Last Updated on 25th June 2024

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19th December 2023

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The latest update to the guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children has been released by the Department for Education. It replaces the previous guidance (often referred to as simply ‘Working Together’) released in 2018. Below, we provide a summary of the key updates and additions.

What is the Working Together to Safeguard Children guidance and who is it for?

Working Together to Safeguard Children is a guide to multi-agency working to “help, protect and promote the welfare of children”. It covers topics such as child protection, multi-agency safeguarding arrangements and organisational responsibilities. The guidance is for leaders, managers and frontline practitioners of all organisations and agencies who work with children. It is statutory in England and must be followed by law unless there is a good reason not to.

What has changed in 2023?

This is a new chapter that underscores the importance of a multi-agency approach to achieve positive results for children. It highlights the need for effective collaboration with parents, caregivers and families, and outlines principles and expectations for individuals, agencies, and organisations in achieving this.
Chapter two includes substantiative changes that aim to strengthen how local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements work in protecting and safeguarding children.

Key changes include:

  • Defining roles and their responsibilities
  • Distinguishing Lead Safeguarding Partners from Delegated Safeguarding Partners
  • The introduction of a partnership chair role
  • Highlighting the role of education in safeguarding arrangements
  • Clarified expectations for information-sharing, scrutiny, funding, and reporting, to enhance accountability
This chapter of Working Together to Safeguard Children renews focus on how organisations and agencies provide help, safeguarding and protection for children and their families, within three distinct sections.

  • Early Help – This section strengthens the role of education and childcare settings in supporting children and keeping them safe, including details on a child’s right to education and the risk factors for practitioners to consider when identifying children and families who may benefit. It also underpins the importance of working with families and outlines the role of family networks.
  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children – There is further clarification included on the broad range of practitioners who can be the lead for children and families receiving support and services under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 (the Act that places duty on local authorities to safeguard children in need), and requirements for local authorities and their partners to agree and set out local governance arrangements. The role of children’s social care is also clarified in relation to supporting disabled children and their families, children at risk of, or experiencing harm outside of the home, children in mother and baby units, and children at risk from people in prison and people supervised by the probation service.
  • Child protection – The child protection section introduces new multi-agency child protection standards, including actions, considerations and behaviours for improved child protection practice and outcomes for children. It also clarifies multi-agency responses to all forms of abuse and exploitation outside of the home, consideration of children at risk of experiencing extra-familial harm in all children’s social care assessments, and includes resources to support practitioners understanding of the response to online harm.
Chapter four includes changes to the Prison and Probation section that highlight the mutual benefits of exchanging information with children’s social care in order to strengthen and clarify processes, and responsibilities for child safeguarding.
A new addition clarifies the expectation for keeping in touch with care leavers over the age of 21, and the non-mandatory reporting of care leaver deaths up to age 25 with the aim of improving learning and outcomes.
Changes to the final chapter of Working together to safeguard children contains only factual changes, such as updating references to guidance that has been changed, created, or renamed in the past five years.

The History of Changes to ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children

You can read the full summary of changes and statutory guidance here.

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