Local Authorities participating in scale-up of Social Workers in Schools announced

20 August 2020

What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) is delighted to announce the 21 local authorities in England who will receive funding to place social workers in their schools to help reduce referral rates to children’s social care, in an expansion of a previous pilot which showed promise.

The scale-up of this project is part of a wider programme of work announced by the Department for Education in May of this year, to provide up to £9.9 million to fund research by What Works for Children’s Social Care to improve the lives of children and young people in England who have had a social worker. The programme initially planned to fund the evaluation in ten local authorities, but following high levels of interest, the project has been expanded to cover 21 local authorities:

  • Croydon Council
  • Cumbria County Council
  • Devon County Council
  • Ealing Council
  • Gateshead Council
  • Haringey Council
  • Harrow Council
  • (Kingston upon) Hull City Council
  • Lambeth Council
  • Merton Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • Salford City Council
  • Somerset County Council
  • Southwark Council
  • Staffordshire County Council
  • Sutton Council
  • Swindon Borough Council
  • Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council
  • Tower Hamlets Council
  • Wirral Council
  • City of Wolverhampton Council

Social workers will be placed in between five and eight secondary schools in each local authority, with a further five to eight schools in each local authority serving as a control group. The project will run until March 2021, and the participating local authorities are currently recruiting social workers to work in the schools. The impact of placing social workers in schools on reducing referral rates to children’s social care will be evaluated by CASCADE, the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre at Cardiff University, with findings expected in 2021.

Following promising results from an earlier pilot run by WWCSC, this project will evaluate whether having social workers embedded within a secondary school has the potential to reduce referral rates to children’s social care, and reduce the numbers of Section 17 or Section 47 investigations, along with the overarching aim of reducing the number of children in care and improving educational attainment. The project is also interested in whether this arrangement promotes better inter-agency working between schools and the children’s social care system. 

The findings from the initial pilot study in Lambeth, Southampton and Stockport, suggest that placing social workers in schools may reduce the number of children being referred for Child Protection and Child in Need enquiries. The research suggests that, by being embedded in schools, social workers are able to build relationships with children, young people and families and undertake work that would otherwise not be possible.

Michael Sanders, Chief Executive of What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:

“We are delighted with the level of interest in this project. This expansion means that more students, teachers and schools can participate in this promising project, providing more robust evidence in children’s social care.”

Councillor Russell Holland, Deputy Leader of Swindon Borough Council and the Cabinet Member responsible for Education, said:

“We are delighted and excited to be granted funding to participate in this project to deploy experienced social workers within eight of the town’s secondary schools. This is good news for Swindon families and will strengthen our multi-agency partnership working as well as relationships with families.

“The placement of social workers within school settings will be an invaluable resource for schools and will allow them to build upon the skills of existing staff.  In addition, the project will enable many young people to receive additional social work support that may otherwise not have been available.

“We hope to evidence strong outcomes for our young people to facilitate a national roll out of this initiative so that all secondary schools can benefit from this pilot in the future.”

Find out more about the Social Workers in Schools pilot.