We recently spoke with Claire George, Head of Peterborough’s Pupil Referral Service about their use of ECINS and the benefits it offers around helping to safeguard vulnerable children in the City.
The Pupil Referral service is a school for children who have not managed to achieve their potential in a mainstream setting, this typically includes children that have been permanently excluded, have reached the point of permanent exclusion or have not managed in mainstream perhaps because they have significant emotional or mental health needs, high level anxiety or home related issues. They also run a specific programme for newly arrived year 11’s into the city, some of who are unaccompanied asylum seekers.
Claire said ”The Pupil Referral Service includes the Behaviour Support Panel and the Service Intervention Team. The concept around the Behaviour Support Panel is early and preventative intervention and we aim to work robustly with schools, children, families and other professionals to keep children in mainstream settings.
“The Primary Behaviour Panel went live in 2014 and the Secondary panel a year after. Since starting the Behaviour Panel we have seen a 50% drop in fixed term exclusions (short-term exclusions within schools) and also a significant reduction of around 60% for permanent exclusions too.
What makes the Pupil Referral Service so successful?
“The core of our success is having one coherent continuum of support. We have put effort, energy and skill into the early intervention work with the children in mainstream schools to keep them there and supported but also having the ability to move them into our PRU for a short period of time and back into mainstream if and when they are ready. Everything is focused on the needs of the child and the needs of the family, working holistically with the family and pulling in other agencies that are needed to support them.
“We work with Primary, Secondary, pre-school settings and agencies including children’s social care, health care professionals, health visitors, school nurses, specialist teams, community paediatrics, neurodevelopmental specialists, Housing Department, housing associations, police (safeguarding checks) and with specialist work there will be agencies that are new to us that we will work with too.
“ECINS is the system that we use for the service element and I think the pure beauty of ECINS is that it offers a single record which means that everything is in one single place. It’s completely secure, GDPR compliant , very simple and easy to use and it enables you to build, in realtime, a chronology of all the people that are working with a child so you can build more quickly, more effectively and more safely, a holistic child’s profile.
How the Primary Panel Works
“Any primary school can make a referral to the Primary Behaviour Panel and they do that by completing our Behaviour Referral Form which comes into our Panel Administrator and she uses the information on the form to create the child’s profile on ECINS.
“On that initial referral form the school will identify any other professionals who are already working with that child and family so our Panel Administrator can see if there’s any agency who is not already on ECINS that need to be set up as we use ECINS as the communication tool for all of our Panel work.
“Once the Panel Administrator has created the profile on ECINS the case comes to the Behaviour Panel and all of the activity is recorded on the child’s ECINS profile. The partners around the table at the Panel can use the profile to information share, so, for example, the health professional who comes to the Panel will have had advance notice of the Agenda and the child’s name and will update ECINS saying “not known” or “open to this specialist service and this is the stage they are at”. This effectively means that by the time the Panel Meeting is held there is quite a lot of information sharing that has already gone on.
“The school attend the Panel and the Panel have the opportunity to ask questions and provide advice and strategies. The meeting is minuted and there is a set of actions for the school and other professionals, all of which are shared on ECINS. All of the processes after this point are also recorded on ECINS including all information taken on our home visits. My colleague Andy Craighead and I carry out a home visit on every single referral. The information from that home visit goes onto ECINS and each home visit produces a set of actions for different people.
“We use ECINS to keep everyone safe and keep all the information in one place. We have a range of agencies using it and one of the really brilliant things about ECINS is that it cuts across all of the individual agencies’ systems and processes. It’s the only tool that I’m aware of where you can communicate with everybody and keep it all in one place.”
How the Secondary Panel Works
“The Secondary model is different from the Primary model. Andy and I go out into schools as a traded service where they buy a monthly or half-termly visit, typically a 2 hour slot, and all of the work we do in that 2 hour slot is recorded on ECINS. I will focus on the therapeutic work whilst Andy is carrying out the recording and tasking.
“We find that part of the benefit of ECINS is the realtime recording. Quite often we will do a 2 hour block in the morning and then have a half an hour travel before going straight into another school to see a range of . We record the work we have done, record the actions and task those actions while we are in the school so that by the time we leave the school after the 2 hour session, actions are not just recorded but actively in progress.
“We do all of the home visits as a team. I can focus on the therapeutic work, modifying our questions intuitively as we are going through the visit and Andy records it all and sets the actions before we’ve left the home. If we are picking up issues that we think are of a significant safeguarding nature we’ve got that information recorded and our role at that point is to pass it on to Childrens Social Care as the risk holding and risk managing agency.
