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Warwickshire County Council (WCC) has been shortlisted as a finalist in the LGC Awards 2021 in the ‘Children’s Services’ category.

The LGC Awards is about recognising the most exceptional local government talent.

Funded by the Local Government Association (LGA), WCC took part in a project that used behaviour insight to re-design training for schools to support them with safeguarding decision-making to protect children and young people in Warwickshire from harm.

The LGA has a behaviour insights programme which is a forward-thinking approach that combines psychology, cognitive science, and social science to discover how people make choices. The programme aims to support councils to use effective behavioural insight to reduce demand for local public services, encourage an early intervention approach, where appropriate, and improve outcomes for local residents.

The aim of WCC’s project, in partnership with behavioural change specialists Social Engine, was to use this behavioural insight to provide improved training for schools to help them better understand where to go for the right support for any concerns.

This also makes the best use of council resources by reducing the volume of non-urgent calls to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) – a service which, since opening in 2016, has played a vital role in ensuring Warwickshire children are protected from harm. Many of the calls received however are not safeguarding issues and need to be directed to alternative support routes, to ensure they get the right support at the right time, from the right agency.

Warwickshire is a large geographically spread county with a cultural and socioeconomic mix including great deprivation and affluence. In addition, 68,000 new homes are forecast to be built in Warwickshire by 2025 which may increase levels of need in schools and other public services such as MASH. Therefore, WCC felt it was imperative that professionals working with children and young people understand the right places to report various concerns so that as the county grows, families in Warwickshire can continue to receive the right help at the right time.

Following the behavioural insight and redevelopment of the training, the project resulted in schools being four times less likely to report a non-urgent matter to MASH as they had a better understanding of the various support services available to them.

A Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) in a Warwickshire school who took part in the training said: “This is the best DSL training I have ever attended, I have rediscovered my motivation for the DSL role again, thank you!”

Cllr Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services added:

“During the pandemic, WCC employees have been pushed to new limits, nevertheless they have continued to demonstrate forward-thinking leadership and innovation. I am delighted that the council has been shortlisted for an LGC Award.  Our behavioural insights project is just one example of how our colleagues are making a difference to the lives of children and young people in Warwickshire by keeping them safe, protected from harm and concentrating resources on those most in need.”

John Coleman, Assistant Director for Children and Families at WCC said: “Our behavioural insights project has meant we can futureproof our services and start to reduce the time spent by MASH colleagues dealing with calls that would be more appropriately directed elsewhere. This means they can spend their time dealing with more urgent matters in order to support children and young people at risk and to keep them safe.

“We are thrilled that the project has been recognised by the LGC Awards for demonstrating outstanding practice and innovation. I would like to thank the project team and our partners for their incredible work!”

In the next stage of the LGC Awards, WCC will complete presentations and interviews to a judging panel made up of senior and influential figures within local government. The winners of the LGC Awards will be announced on 4 November 2021.

For more information on the support available for children and families in Warwickshire go to https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/childrenandfamilies

To view the full LGC Awards 2021 Shortlist visit https://awards.lgcplus.com/2021shortlist

Published: 2nd August 2021