, including the child. Additionally, the guidance aims to clarify the roles and responsibilities of those working with children in various settings so that everyone knows how to keep the children in their care safe. 

The guidance is for anyone who interacts with children as part of their role or for any organisation whose functions relate to children in any way. A full list of sectors that must follow the guidance and remain informed of any updates or changes can be found here.

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Need a Course?

High Speed Training offers various Safeguarding Courses to help you implement WTSC guidance alongside other key parts of safeguarding. These include Designated Safeguarding Lead Training, Introduction to Safeguarding Children and Advanced Safeguarding Children. 

Working Together to Safeguard Children: Key Points

The most recent version of the guidance is split into chapters which cover the following topics:

Chapter One: A Shared Responsibility

This chapter, newly introduced for the 2023 update, outlines how safeguarding should feature a child-centred approach, with the whole family remaining well-informed and involved. It sets out principles for working with parents and carers to build strong and trusting relationships and looks at how agencies are expected to collaborate, including sharing information. It also identifies the need for a strengths-based approach to effect positive change.

Chapter Two: Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements

In this chapter, the roles and responsibilities of those working with children are outlined in more detail, including leadership roles and accountability. It looks at roles within various agencies alongside those in education, voluntary organisations and sports clubs. The chapter also examines how effective multi-agency working can be achieved alongside multi-agency safeguarding arrangements (MASA).

Chapter Three: Providing Help, Support and Protection

This chapter is split into three sections:

  • Section one: Early help. This section looks in particular at the role of education and childcare settings and examines how children in need of support can be identified.
  • Section two: Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. This section focuses on children in need or at risk, such as children with disabilities, children suffering abuse and young carers. The procedures for assessment, referral and providing support to meet the needs of the child and their families and achieve good outcomes are outlined in detail.
  • Section three: Child Protection. In this section, the national multi-agency practice standards for child protection are set out. It covers the entire process of creating a child protection plan.

Chapter Four: Organisational Responsibilities

Here, the list of organisations that must conform to this statutory guidance is examined in detail, outlining their specific roles and responsibilities. It examines practice guidelines specific to each setting and clarifies the expectations for effective safeguarding and child protection. It also looks at how allegations against those in ‘positions of trust’ should be dealt with, including considering their future suitability to work with children should they be dismissed from their post. The role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is also outlined in relation to this.

Chapter Five: Learning From Serious Child Safeguarding Incidents

This chapter explains the responsibilities placed on local authorities to report safeguarding incidents. It includes guidance for Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panels, including the review process and subsequent reports. By reviewing serious safeguarding incidents, lessons can be learnt and future practice can be improved as a result.

Chapter Six: Child Death Reviews

The final chapter outlines the entire review process. It also examines the statutory requirements and responsibilities of child death review partners alongside the responsibilities of other organisations and agencies who have a role to play.

Recent Changes

The 2023 guidance update emphasises securing ‘positive, trusting and cooperative relationships’ with parents and carers. In all versions of WTSC, the importance of information sharing amongst agencies has been highlighted, and the most recent version recognises that improvements must be made to involve families more closely. It also explains the importance of considering the needs of the whole family. For example, families with English as an additional language (EAL) may require more specialist support to keep them involved and informed.

The new version of the guidance also outlines new roles within the local authority, the police and health services. It states that the head of each sector will be named the Lead Safeguarding Partner (LSP), and they must appoint a Delegated Safeguarding Partner (DSP).  It is expected that LSPs will form close relationships with representatives from the education sector, who should also be involved in any strategic decisions and planning.

The changes also include:

  • Guidance on considering the wider context of a child’s situation when making social care assessments.
  • New multi-agency practice standards to strengthen cooperation between services.
  • An explanation regarding a need for local authorities to appoint lead practitioners with the capabilities to act upon referrals by completing assessments and coordinating services.
  • An outline of the need for local authorities to appoint a Designated Social Care Officer (DSCO) to improve collaboration between social care services and the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) system.
  • Revised guidance on improving provision for disabled children and their families.
  • Guidance on recognising and responding to risk of harm to children outside the home.

You can read more about the 2023 changes and access the full guidance here.

If your role involves working with children in any capacity, safeguarding must be at the forefront of your mind and following statutory guidance is essential. Confidence in your roles and responsibilities will allow you to carry out your duties effectively, ensuring the children in your care and their families feel safe and supported.

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