The impact of more flexible assessment practices in response to the Munro Review of Child Protection: Emerging findings from the trials
Between March and September 2011 the Secretary of State for Education issued formal directions to eight local authorities (Westminster, Knowsley, Cumbria, Hackney, Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth and Islington) to test more flexible assessment practices. Dispensations granted to each local authority by the Department for Education (DfE) required the setting aside of the following requirements set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2010)1:
- that there is a two stage process of assessment i.e. an initial assessment followed where appropriate by a core assessment (eight local authorities);
- the time scales for completing initial and core assessments (ten and 35 working days respectively) (six local authorities);
- removal of the 15 working day timing from date of last strategy discussion to the initial child protection conference (two local authorities);
- the ten working day timescale between an initial child protection conference and first core group meeting (two local authorities).
The Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre (CWRC) was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to undertake a piece of rapid response work between April and July 2012 to independently evaluate the impact that the flexibilities granted to the trial authorities have had on practice and service responses to safeguard children from harm.