A pilot testing whether placing social workers in schools reduces referrals to children’s social care has been extended to 21 council areas.
Practitioners will be placed in between five and eight secondary schools in each area – with a further five-eight schools per area serving as a control group – in the What Works for Children’s Social Care project, backed by £6.5m of Department for Education cash.
A What Works pilot in three areas found that the intervention appeared to reduce section 47 child protection enquiries in two areas – Lambeth and Southampton – and reduced initiations of section 17 children in need cases in the third, Stockport, though researchers stressed these were tentative findings.
An evaluation of the initial pilot also found that the initiative was felt to be successful by professionals across education and children’s social care, children young people and families. Social workers were deployed in a variety of ways across the three areas – with some embedded in schools and others working remotely – and undertook a wide range of work, from early intervention to the Public Law Outline.
The expansion of the pilot was due to cover 10 authorities but has been extended to more than double that amount because of the high level of interest. It is due to run from the start of the autumn term next month to next March. Authorities are currently recruiting to the posts, either on a year-long contract or a six-month basis.
The councils covered by the scheme are not evenly distributed, with nine in London, four in the North West, three in the South West, two in each of the North East and West Midlands, one in Yorkshire and the Humber and none in either of the East Midlands or the Eastern region. They are:
- Tower Hamlets