On Wednesday 12 February 2020, Knowsley social work professionals joined a national learning lab conference call with other local authorities and the co-founder of Signs of Safety: Andrew Turnell.

What is Signs of Safety?

Signs of Safety is a practice framework used across the whole of our Children’s Social Care service and within our partner agencies. It does not negate the statutory duties that we have as social work professionals.

Signs of Safety supports us in carrying out our duties in a way that brings to life the principles of the Children Act 1989; especially working “in partnership” with families and children who need us.

An important result of this is that we no longer refer to families and children as “cases”; people are people, not cases or identity numbers.

You can read more about Signs of Safety on the Knowsley Social Work Academy website:

Who is Andrew Turnell?

Andrew is a social worker and child protection consultant from Perth in Australia. As well as consulting and teaching, he still practices as a social worker but working only with families where child maltreatment has happened or is suspected, but the parents deny responsibility.

Andrew developed the Signs of Safety approach in the 1990s, where it won many Australian social service awards for innovative practice.

You can read some of Andrew’s books:

  • Turnell, A. and Edwards, S. (1999) Signs of Safety: A Solution and Safety Oriented Approach to Child Protection Casework, New York, Norton.
  • Turnell, A. and Essex, S. (2006) Working with ‘Denied’ Child Abuse: The Resolutions Approach, Open University Press.

What insights did we get from the session?

We were discussing how to use and implement the Signs of Safety model into our own work with children who are looked after by Knowsley Council – it made us think, should we be looking at Signs of Belonging?

We want to give our children the best possible experience and that includes a sense of “belonging” when they are not living with their own family.

The conversations we had were helpful and inspiring but also challenging our thoughts – which was fantastic. The project challenges us as it all comes back to remembering “what is a good outcome for a looked-after child?”

We think about what counts, in terms of both the right thing but even more so making sure we consider things not easily seen.

Do you want to join the conversation?

If you are interested in the Signs of Safety framework, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation online.

One of the huge advantages if you do work for Knowsley Children’s Social Care is that you are automatically a member of the Knowsley Social Work Academy, with access to learning labs just like this one. Find out what we offer to current social workers in Knowsley.

We use the framework across our service, which is just one of the great benefits of working for Knowsley Children’s Social Care. If you don’t work for us already, then why not take a look at our current vacancies?