Social workers in schools improve support for vulnerable children

Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2021

A scheme that aims to support vulnerable children who attend schools in Wandsworth through early identification and interventions to tackle problems and issues they face is set to be expanded.

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The pilot initiative has seen child social care workers placed at the heart of the school community allowing them to quickly respond to the of specific needs of the school and its pupils. They are able to spot problems early and help provide targeted support to the children and their families.

The project began In May when five social workers were recruited to support children in 11 schools. The aim was to reduce the number of referrals and re-referrals to social services by identifying the needs of families before problems escalate and became more entrenched.

Early feedback from the 11 schools has been extremely positive prompting moves for the scheme to be extended to other schools.

Joanne Loveless who leads the project said: “This is a new and refreshing way of working collaboratively with schools and partner agencies. We have already seen improvements in the speed and effectiveness of our interventions. We now have a better understanding and relationship with schools which has had a direct and positive impact on outcome for children in Wandsworth.”

Feedback from schools includes:

From a primary school in Battersea: “Our social worker joined us in mid-May and we have already seen positive impact from her work. She has already engaged with families who have previously refused early help or social care involvement and is building positive, supportive relationships with some of our hardest to reach families. The children feel positive about her because they see her in school all the time and have already started to approach her to talk about things because they know that she is a safe person to talk to.”

From a secondary school in Tooting: “Our school based social worker, has been fantastic to work with. At the moment, she works with 20-25 students from Years 7-12 who have been identified as needing additional intervention, either due to poor attendance, poor relationship with parents and other students, in danger of being permanently excluded and others who are deemed vulnerable in some capacity. She has shown a proactive approach and professionalism and she has forged positive, trusting relationships with our students in the short time she has been here. She has played a crucial role in stepping up two extremely vulnerable students to Initial child protection plans.”

Wandsworth’s education and children’s services spokesman Cllr Will Sweet added: “This is a thoughtful and innovative scheme that’s been well received by schools, who recognise the value of having specially trained and highly professional social care staff who can be directly involved with supporting vulnerable children and families in their school community. We are so pleased with the results we will now be looking to expand the scheme to support other vulnerable children and their families at schools in other parts of the borough.”