The Voice of the Child…or the Deafness of Adults?

Ofsted has just published a report entitled “The voice of the child: learning lessons from serious case reviews” which looks at the themes coming out of 67 serious case reviews for a total of 93 children held between April and September 2010.  The messages that come out are very familiar by now and make one wonder why these same points come up again and again?

Children were not seen frequently enough or asked about their views and feelings.  Agencies didn’t listen to the adults who tried to speak on behalf of the child.  Parents and carers prevented professionals from seeing the child and focused too much on the needs of the parents.  Agencies failed to interpret their findings well enough to protect the child.

When one goes into the detail a few other things come out.  There is a really broad responsibility to identify children at risk and then to refer to specialists- one review asks how they can engage the general public in safeguarding- an ambitious task perhaps?  The invisibility of fathers and male partners both as a risk and as a potential safeguard is highlighted.  Shockingly, the report reminds us that if practitioners feel concerned for their own safety going to a home they should ‘consider the implications of risk to children’  How can we forget this?

For me the report underlines two things.  Firstly, the need for good training and supervision for all practitioners working with children and those working with adults who live with domestic abuse, substance misuse, mental health problems and homelessness.  There are many cases where the professionals didn’t listen enough, a few where they listened ‘too much’.  Every case has its own unique features.  We need professionals with the confidence to use their own judgement- let’s hope our CPD programme with its focus on safeguarding children living with domestic abuse helps to address this.  (

The second message is the need for Children’s Services and LSCBs to link in with MARACs and use this forum as an existing means to access additional information and support for children.  The report underlines again the need for multi agency work.  In practice, we know that many areas are struggling to get consistent engagement from Children’s Services with their MARAC.

The report from Ofsted can be found at

One Comment to “The Voice of the Child…or the Deafness of Adults?”

  1. Very interesting reading. I am so glad that we chose to start our CPD programme with Safeguarding Children – not always the most popular topic but so necessary. i plan to open the training tomorrow by talking about the implications of practitioners focussing too much on the needs of parents and overlooking the children. Especially as Munro has just published her report – it is another timely reminder of the risk of ‘professional optimismn’.

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