Child protection learning and development 2024: national framework

Framework to support multi-agency learning and development relevant to child protection in Scotland. This highlights key learning for all workforces according to the level of responsibility they have for child protection.

This document is part of a collection

Section 3: Workforce groups and key learning

3.1 This section provides more detailed explanation of child protection awareness, knowledge and understanding expected of each of the multi-agency workforces. This should determine the level of learning and development required for each.

3.2 The National Framework for Child Protection Learning and Development in Scotland 2012 (NFCPLD 2012) proposed a move away from numeric levels of child protection awareness learning and development to a system of named groups, broadly representing the various levels within workforces. These three named workforce groups became the General Contact Workforce, Specific Contact Workforce and Intensive Contact Workforce.

3.3 The purpose of making distinction between workforce groups is that learning can be more accurately targeted towards who needs to know whatabout child protection.This should be seen in relation to the responsibilities attached to the individual's particular role and day-to-day job. It includes both paid staff and volunteers.

3.4 This revised Framework builds on the system of workforce groups introduced in Section 3 of the NFCPLD 2012. Experience and consultation with current learning and development practitioners suggests that, while named workforce groups help with the design and targeting of resources, the existing 'General Workforce' group is overly broad and that a fourth group is needed. Going forward, for the purposes of child protection learning and development, there will be four workforce groups, dropping the word 'Contact' from each. These are outlined in more detail below, with key learning identified for each.

Wider Workforce

General Workforce

Specific Workforce

Intensive Workforce

3.5 For the purpose of clarity, please note that we are approaching the key learning needed, according to the degree of responsibility for child protection knowledge and understanding expected of each workforce group.

3.6 It is also important to note that there is likely to be movement between groups. For example, an individual worker whose role may change, or who acquires additional or supervisory responsibilities, or moves to a different post completely. It may also be that someone might be in the Wider Workforce in one post but becomes part of the Specific Workforce in another role e.g. through a separate post or voluntary role.

3.7 Every employer or Child Protection Committee (CPC) has the flexibility to determine how their own employees fit within each workforce group, as well as whatever level of learning they expect for each. Additionally, there will be specialist child protection knowledge required of some single agencies who have specific responsibilities in child protection that are not within the scope of this document.

3.8 As a baseline, where workers cannot see which workforce group they fit into, they will at least be part of the Wider or GeneralWorkforces. To be certain, they should take advice from their line manager or seek advice from their local learning and development team.

3.9 There will also be scope within this for all supervisors and managers, to take advice from their local learning and development team about what level of learning is best recommended for particular teams or services, particularly where an individual worker has a new post or dual/split role. Additionally, all learning and development practitioners will inevitably design their learning resources as they interpret and understand the Framework workforce groups.

3.10 By its nature, this categorisation of workforces may seem hierarchical, but this is more a reflection of expectations of learning, knowledge and understanding, appropriate to workforce responsibility for child protection, within any given job or role. A baseline message is that all workers who have any contact with children and their families should have the core knowledge, understanding and skills required by the Wider Workforce, as a minimum standard. With few exceptions, it is anticipated that staff in each workforce group will only need to complete the level of child protection awareness learning required of that group.

3.11 Workforce examples: this Framework provides only the broadest examples of what roles might be in each workforce (based on recognised tasks and responsibility for child protection) since no list would ever be sufficiently exhaustive. Local CPCs/employers are invited to interpret the four workforces as below, or to adapt to fit local need. They are free to determine whatever level of child protection awareness learning they judge relevant to any group within their workforces and locality. All single agencies have a responsibility to ensure their workforces are trained to a competent standard, relevant to their role/remit and responsibility for child (and/or adult) protection.

Key message (all workforces): all individuals should be supported and protected wherever possible from harm, irrespective of age, culture, religion, race, ability/disability, neurodiversity, gender or sexual orientation.

Core competencies: key learning

Knowledge, understanding and skills

Wider Workforce:

Everybody, regardless of role and remit, where they do not fit into any other professional groups or workforces below, require at least a minimum, baseline awareness of core messages about child welfare, safety and protection.

Key learning is to:

  • Recognise (harm or risk of harm when they see it)
  • Respond (by sharing concerns with others whose job it is to follow up on what has been reported)
  • Record (keep records according to agency requirements)
  • Report (sharing information and concerns with child protection services (social work or police)

All staff who have contact with children and their families are expected to have at least this minimum level of child protection awareness.

