PA3. Learning and Improvement Framework

For a record of all amendments and updates, see the Amendments & Archives.

Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.

See Working Together to Safeguard Children


In March 2022, this chapter was updated throughout and should be re-read.

1. Principles for Learning and Improvement

Caption: Principles for Learning and Improvement


Working Together 2018 says that "The three safeguarding partners should agree on ways to co-ordinate their safeguarding services; act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and implement local and national learning including from serious child safeguarding incidents – WT 2018 Ch 3, Para 6.


Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations, agencies, and individuals (within a local area) to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes (WT 2018 Ch 2, Para 3):

  • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and the procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training;
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role.


Local safeguarding partners are also responsible for setting out:

  • How inter-agency training will be commissioned, delivered and monitored for impact and how they will undertake any multiagency and interagency audits (WT 2018, Ch 3, Para 39).


As part of their organisational responsibilities, agencies are required to appoint a "designated practitioner (or, for health commissioning and health provider organisations/agencies, designated and named practitioners) for child safeguarding. Their role is to support other practitioners in their organisations and agencies to recognise the needs of children, including protection from possible abuse or neglect. Designated practitioner roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Practitioners should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively" (WT 2018, Ch 2 Para 3)


LSCPs should therefore ensure that they have systems in place (e.g. through Section 11 audits) to ensure that local organisations have in place suitable arrangements for:

  • Induction;
  • Introduction to safeguarding procedures;
  • Supervision of staff and the identification of training needs;
  • Ensuring that their staff satisfy the relevant competency framework(s).


LSCPs should assess the effectiveness of the help being provided to children and families within their local area. That assessment, together with information about training needs from individual organisations, learning from local audits and local practice reviews as well as that from national reviews should provide the basis for their inter-agency training programme. They are then required to publish how that programme will be commissioned, delivered and monitored for impact.


The LSCP should also set out how individual agencies will ensure that refresher training is provided for their staff and how the LSCP will monitor the impact of that training:

  • For designated safeguarding leads (see 1.4, above), this should be at least every two years (or as directed by agency specific guidance);
  • For all other staff, at least every 3 years (or as directed by agency specific guidance).


Training is not limited to formal, face to face events, but can include a wide range of learning and development activities including shared expertise, interactive e-learning, shadowing, presentations, video conferencing (both pre-recorded and live) or a mixture thereof. Where possible, it should provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on practice with their colleagues from across the partnership. All training should include clear objectives together with a means to monitor the impact of that training.


Where learning is derived from local safeguarding practice reviews or from national reviews, there should be a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the organisations that work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, so as to identify what works and what promotes good practice. The principles should be:

  • A proportionate response: According to the scale and level of complexity of the issues being examined i.e. the scale of the review is not determined by whether or not the circumstances meet statutory criteria;
  • Independence: Reviews of serious cases to be led by individuals who are independent of the case under review and of the organisations whose actions are being reviewed;
  • Involvement of practitioners and clinicians: Professionals should be fully involved in reviews and invited to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith;
  • Offer of family involvement: Families, including surviving children, should be invited to contribute to reviews and be provided with an understanding of how this will occur;
  • The child to be at the centre of the process;
  • Transparency: Achieved by publication of the final reports of Serious Case Reviews and the LSCP's response to the findings. The LSCP annual reports will explain the impact of Serious Case Reviews and other reviews on improving services to children and families and on reducing the incidence of deaths or serious harm to children. This will also inform inspections;
  • Sustainability: Improvement must be sustained through regular monitoring and follow-up so that the findings from these reviews make a real impact on improving outcomes for children.

2. Competency Framework

Caption: Competency Framework


Every professional body has their own competence and training framework against which the workforce knowledge and skills are be measured, according to their professional role and set out by their own professional organisations[1].

[1] For example:
Health service: Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Healthcare Staff
Social work: Social work post-qualifying standards: knowledge and skills statements
Schools: Teachers' standards
Early Years: Early Years Qualifications


This section sets out the level of competency for safeguarding children, required by professionals who have a varied range of levels of contact with and responsibility for children and or parents /carers. These will include those who in their work or volunteering have limited contact with children, young people and their parents/carers, and no responsibility for them to those who have the highest levels of responsibilities for them, including at strategic level.


It provides a framework for single and multi-agency training to enable professionals, volunteers, agencies, organisations and services to acquire the skills and knowledge to work effectively within existing guidance and procedures for safeguarding children. It does not set out the type of training required to achieve the different levels of competency but allows for a degree of local flexibility required to meet locally identified needs. It is the responsibility of each agency to facilitate access to or commission training that will enable their staff to demonstrate the required level of competency for their role. LSCPs should ensure that partner agencies do so through S11 audits and other local reporting arrangements.


