Should Social Workers Visit Children At School?

It is misguided for social workers to target children in their school. I would certainly have raised questions with my local education office had that happened when I was head of a primary school; but that was in the days when school heads had more autonomy as well as the support of the local education authority.

In recent years, the post of Chief Executive to a county council affords more power to petty dictators than that of Clerk to the Council did in bygone times. Increased power has been commensurate with highly inflated salaries for the few. Heads of departments have been retitled directors or managers in county councils across Britain, but this has been achieved at the cost of many jobs, largely among those who worked manually ensuring the smooth working of the grass-root services that were at the heart of all local communities.

Services and jobs have been cut to pay the high salaries needed to accommodate the newly appointed upwardly mobile graduates recruited; these are given the misnomer – efficiency measures, but have resulted in a catalogue of inefficiencies and breakdowns in the social cohesion of our society as communities have lost modes of employment and families have suffered separation in the scramble to find work and accommodation wherever possible.

The greatest casualties throughout these changes have been children, young people and the elderly who have been marginalised at either end of the employment/ housing spectrum. Children and young people because they are not considered old enough to speak and act for themselves, and the elderly who, because they are no longer part of the work-force are too often regarded as obsolete by society unless they have the means to maintain their independence.

The gradual disintegration of communities has been a relentless process throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries that started with the Industrial Revolution, but the abuse of children is much older and more sinister. Much idealism has been advocated and aimed at by well-meaning philanthropists; unfortunately this has too often resulted in the abuse that is now hitting the headlines.

The tragedy of broken homes, heartbroken parents and disengaged children have become so commonplace they are no longer noteworthy, unless they apply to celebrities. Too often, it’s left to therapists and teachers to pick up the pieces and patch over the cracks; all too often, social workers bulldoze over or pull apart those fragile repair jobs.

Researching Reform

A council has been criticised by Ofsted for allowing its social workers to routinely visit children during school hours.

An article in Community Care explains that Ofsted says the practice could harm children’s educational outcomes –  in the area under inspection, boys and girls were missing lessons to meet with social workers.

Those of us assisting parents across the country know that this practice isn’t just limited to Torbay (the council pulled up by Ofsted, in the article).

We also know that there’s much more at stake than children missing class.

Social workers visiting children at school is a common occurrence everywhere which local authorities allow on the basis that children may feel more able to open up about their concerns, away from their parents and in a ‘safe’ place.

In reality, this policy – and we are not even sure if this is a ‘real’ policy and what legislation or guidelines permit it, if…

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