Bolton Council undertakes new project to provide supervision to Designated Safeguarding Leads

07 August 2019

A new pilot project providing supervision to Designated Safeguarding Leads in Bolton’s primary schools will begin shortly.

What Works for Children’s Social Care and Bolton Council, today announced the launch of a new project which will test a new model for supporting schools in their duties to safeguard children and young people.

As part of the project, up to half of the Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) in Bolton primary schools will receive supervision from an experienced senior social worker. DSLs are staff members within each school tasked with ensuring the safety of young people and working with social services where appropriate.
It is hoped that this will lead to more timely referrals to social services, and referrals that appropriately minimise social services involvement in family life, and more provision of early help to support families that might be struggling.

This project is an important milestone for What Works for Children’s Social Care (WW-CSC). This project is the first of its kind for the Centre and has been devised by a principal social worker at Bolton Council. The council successfully bid for funding from WW-CSC for the project and will use the money awarded to pay for a social worker to carry out the supervision. In the future, the Centre hopes to be involved in more projects based on promising ideas promoted by those in the profession.
This project is also the first where WW-CSC has commissioned an independent evaluator to design and evaluate a randomised controlled trial. Following a competitive process conducted in March, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has been appointed as the evaluator.

NIESR brings a huge amount of expertise in evaluation, and in randomised trials in particular, to this project and WW-CSC are thrilled to be working with them.

Michael Sanders, Executive Director of What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“I’m pleased to see this research getting off the ground. This is an important project for us, as the idea came from social workers in Bolton themselves recognising the potential benefits of more supervision for DSLs and wanting to test the idea out. I’ll be excited to follow the trial and see what the results say.”

Executive Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Christine Wild, added:
“We are really pleased to be working with the centre on this new project.
The role of a DSL is challenging as they are the main point of contact in schools tasked with ensuring the safety of young people.
The funding will help us to provide supervisory support. Schools who will benefit will be chosen randomly and we will actively monitor progress and outcomes.
This is a great opportunity to help meet the needs of Bolton’s children, families and communities.”

Lucy Stokes, Principal Economist, Education and Labour Directorate, NIESR, said:
“We are delighted to be evaluating the impact of this project providing support to Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools. We are genuinely excited about this opportunity to add to the evidence base on what works in children’s social care and to inform the development of policy and practice in this vital area.”

The project is part of a larger programme of work investigating different ways of encouraging education and children’s social care to work together. This week, WW-CSC will be publishing the interim reports from a pilot study placing social workers in schools in Lambeth, Southampton and Stockport. In a time of ever greater multi-agency working, WW-CSC is pleased to be able to contribute to this body of work.

Trial protocols will be published in the coming weeks.