Government consultation on Working together guidance Summary of proposed changes to England's statutory safeguarding guidance Working together to safeguard children and new regulations

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This briefing outlines the main changes set out in the Department for Education consultation on significant revisions to Working together to safeguard children – the statutory guidance which sets out what is expected of organisations, individually and jointly, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in England.

These revisions are being made to reflect the legislative changes introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017. 

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 31 December 2017. 


About the consultation

The Department for Education has revised the guidance Working together to safeguard children: guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, to include the changes needed to support the new system of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements established by the Children and Social Work Act 2017. These changes relate to the:

  • replacement of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with local safeguarding partners
  • establishment of a new national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel 
  • transfer of responsibility for child death reviews from LSCBs to new Child Death Review Partners.

Views are also sought on 2 sets of statutory instruments (regulations):

  • the Local Safeguarding Partner (Relevant Agencies) (England) Regulations
  • the National and Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review (England) Regulations.

Key findings

There are a lot of changes set out in the proposed guidance and regulations. We have pulled out and detailed 4 of the most significant changes below.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 replaces Local Safeguarding Children Boards with new local safeguarding arrangements, led by three safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups). The Act places a duty on those partners to make arrangements for themselves and relevant agencies to work together for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area.

Safeguarding partners will have the flexibility to determine:

  • geographical boundaries for the arrangements in their area (which may include two or more local authority areas)
  • organisation of safeguarding arrangements. The safeguarding partners will be responsible for determining bespoke arrangements which best suit their local area and publishing them
  • which relevant agencies they should work with and how safeguarding arrangements should work in their area. “Relevant agencies” is a term for all bodies and groups whose functions play a crucial role in coordinating the safeguarding and welfare of children. The draft Statutory Instrument “The Local Safeguarding Partner (Relevant Agencies) (England) Regulations” lists relevant agencies.  (Read the draft regulation in Annexe A of the consultation document Changes to statutory guidance: Working Together to Safeguard Children; and new regulations: Government consultation)
  • schools and other educational partners. All schools, including maintained, non-maintained and independent schools, academies and free schools, have duties in relation to safeguarding children and promoting their welfare
  • arrangements to provide for independent scrutiny into how effective their arrangements have been
  • securing appropriate and sustainable funding for their arrangements
  • dispute resolution. Safeguarding partners and relevant agencies must comply with the arrangements for their area, and will be expected to work together to resolve any disputes locally.
  • information requests. Safeguarding partners may require any person or body to provide them with specified information which they deem necessary to fulfil their duties of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of children in their area.

Safeguarding partners must arrange for the review of serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues of importance in relation to their area.

Safeguarding partners must also publish a report at least once in every twelve month period which details what they have done as a result of their published arrangements, and how effective those arrangements have been in responding to the needs of children in their area.

The guidance set out arrangements for a new system of national and local child safeguarding practice reviews, which will replace serious case reviews, and the establishment of a new national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

Safeguarding partners will be responsible for identifying serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues of importance in relation to their area, and commissioning reviews of those cases where they consider it appropriate to do so.

Serious child safeguarding cases’ are those in which: abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected; the child has died or been seriously harmed. ‘Serious harm’ includes serious or long-term impairment of mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It should also cover instances of impairment of physical health.

Local child safeguarding practice reviews

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 provides that the purpose of local child safeguarding practice reviews is to identify any improvements that should be made locally to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

When the safeguarding partners receive information about the known or suspected abuse or neglect of a child in their area, where death or serious harm has occurred, they should undertake a concise investigative exercise to understand both the relevant circumstances and the involvement of local agencies. This should be completed, and a decision taken on next steps, within five working days of receipt of this information and any immediate learning shared appropriately.

When the initial investigative exercise is complete, the safeguarding partners should send a copy of the findings to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. When they do so, they should also advise the Panel whether in principle they already consider that a local child safeguarding practice review is appropriate or not. The Panel will consider the information and will advise the safeguarding partners whether they intend to undertake a national child safeguarding practice review.

The draft Statutory Instrument “the National and Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review (England) Regulations” sets out proposed provisions covering criteria for national and local reviews, and on reviewers and reports. (See Annexe B in the consultation document Changes to statutory guidance: Working Together to Safeguard Children; and new regulations: Government consultation).

National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 provides for the establishment of a national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

The Panel is responsible for commissioning and supervising reviewers for national child safeguarding practice reviews, where cases raise issues that are complex or of national importance.

The Panel will receive notification of all child safeguarding cases where a child has died or is seriously harmed, as well as copies of all completed local reviews. Using this data as well as other available evidence, the Panel will be responsible for identifying improvements which should be made locally or nationally to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

At a national level, the ownership of government policy for child death and related issues will be transferred from the Department for Education to the Department of Health.

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 establishes the role of child death review partners.

Child death review partners (the local authority and all or part of any clinical commissioning group which falls within the local authority area) will assume responsibility for reviewing and analysing the circumstances of death of any child normally resident in their area.

The guidance includes minor clarifications and amendments, which are not part of the consultation. These include:

  • the addition of a short paragraph about ‘Sports Clubs’ in the ‘Organisational Responsibilities’ section
  • updating the guidance to align with the new special education needs (SEN) provisions.

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