Children and Social Work Act 2017
The Children and Social Work Bill received Royal Assent on 27th April 2017 hours before the previous Parliament came to a close. The Bill has had a difficult passage and not all proposals survived the process. In particular, the controversial plan to allow local authorities to opt out of certain child protection regulations was removed long before Royal Assent.
The majority of the new Act relates to social work and will setup a new independent regulator to be called ‘Social Work England’. Other sections of the Children and Social Work Act 2017 cover:
- promotion of the educational achievement of previously Looked After Children;
- the introduction of compulsory relationships education in primary schools;
- the introduction of relationships and sex education in secondary schools, which may take into account the ‘religious background’ of pupils
The content of the relationships and sex education programme is yet to be set, but will cover safety in forming and maintaining relationships, the characteristics of healthy relationships, and how relationships may affect physical and mental health and well-being.
Maintained schools and academies will need to ensure that there is a designated staff member for previously Looked After Children, which includes those who were cared for under a special guardianship order, and young people who have been adopted.
Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) will be abolished under the regulations in the new Act, and ‘safeguarding partners’ will instead make local arrangements for safeguarding and promoting welfare of children. Safeguarding Partners are the local authority, health commissioning groups and the police; and although the local authority might also include ‘relevant agencies’, education is not specifically mentioned.
The Act creates a national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (CSPRP) to look into serious child safeguarding cases in England which raise issues that are complex or of national importance.