A PILOT project, placing social workers in Southampton schools "showed promise" and the scheme will now be expanded to 80 schools across the UK.

In January 2019, a pilot project saw social workers integrated into 20 schools across Southampton, Lambeth and Stockport, and evidence showed that this led to social workers having reduced intervention into family life overall, ad allowed social workers to build stronger relationships with both teachers and the young people they worked with.

The projects each tried different models of involving social workers with the schools, and the findings revealed on Friday May 22 showed that placing social workers in schools may reduce the number of children being referred for Child Protection and Child in Need enquiries.

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: “The pilots were one of the first projects we began at What Works for Children’s Social Care and it’s incredibly exciting to see both the findings of these initial pieces of research, and that we’ll be able to take the project to scale to really evaluate its impacts, while delivering promising support to thousands more young people.”

On 21 May 2020 the Department for Education announced £6.5 million to expand the project, building on the pilots and placing social workers in schools across ten local authorities in England.

The expansion of this project is part of a wider programme of work announced by the Department for Education, totalling £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.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The stark reality is that too many children are growing up at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation. These are the most vulnerable in society, and the ones that most need our help. Education is a protective factor for these children offering a safe space to get support, develop resilience and fulfil their potential.

“That is why, as schools begin opening more widely and we look to the future, we must take all the steps we can to protect these children. By bringing social workers into schools to spot the warning signs more quickly, we can prevent them from slipping through the cracks.”

Applications to participate in this expanded project are now open, and this can be found here: https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/funding.