Working Together to Safeguard Children

Sara Spinks 20 November 2023 3 min read
Working Together to Safeguard Children feature image

In this article, Sara Spinks looks at the key changes in the new Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Multi-Agency Working to Help, Safeguard, Protect, and Promote the Welfare of Children?


In June 2023, the draft guidance to update the DFE statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) was unveiled, setting the stage for substantial modifications to child protection and safeguarding practices in England. Anticipated to be finalised in early to mid-2024, this article looks at the key changes of the WTTSC 2023 consultation and the resulting implications for schools.

Expanding Horizons: Title Evolution and the Significance of Annual Reviews

The WTTSC 2023 consultation introduces a revamped title: 'Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Multi-Agency Working to Help, Safeguard, Protect, and Promote the Welfare of Children.' This extended title reflects the consultation's broader scope, emphasising the crucial role of multi-agency collaboration in child protection.

There is also the addition of the introduction of annual reviews, which is worth noting, as this ensures the guidance's adaptability to emerging safeguarding challenges like online bullying, knife crime, and other concerns. These reviews will facilitate the continuous evolution of the guidance, aligning it with the dynamic landscape of child protection.

Redefining Safeguarding: What is Working together to safeguard children?

The WTTSC 2023 consultation presents an updated and comprehensive definition of safeguarding, now encompassing:

  • Providing timely help and support to children as soon as problems arise;
  • Protecting children from maltreatment, both online and offline;
  • Focusing on the prevention of impairments to children’s mental and physical health;
  • Promoting the upbringing of children with their birth parents or family network, where it serves the child’s best interests;
  • Taking proactive steps to enable all children to achieve the best outcomes.

Audience and Engagement

The WTTSC 2023 consultation targets all education providers, including schools, further education institutions, and other educational settings. Schools, in particular, are poised to play a more active role in ensuring the safety and well-being of children, although the specific details of these new responsibilities are yet to be outlined. Therefore, it is imperative that schools stay abreast of the impending guidance changes.

Focus Areas: Enhancing Child Protection Across Five Key Dimensions

  • A Shared Endeavour: Promoting effective multi-agency working and principles for collaboration with parents and carers;
  • Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements: Clarifying roles within multi-agency teams and emphasising accountability;
  • Help and Support for Children and Families: Emphasising early help and addressing the needs of disabled children;
  • Decisive Multi-Agency Child Protection: Introducing national standards for practitioners;
  • Learning from Serious Incidents: Stressing the importance of learning from past mistakes, particularly those involving children in local authority care.

Overview of the Chapters

Chapter 1
Introduces the term ‘A Shared Endeavour’, which highlights a child-centred approach, emphasising practitioner-family partnership, poverty awareness, and discrimination avoidance. It highlights the importance of practitioners working in partnership with families, being poverty-aware and avoiding discrimination. Principles for working with parents are introduced, focusing on building positive, trusting, cooperative relationships.
Chapter 2
Focuses on ‘Multi-Agency Working’ and highlights increased education leader involvement in local arrangements, recognising schools as Relevant Agencies, although not statutory partners. It discusses the delegation of responsibilities in Local Safeguarding Partnerships (LSP) between strategic and operational leads. This chapter also includes an entirely new section on dispute resolution outlining several steps for resolution, including procedures that LSPs should follow for quick resolution before matters escalate to the Secretary of State.
Chapter 3
Providing Help, Support, and Protection – Section 1, Early Help, expands on early help considerations, incorporating aspects like knife crime, sexual or criminal exploitation, absenteeism from education, and online content-related issues. Section 2, Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and Section 3, Child Protection
Chapter 4
Organisational responsibilities, providing details of the responsibilities for all key partners and organisations involved in working together
Chapter 5
Learning from serious child safeguarding incidents- details the purpose of serious child safeguarding case reviews at local and national level, which is to identify improvements that can be made to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Chapter 6
Child death reviews, the statutory requirements.


The Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023 consultation is not merely a document revision; it represents a pathway to a safer future for our children. Schools and education providers are pivotal in this transformative journey. Schools would be well placed to get to know the new guidance and prepare for the impending changes such as the fact that Local Safeguarding Partners (LSP) can now request that schools conduct an audit. This revised guidance will shape the landscape of child protection and safeguarding for the future.

Sara Spinks

SSS Author & Former Headteacher