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What happens when Contextual safeguarding is put into practice?

What have we learnt from three years of testing Contextual Safeguarding in practice? How can we create ethical approaches to developing Contextual Safeguarding systems. Running from 2022- 2024, The Next Chapter (TNC) project included four research projects focused on building systems that address the legal, contextual and structural shortfalls of our current response to extra-familial harm.

On this page you will find an update on the Contextual Safeguarding framework. The briefing includes an update on each domain of the CS framework and its underpinning values, as well as launching a new CS value. We also include a two-page overview of policy recommendations, the domains and values.

TNC included four different research projects. You can find out more about each individual project and access all the resources for each project at the bottom of this page. 

The Next Chapter: An update on the Contextual Safeguarding framework

This document outlines the latest updates to the Contextual Safeguarding (CS) framework following our research project: The Next Chapter (TNC). The document includes an update on each domain of the CS framework and its underpinning values, as well as launching a new CS value.

The four projects included:

Led by Professor Carlene Firmin, Planning for Safety learnt from three sites testing a new Risk Outside of the Home child protection pathway (originally piloted in Wiltshire during the Scale-Up project). The results of this work are being used to inform revisions to statutory guidance in England and Wales in respect of extra-familial harm.

Building Safety explored how structural inequalities shape young people’s experiences of extra-familial harm and protection. We collaborated with young people, families, and communities to identify and address the role statutory services have in building safety or creating risk associated to extra-familial harm. The project co-designed with communities an element of the Contextual Safeguarding system to target inequalities – and disseminated results to other areas wishing to use Contextual Safeguarding approaches in this way. 

This project is the first study of its kind looking at the education experiences of children impacted by extra-familial harm. The project ran a national survey with 17 local authorities and case studies of emerging positive practice to understand the education experiences of young people. It also presents data on panels used to risk manage cases and looks at 'who' social workers think are impacted by this form of harm. 

In a series of creative workshops, over 60 practitioners explored what it's like to deeply care about young people and to want to work differently, within a system that is full of barriers and contradictions. The findings tease out what we need to consider – whether we are ‘front-line’ workers, managers, policy makers or researchers – to sustain Contextual Safeguarding practice. We have also created illustrative case studies and a resource for developing reflective peer-support and emotional containment.

We are grateful to our funders: Paul Hamlyn Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Bernard Lewis Foundation and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.