The City of Wolverhampton Council was one of a handful of authorities to secure funding to take part in the national Social Workers in Schools pilot from the Department for Education’s What Works for Children’s Social Care scheme.
Launched in 2020, it saw social workers based in five secondary schools in Wolverhampton to support children who are subject to a Child in Need or Child Protection plan. It aimed to ensure that social workers worked with school staff to offer support to children and their families as early as possible, reducing the need for statutory intervention in children's lives and improving education outcomes and attendance.
Co-locating in this way helped support schools to respond to safeguarding issues, increased collaboration between social workers, school staff and parents, and improved relationships between social workers and young people.
Councillor Chris Burden, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Nationally, schools make up the second largest source of referrals to social services after the police, so it makes perfect sense for social workers to be able to work more closely with schools, and with children and families who may be at risk.
"We were delighted to be part of the Social Workers in Schools programme over the last three years, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Social workers have enjoyed having a base within a school, operating an open-door policy which has enabled young people and parents to come and speak to them in confidence if they have any concerns. They have been able to form better relationships with the young people, which in turn has helped break down any barriers with the parents.
"Safeguarding leads within schools now have a better understanding of social care thresholds, while wider school staff are more aware of the roles and responsibilities of our social workers.
"The national programme has now come to an end, but we hope that the strong relationships which have been established between pastoral teams and social workers will enable the schools that took part in the pilot to have a familiar point of contact for support and advice going forward.
"The lessons we have learned from the pilot will also be embedded into services provided through our Family Hubs, and within the recently announced Families First for Children pathfinder programme, which recognises that education is one of the key partners in delivering the right support, at the right time for all families, children and young people."