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BASW gives broad welcome to Munro Review panel

A broad welcome has been given by BASW to the announcement of a diverse membership for the Munro Review panel on the future of child protection.

The announcement came as Professor Eileen Munro, who is leading the review, called for evidence of good practice in children’s social work, how it was made possible and what obstacles had to be overcome.

The panel will include Professor Sue White, formerly part of the Social Work Task Force and now a member of the Social Work Reform Board which succeeded it.  And in another deliberate echo of the task force’s inclusion of the Sun’s agony aunt Deidre Sanders, the new panel will include the same newspaper’s “Wondermum” Avril Head, who has fostered more than 100 children.

BASW responded to the news by revealing plans to form a ‘special interest group’ to gather and share information regarding the successes and challenges of child protection systems and feed this into Professor Munro’s review.

Nushra Mansuri, Joint England Manager for BASW, said: “We are looking forward to working with the panel and Professor Munro to bring the voices and experiences of thousands of frontline social workers to their discussions.

“In putting together this group the government has followed the Taskforce model by trying to go for a cross-section of interest groups,” Ms Mansuri added. “It’s good to have the Sun’s wondermum Avril Head because we want foster carers to be recognised. Sue White will provide continuity with the work of the Taskforce and Reform Board, and she’s someone who is really respected on child protection issues.”

But she expressed surprise about the inclusion of Barnardo’s outgoing chief executive Martin Narey. Mr Narey said recently that too many children at risk were left with their families and that more should be taken into care.“He’s made so many controversial statements about taking children into care quicker which haven’t helped the debate. I never saw him as a safeguarding expert,” Ms Mansuri said.

She welcomed the appointment to the panel of Melanie Adegbite, a self-employed senior social worker currently based in Newham’s safeguarding and intervention team.

But Ms Mansuri also called for an external reference group to be established so that the panel could draw on the views of frontline social workers and managers more widely.  “We’ve got to make sure that there’s an ongoing dialogue between the panel and social workers who are out there doing the job and feel disempowered,” she added.

The Munro Review was launched by the Department for Education on June 10 to look at how best to cut the bureaucracy confronting social workers so that they can spend more face-to-face time with families.

Members of Professor Eileen Munro’s review panel include:

Professor Sue White, University of Lancaster and former member of the Social Work Task Force.

District Judge Nicholas Crichton of the Inner Family Proceedings Court.

Marion Davis, President of the Association of Director’s of Children’s Services.

Daniel Defoe, a care leaver and member of Newham’s Care Council.

Melanie Adegbite, a self employed Social Worker.

Avril Head, Foster Carer who has fostered over 130 children in 25 years.

Martin Narey, Barnardo’s outgoing Chief Executive.