A national progamme which has seen social workers embedded in local secondary schools has been extended.

The Social Workers in Schools programme aims to reduce the number of referrals to social services, reduce the number of children having to be taken into care and improve educational attainment.

The City of Wolverhampton Council was one of a number of authorities to secure funding from the Department for Education’s What Works for Children’s Social Care scheme. 

Launched in 2020, it has seen social workers based in 5 schools in Wolverhampton to support children who are subject to a Child in Need or Child Protection plan. 

Co-locating in this way is helping support schools as they respond to safeguarding issues, increasing collaboration between social workers, school staff and parents, and improving relationships between social workers and young people.

Councillor Beverley Momenabadi, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Nationally, schools make up the second largest source of referrals to social services after the police, so it makes perfect sense to embed social workers within schools where they can use their early intervention skills to work with children and families who may be at risk.

"We have been delighted to be part of the Social Workers in Schools Programme over the last couple of years and are very pleased that it has been extended until the end of the summer term.

“There is also now an option to extend the programme for a further 12 months and we are prioritising a discussion about this.”

Social worker Yomi Bogle said: "Being part of the Social Worker in Schools programme has offered us the advantage of being embedded within the school community, where children statutorily spend a large part of their weekdays.

"Holding a caseload of children on roll with a school and being based there has helped to deepen our professional relationship with children and to be available to them when they need us.

"We have been able to support safeguarding staff at school by offering advice, guidance and practical support. We have also been able to strengthen the relationships between professional partners around the family, as well as acting as advocates and mediators in the relationships between the school and parents, and acting as ‘critical friends’ to the school. Children and families have benefitted from our presence and it has been a privilege being able to work so closely with them in this way."

In extension of the programme has also enabled the extension of the independent evaluation which is being conducted by the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre at Cardiff University and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. 

Jermaine Ravalier, Director of Programmes, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said: “The funding extension 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.”