New expansion of project providing social worker supervision to DSLs

14 June 2021

Minister for Children and Families announces the expansion of an evaluation offering social worker supervision to schools’ Designated Safeguarding Leads.

What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) is delighted with the recent announcement of the expansion, to a further ten local authorities, of their current project providing social work supervision to Designated Safeguarding Leads.

Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) play a vital role in safeguarding children and young people, but there is often a lack of clarity in their roles and responsibilities, and a lack of support around making decisions and handling potential risk. The announcement on 9 June will allow the expansion of two projects providing DSLs in primary and secondary schools with regular supervision sessions with a qualified social worker. Approximately 2,000 schools in 40 local authorities will now be able to participate in the project. The expanded project will also feature a specific focus on child sexual abuse.

All schools and colleges in England are required to have a DSL, who takes lead responsibility for safeguarding and child protection. They have a legal responsibility to deal with safeguarding issues, provide advice and support to staff, liaise with the Local Authority, and work with a range of other agencies.

WWCSC currently has three projects underway to understand how to support DSLs. This new funding will allow the expansion of two – one providing one-to-one supervision to DSLs in primary schools, and another providing regular group supervision to DSLs in secondary schools. These projects, along with a third providing individual supervision to DSLs in secondary schools in Greater Manchester, aim to understand if supervision can help DSLs feel more confident in their roles and decrease the number of inappropriate referrals to children’s social care. The projects are based on a pilot study in Bolton in 2019-2020, which showed early signs of potential in supporting DSLs in their role. Supervision sessions are due to begin in September.

Dr Michael Sanders, Chief Executive, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“This evaluation will provide much needed evidence on how we can best support Designated Safeguarding Leads in their vital role safeguarding children and young people.”