As early years practitioners, you will be only too aware that no single person can safeguard children. It is only when we understand that working together is of paramount importance that we can ensure the wellbeing, safety, and protection of those in our care who are most vulnerable. 

Schools, early years and childcare settings, and other educational providers all have a pivotal role to play in safeguarding children and promoting their welfare. Your insight and co-operation is vital to the successful delivery of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. When services work effectively together, they can provide coordinated support tailored to the child’s needs, preventing duplication, ensuring consistency, and minimising gaps in care. 

Adults working in educational settings play an important role in building relationships, identifying concerns, and providing direct support to children. In fact, they may be the first trusted adults to whom children report safeguarding concerns. 

The updated statutory guidance, "Working Together to Safeguard Children" is central to delivering on the Government’s commitment strategy set out in "Stable Homes, built on love" (2023), which outlines every child deserves to grow up in a stable and loving home.  

Children, who need help and protection, deserve high quality and effective support. This requires all those working directly with them to be clear about their own, and each other’s, roles and responsibilities, and how we need to work together. 

Safeguarding: What’s New 

This is a statutory guidance which should be complied with in its entirety, to all education providers, including childcare settings, unless exceptional circumstances arise and apply, 

The guidance emphasises the importance of strengthening multi-agency working across the whole system, including support and protection for children and their families.  

Safeguarding practitioners should have agreed, consistent and effective multi-agency child protection practices which have a child-centred approach incorporating a whole-family focus. 

The updated guidance is now broken down into 6 chapters: 

Chapter 1: A Shared Responsibility 

Chapter 2: Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements 

Chapter 3: Providing Help, Support and Protection 

Chapter 4: Organisational Responsibilities 

Chapter 5: Learning from Serious Child Safeguarding Incidents 

Chapter 6: Child Death Reviews 

The key changes and updates cover: 

Clarification of roles and responsibilities (Chapter 1) 

Structured across three levels: 

  • Strategic leaders (Chief Executives) 
  • Senior leaders (Headteacher/Managers) 
  • Direct practice (Frontline) 

Support for disabled children (Chapter 2) 

Practitioners should recognise the additional pressures on families and the challenges they may have had to negotiate as a result of their child’s disability. 

Any assessment process should focus on the needs of the child and family, be strengths-based, and gather information to inform decisions on the help needed to achieve the best outcome for the child and family. 

Working with parents/families (Chapter 2) 

Focus on improving family functioning and developing the family’s capacity to establish positive routines and solve problems.  

Expectations for all practitioners (Chapter 3) 

Introduces a set of multi-agency expectations for safeguarding and child protection practitioners, split over three sectors: early help, safeguarding, and promoting the welfare of children, and child protection. 

Multi-agency practice standards (Chapter 3) 

Introduces new national multi-agency practice standards for all practitioners working in services and settings that come into contact with children. They provide clear guidelines for practice and set out expectations for professionals, ensuring consistent and effective child protection across the board. 

Education and childcare partners (Chapter 3) 

Highlighting the role of education and childcare settings which includes that safeguarding partners should work closely with education and childcare settings to share information, identify, and understand risks of harm, and ensure children and families receive timely support. 

Tackling extra familial harm (Appendix A) 

Consideration of the needs, experiences and vulnerabilities of the individuals or groups who are experiencing, or are at risk of experiencing, harm outside the home – including child exploitation, (CCS and CSE), or serious violence. 

Updated Definitions 

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children now refers to: 

  • Protecting children from maltreatment, whether the risk of harm comes from within the child’s family and/or outside (from the wider community), including online.  
  • Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development. 
  • Ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. 
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes. 

Extra-familial harm refers to: 

  • Children may be at risk of or experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional abuse and exploitation in contexts outside their families.   

While there is no legal definition for the term extra-familial harm, it is widely used to describe different forms of harm that occur outside the home. These could include a range of environments outside the family home in which harm can occur e.g. peer groups, school, and community/public spaces, including known places in the community where there are concerns about risks to children (for example, parks, housing estates, shopping centres, takeaway restaurants, or transport hubs), as well as online, including social media or gaming platforms. 

What Should You Do Now? 

Remember, safeguarding children is a collective responsibility. Whether you are a safeguarding practitioner, teacher or early years practitioner, your collaboration contributes to a safer environment for children.  

Let’s continue to work together to protect our future generation by: 

  • Ensuring all key stakeholders read the latest statutory guidance "Working Together to Safeguard Children" and are clear about their own, and each other’s roles and responsibilities, and how we need to work together. 
  • Understanding the importance for collaboration and information sharing, as it enables the exchange of vital details about a child’s circumstances, history, and risks. This shared knowledge enhances decision-making and helps create a protective safety net. 
  • Reflecting on the ‘good assessment’ guidance within your safeguarding teams. 
  • Reviewing relevant policies, procedures and considering what training is required to upskill staff. 

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

About the author:

Yvonne Sinclair: Award-Winning Safeguarding Consultant, Trainer & Founder of Safeguarding Support Ltd. Expert in Education & Child Protection.

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