Funding announced to extend projects supporting schools to work better with children’s social care

11 April 2022

What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) is pleased to announce the extension of funding from the Department for Education (DfE) for two key school focused projects until the end of the 2021/2022 academic year. WWCSC’s Social Worker in Schools (SWIS) programme and a programme that sees a social worker support and supervise Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) have received further funding. This will enable the projects to continue to support staff and children in hundreds of schools across England until the end of the school year. 

The funding announcement comes after the successful scale-up of the projects in 2020, following promising pilot programmes. 

SWIS places a social worker within a school, with the aim that they work more effectively with education colleagues, children and families. The current scale-up sees social workers placed in schools in 21 local authorities across England. 

The Supervision for DSL programme provides DSLs in schools with regular access to a social worker to discuss any issues or seek advice on situations relating to child safety within their school. The initiative aims to reduce DSL stress levels and anxiety, whilst also improving knowledge and understanding of children’s social care processes and issues. One strand of the programme has a particular focus on identifying and addressing child sexual abuse (CSA).

In addition to extending the provision of support to schools, children and families until the end of the current school year, the funding will also allow for the extension of the independent evaluations of the programmes, conducted by CASCADE at Cardiff University, and NIESR. This will allow for greater and richer data to be collected on the effectiveness of the approaches.

David Westlake, Senior Research Fellow, CASCADE at Cardiff University, said:

The Social Workers in Schools scale up is proving to be a fascinating innovation to be involved in. The decision to extend it means our study – The SWIS Trial – will now include data across two full academic years. This will help to ensure we learn as much as we can about how the intervention works and the impact it is having for children and families across many areas of England. Our team of researchers at Cardiff University, along with our colleagues at Oxford, are looking forward to sharing our main findings in January 2023.

A social worker placed in a school in Lambeth, said:

‘I am so grateful the SWIS project has been extended. My role in the school allows me to get to know young people and work closely with them and their families in a way I have not been able to before. Job satisfaction is incredible and I’ve found the direct work that can be done with children is far more in depth then a usual social work team. It also allows for young people to have direct access to me to share worries and concerns that I can support with.’

Jermaine Ravalier, Director of Programmes, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“The funding extension for both SWIS and DSLs not only enables social workers to stay in their assigned schools longer and continue their work with children and young people, but will also enable us to gather more data and deepen our research, which in turn will provide richer evidence to evaluate and hopefully identify key outcomes to assist in supporting children, young people and their families.”