Our experience is by being able to use ECINS in a realtime scenario is that is saves a massive amount of time, otherwise we would have to take handwritten notes at a family home or school and then come back to the office and type it up. We would effectively be doubling the work load without the use of ECINS.”
Evidence Gathering, Risk, Vulnerabilities and Safeguarding
“We use ECINS for evidence gathering in relation to information sharing, particularly around prevent work, sharing information from individual agencies with specific questions around vulnerability and risk because those are the decisions and judgements that partners are attempting to make together so it’s vital we have the right information to do that swiftly.
“From a safeguarding point of view ECINS supports gathering evidence from a range of sources which builds a picture, far more quickly than any other system, of risk and vulnerability and will then determine the actions that need taking, whether it’s manageable at our level or whether we need to pass it on to a risk holding agency such as Childrens Social Care.
“In school we work with children that are on Full Child Protection Plans, Child in Need Plans and we have a number of Looked After Children. Each of those have their own very specific legal framework and processes and we work as a partner to contribute to those risk management processes. Using ECINS enables us to have the full range of information and to be fair, to quite frequently challenge the decisions that are made by the risk holding agencies such as Childrens Social Care.
“We will have information the school have given us, but the reason the first thing we do is to carry out a home visit is because the school will present their version as they see it and understand it but it’s only by going into someone’s home and into their arena that you get a real sense of the lived experience of the child. We will come out of a home visit and immediately put things into motion like food parcels, benefit checks or perhaps getting the police involved because mum has just disclosed something that needs attention.
“We use ECINS to information share in realtime and some of that is extremely sensitive information but we are able to do that information sharing very securely in a single place. Having that full picture enables those professionals around the table to make sound judgements as to the risk an individual poses and then collectively make decisions about how we work to mitigate that risk. Ultimately you are talking about people who have the potential to commit an act of terrorism.
Safeguarding in relation to FGM
A school we are working with through the behaviour panel processes came to us as Lead for Safeguarding and Prevent for Education. They had made a referral to Childrens Social Care about a child they felt potentially was at risk of Female Genital Mutilation but didn’t feel the referral was being taken seriously.
We were able to work with the school to use the intelligence and information sharing that we already had through our ECINS work with them and support them to not only challenge the decision and the plan of action for that particular case but actually to escalate it.
A second challenge speeded up the process for a police officer to attend to the child’s house urgently. The child wasn’t present as they were already on the plane but the police were able to speak to the mother on the telephone and make it extremely clear to her that FGM is an offence in this country and were that child to be returned and harmed in any way that there would be serious consequences.
My belief is that as a direct result of these actions that the child was returned unharmed and is safe.
Using ECINS for Prevent – Peterborough
By Claire George, Head of Peterborough’s Pupil Referral Service and Safeguarding and Prevent Lead for Education for Peterborough
“One of the parts of my role is that I lead Safeguarding and Prevent for the whole of Education for Peterborough and we use ECINS for Prevent.
“Part of the prevent duty is that every establishment organisation must have a Prevent Action Plan to show how they are delivering the Prevent duties in their arena. As Lead for Prevent in Education I write a Local Authority Plan for the whole of Education which feeds into the Local Authority Council Plan which then feeds into the new Cambridgeshire wide plan.
“All of those Plans sit in an area of ECINS under the Strategic Prevent Delivery Board so that when that Board meets (and it meets every 2 months) all of those plans are visible, the action and progress on them are visible, each partner agency knows exactly what’s going on, they know what’s working well they know what to prioritise and what needs attention.
“From the school’s perspective we had an OFSTED inspection of Prevent within the authority and they were really positive about the practice and the way it is working. The Fire Service and the Police Service are due joint inspections in the new year and we will be contributing as a partner.
“We use £CINS at a strategic level in terms of Prevent and we also use it at an operational level to support the work of Channel Panel.
“Channel Panel is a multi-agency meeting. We come together once a month and that is about risk management and risk holding. We use ECINS to manage the case work element of it, to do all the information sharing and the risk analysis. You have got partners contributing their knowledge, information and their assessment of risk around individuals and when the panel meets they can make decisions, all of which are recorded on ECINS, about what strategies and interventions to put into place to mitigate that risk.
“That is a significant piece of work that we use ECINS for and a really strong example of risk holding and risk management. I think ECINS has been absolutely pivotal to the way we are able to work. We don’t have any other system that can communicate across agencies, that is critical to the work that we currently do and ECINS is a very valuable tool in our toolbox.”