Fortnightly Safeguarding Briefing

7th October 2019

Safeguarding Network - Confidence in safeguarding

Welcome to your latest briefing

It has been an interesting couple of weeks on the political front with party conferences in full swing. From Labour we have heard suggestions about what should happen in relation to the current private / public education split, proposals that Ofsted would be abolished replaced with a system of peer review and a revamping of the Sure Start system to name but a few. From the Conservatives we have seen commitments to create a Youth Investment Fund with a commitment to building 60 new youth centres and additional money for tackling county lines.

In this update:

  • Serious Case Review: KN15
  • Missing children
  • KCSiE Update
SCR front cover

Serious Case Review: KN15

KN15 was a 13 year old girl who died after going missing following an argument with her family. It was agreed that the circumstances of her death met a criteria for a Serious Case Review. The overview report was published in March this year, but it has recently been added to the NSPCC Serious Case Review Repository.

The case review found that whilst there had been a lot of professional involvement in the child's life there were some key learning points:

  1. Transitions - the family had undertaken a lot of moves during the child's life, she had attended multiple schools and registered with a number of different GPs. This meant that information was not always pieced together and records which were transferred were potentially incomplete.
  2. The voice of the child was lost - work that was undertaken with the child was limited in focus and her wider behaviours were not considered as signs of distress and in one case labelled as "attention seeking". The review comments that "the understanding of KN15's lived experience was limited."
  3. Parental engagement - the review found that the level of engagement from mother and mother's partner varied greatly. Limited information sharing meant that the inconsistencies in how they presented and what they were saying was not picked up.
  4. Adult mental health - KN15's mother developed a relationship with a new partner. It was widely known that he had mental health issues, but the nature and extent of these were not known (e.g. what the diagnosis was, what this meant for his role as an adult in the family). This meant that the role that this played in family dynamics was not known and not included when considering needs.
  5. Effectiveness of interventions - whilst arguably influenced by the issues already identified, the review also noted that when there was involvement with KN15 and her family, there was little by way of formal assessment and plans. This meant that there was no measure by which change could be judged and, whilst there was a verbal plan, this was never written down meaning that again change could not be evidenced against the plan.
  6. Communication between agencies - the review noted that whilst there were times when there was good communication, on a number of occasions agencies did not follow advice given or did not act on information that they had access to.

In reading the overview report there is little that has not been seen in previous reviews. It is therefore important that we focus on ensuring that current practice is as good as well informed as it can be. Safeguarding Network can help keep your staff up to date, with subscribing schools having access to our update packages.

Empty swing

Missing children

One of the issues that the review referred to above was that KN15 had a history of being missing, and that there were occasions when her parents had not reported her as missing to the Police. For KN15 it appears that these missing episodes started when she was 11 and would last for 1-2 hours at a time.

We know that there can be a number of push and pull factors that lead to children going missing - in the case of KN15 it appears that the home environment and things that she felt were happening were the driver for her leaving the home. For other children and young people it can be the lure of things that they are being offered with this being potential grooming for criminal exploitation.

It is important that we consider missing episodes, no matter how brief, when thinking about what we know about a child. As the review for KN15 identifies it all contributes to a wider understanding of the lived experience of the child and professional curiosity should by used to challenge our thinking. Labelling, which was also key in the case of KN15 can distort our perceptions, wrongly reassuring us or giving us false hope (for example labelling someone streetwise).

Safeguarding Network has a page relating to missing children, and subscribing schools can download and run our update package with staff.

KCSiE Update

On the 1st October there was a small change to the text of Keeping Children Safe in Education with paragraphs 164 and 165 being updated. These are in Part 3 (Safer Recruitment) and specifically refer to the legal duty on schools and colleges to refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service in specific situations. The changes arguably represent a tidying up of the text, with the two new paragraphs being as follows:

  1. The DBS will consider whether to bar the person. Detailed guidance on when to refer to the DBS, and what information must be provided, can be found on GOV.UK.
  2. Referrals should be made as soon as possible, and ordinarily on conclusion of an investigation, when an individual is removed from regulated activity. This could include when an individual is suspended, redeployed to work that is not regulated activity, dismissed or when they have resigned. When an allegation is made, an investigation should be carried out to gather enough evidence to establish if it has foundation, and employers should ensure they have sufficient information to meet the referral duty criteria explained in the DBS referral guidance, which can be found on GOV.UK.

There is no underlying change to the requirements of when to refer or the processes that should be followed.

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