The framework outlines the competencies required to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people who may be experiencing abuse or neglect. It offers a framework of these competencies within varied roles of staff and volunteers who work with children and young people who may be at risk and their families. The framework aids staff, supervisors and managers to use identifiable standards to measure the competencies of staff, record appropriate evidence and have a framework as to the achievable outcomes for the development of staff and volunteers.


Each professional competency within the framework refers to a combination of skills, knowledge and experience expected of individual staff. Competency involves being able to demonstrate the ability to be critically reflective and self- aware in analysing, reviewing and evaluating ones skills, knowledge and professional practice and being open to change.


Competence Still Matters identified the following groups audiences based on their degree of contact with children and/or parents/carers and their levels of responsibility. This document recognises that in the absence, for most agencies of any clear guidance in relation to training, each LSCP/ multi-agency safeguarding partnership would have developed their own training strategy.


This framework provides some guidelines to employers for identifying the relevant competencies (either by group or level including Inter-Collegiate Levels – (ICL)) (see Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)) according to staff involvement and responsibilities in relation to children, young people and their parents.


The LSCP is responsible for monitoring the arrangements for the provision of training at the appropriate level for staff employed within each agency within their local area. Whilst much of the training at Levels 1 and 2 will be delivered by individual agencies for their own staff, the inclusion of some multi-agency training will help to promote interagency working (e.g. information sharing). Conversely, whilst much of the training at Levels 3, 4 and 5 will be delivered on a multi-agency basis, there will be some training that is role specific and more appropriately delivered on a single agency basis (e.g. the role and responsibilities of local authority elected members).

Caption: Professional Competency
Level / Groups Professional Competency
Level 1 Training – Single Agency / E-Learning / Multi-Agency
Those who have occasional contact with children, young people and/or parents/carers.
  • Understanding what is child abuse and being able to recognise potential signs and indicators of abuse and neglect;
  • Recording and sharing of information regarding concerns;
  • Awareness of the organisation's basic safeguarding children procedures;
  • Awareness of who within the organisation should be contacted regarding any concern about a child's safety or welfare (including who to contact if that person is unavailable);
  • Awareness of who within the organisation should be contacted regarding any concern about a colleague's behaviour towards a child or potential risk that they may present;
  • Awareness of the expected standards of behaviour by staff towards children.
Level 2 Training – Single or Multi-Agency Training

Those in regular or in intensive but irregular contact with children, young people and/or parents/carers.

Those who work predominantly with children, young people and/or parents/ carers.
  • Recording and sharing of information regarding concerns;
  • Using the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families (: Own safeguarding roles and responsibilities;
  • Working together to identify, assess and meet the needs of children where there are safeguarding concerns. To identify child focused interventions and measurable outcomes;
  • Understanding the possible impact of parenting difficulties, such as domestic abuse, mental health, substance misuse, learning difficulties on parenting capacity;
  • Recognising the importance of family history and functioning;
  • Working with children and family members, including addressing lack of co-operation and superficial compliance within the context of role.
Level 3 Training – Multi-Agency Specialist Training
Those who have particular specialist child protection responsibilities.
  • Conducting section 47 enquiries, attending Child Protection Conferences and managing Core Groups; roles, responsibilities and collaborative practice;
  • Using professional judgements to make decisions as to whether a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm;
  • Working with complexity;
  • Taking emergency action;
  • Communicating with children in line with interviewing vulnerable witness guidance;
  • Promoting effective, professional practice;
  • Supervising child protection cases and advising others.
Level 4 Training – Multi-Agency or Single Training Agency Specific to the Role

Operational managers of services for children, young people and/or parents / carers.

Professional advisers and designated leads for child protection.

  • Supervising child protection cases. Managing performance to promote effective inter-agency practice;
  • Specialist training to undertake key management and/or supervisory roles in, for example, intake/duty teams;
  • Safer Recruitment Training.
Level 5 Training - Multi-Agency or Single Agency Training Specific to the Role

Senior managers responsible for strategic management of services for children, young people and / or parents / carers.

Members of Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships.

Board Level for Chief Executive Officers, Trust and Health Board Executive and non-executive directors/members, commissioning body Directors.

Local Authority Elected Members, Lay Members or Non-Executive Directors.
  • Section 11 expectations, roles and responsibilities;
  • Expectations on members in order to promote effective co-operation that improves effectiveness;
  • Current policy, research and practice developments;
  • Implementation of lessons from Serious Case / Learning and Improvement Reviews. Specialist training to undertake specific roles, for example Independent Chair; Business Manager;
  • Safer Recruitment Training.