This analysis was carried out for the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (‘the Panel’), and builds on last year’s report on the extent to which safeguarding partners’ annual reports met the requirements set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (‘Working Together 2018’).
The analysis examined safeguarding partners’ annual reports across three key themes:
- Prioritisation, progress, and impact
- Dissemination and embedding of learning
- Meeting the requirements of Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018)
How we went about it
We conducted desktop deep-dive audits of 18 yearly reports for the year 2020-22. We developed an integrated audit tool to analyse these reports with members of the Panel, building on last year’s audit tool to include areas of interest that emerged from the recent Child Protection in England report and key themes identified by the Panel over the last year.
Priorities, progress, and impact
The most common priority by safeguarding theme for safeguarding partners was neglect (11/18). There was more variety in safeguarding partners’ practice priorities with many reporting practice themes unique to them.
Whilst all reports described their activities and interventions for children and families in their area, the majority of reports (11/18) did not include any information on the impact that this work is having on children and families.
Dissemination and embedding of learning
All 18 reports included a section on training provided for staff but we found very limited evaluation of the outcome of the training, mainly restricted to feedback from course attendees.
It was encouraging to see that nearly all reports (17/18) included information on actions taken by the partners following local learning activities and/or local or national reviews.
Meeting the requirements of Working Together to Safeguard Children
Less than half of safeguarding partners’ reports were sent to either WWCSC or the Panel despite this being a duty under Working Together 2018 (65/132) .
Each of the 18 reports was assessed to determine whether the Working Together 2018 requirements drew on evidence and data. 5 of the 18 were found to be “not evidenced”; 11 of the 18 were found to be “partly evidenced”; and 2 of the 18 were found to be “evidenced”.
- Consideration should be given to how to improve compliance with Working Together 2018 so that all safeguarding partners are fulfilling their duty to publish a yearly report
- Reports should move beyond describing approaches and activities and place a greater emphasis on the reasons and evidence behind selecting priority areas and the activities carried out
- There is a need for support for partners to develop approaches to measuring how training influences practice and the dissemination of learning
We found significant variation in the content and quality of safeguarding partners’ reports, but it is encouraging that the Panel has recently provided safeguarding partners with clear guidance to consider when drafting future yearly reports to ensure that they include the most relevant and helpful information. More clarity on the purpose and content of reports may encourage safeguarding partners to prioritise completion and publication of reports.
The recent Child Protection in England report highlights the need for tools to strengthen and support local safeguarding partners, including the role of the Panel in driving practice improvement. Our second year of report analysis reveals that there is an urgent need for a change in approach, with a sharper focus on evidence and learning, if the reporting process is going to play a part in this.