School social workers in Somerset

A ground-breaking initiative to place social workers in schools to help keep children safe from exploitation has begun in Somerset.

Somerset County Council successfully secured £400,000 from the Department for Education (DfE) as part of the Social Workers in Schools (SWIS) programme.

Eight social workers are working in secondary schools across Somerset, with at least one selected school in each of the county’s four districts – including Sedgemoor for the Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge area.

This is a new way of working to ensure children and young people identified as at risk of exploitation receive effective support from the right people. Social workers will work collaboratively with school colleagues including Designated Safeguarding Leads to support children, young people and their families. Work will include identifying issues and strengthening our partnership response to exploitation.

Councillor Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services at Somerset County Council, says: “I’m delighted that Somerset has been selected for this innovative pilot programme.”

“Through it, children’s social care teams are working with eight identified schools to build good relationships with children and their families to understand their needs and develop effective support and plans.”

“This way of working provides an opportunity for social care teams and schools to learn more about each other’s roles, and improve the way they work together to ensure there is effective support for the children and young people who need it.”

“The social workers will support schools to gain confidence in spotting signs of exploitation and responding to safeguarding issues.”

“The programme fits very well indeed with the Council’s existing ways of working with families to improve lives, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses.”

Data collected from the eight identified schools will be compared to that of a control group to help demonstrate how this approach makes a difference, with the intention to extend the programme.

There is at least one selected school in each of the county’s four districts and the project will initially run for 18 months.

 
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