Knowledge and understanding:

  • children have the right to be safe and protected from harm (Article 19, UNCRC)
  • harm happens and it matters
  • understand what we mean by harm (including harm that happens within local communities and beyond)
  • understand what child protection is
  • have a basic awareness of types of harm, signs of concern, what to be concerned about
  • understand what to do, who to tell, where, when and why to share concerns (have access to local social work offices or numbers)

key message: it's everyone's job…


  • I can recognise and respond to concerns about harm or risk of harm to a child, young person or adult
  • I can follow agency procedures
  • I can seek advice and record observations, incidents or disclosure of information (supervisors)
  • I can share information timeously, accurately and with clarity

General Workforce:

As part of their job/role/remit, people in this workforce group are likely to:

  • Require a protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) check
  • Recognise potential signs of harm and abuse
  • Raise a protection concern through the appropriate route
  • Contribute relevant and appropriately recorded information to assessments/reports

Key learning is the same as the Wider Workforce, with additional expectations of:

  • Support (offering comfort, reassurance, listening, seeking additional help from relevant family or services)

Knowledge and understanding as per Wider Workforce, plus:

  • broad understanding of local child and adult protection systems
  • awareness of indicators of harm or neglectful care and supervision of children and young people
  • awareness of signs of parental conflict, family conflict or stressors (e.g. domestic abuse, poverty, substance abuse)
  • awareness of multiplicity of different types of harm and impact on child's development
  • importance of close listening and responding to a child's disclosure
  • importance of record-keeping and information-sharing, confidentiality and consent (data protection requirements)


  • I can listen to, notice and communicate with children
  • I can respond in a child-centred manner
  • I can record and communicate concerns, actions agreed and taken
  • I can seek and follow guidance and agency procedures
  • I can liaise with relevant agencies

Specific Workforce:

All staff who, as part of their role, work directly with children or their family. People in this workforce group are likely to require a PVG and to:

  • Routinely work closely with children and their family, including supporting learning, health, practical or skill development in children, parents or supporting family time between children/parents
  • Keep routine records, write reports and/or assessments for multi-agency child protection meetings, participate in child protection support plans
  • Contribute to single agency recording and chronologies
  • Contribute to generic or specific risk assessments
  • Contribute to identifying and implementing appropriate support/ intervention plans
  • Attend and contribute to formal protection or risk management meetings.

Key learning is the same as the Wider and General Workforces, with additional expectations of:

Advocate (helping a child or family to express their views, or expressing their views on their behalf)

Knowledge and understanding as per Wider and General Workforces, plus:

  • have a competent understanding of child development
  • have a deeper understanding of specific types of harm, abuse and neglect, how they might impact and create or exacerbate risk for a child/family
  • be mindful of the intersection between different types of harm (including domestic abuse, neglect, forced marriage); how they may co-exist in a child's life, as well as the potential impact on their immediate and ongoing development
  • be aware of other types of oppressive actions that might undermine a child/family's safety and welfare
  • be aware of a parent's own emotional or mental health or other stress/distress and impact on parenting capacity
  • have a working knowledge of how environmental, family and individual factors may contribute to increased risk of harm
  • have an awareness of risk to children and young people, including those out- with family environments i.e. safeguarding risk in communities and beyond
  • understand how to respond to a child's disclosure or to other concerning information about a child's welfare
  • have a working knowledge of the immediate or emergency actions that can be taken to protect children and young people
  • have full knowledge of GIRFEC and its application to multi-agency practice; routinely work within GIRFEC principles
  • understand how to appropriately seek the view of a child/young person
  • ensure knowledge and understanding relevant to practice is current and up-to-date
  • have a working knowledge of the different roles that all practitioners have in child protection processes
  • have awareness of relevant legislation, policies, procedures and guidelines relating to the protection of children
  • have an up-to-date working knowledge of local multi-agency guidance and know how to work collaboratively with partner agencies
  • understand the complex ethical issues and conflicts regarding confidentiality and information-sharing.


  • I can engage, communicate and build relationships with children and their family
  • I can support and advocate for a child/family
  • I can carry out direct work with a child
  • I can write reports, keep single-agency records, including chronologies
  • I can contribute to assessments and work with a support plan for a child/family, including a child protection plan
  • I can recognise, identify and manage risk
  • I can competently represent my profession/ agency in multi-agency meetings, articulate assessment and knowledge of a child/family
  • I can apply learning and development to practice, make good use of reflective supervision
  • I can work collaboratively with colleagues/multi-agency partners

Intensive Workforce:

As part of their role, people in this workforce group will need a valid PVG and are likely to:

  • have a lead role in compiling and implementing a multi-agency Child's Plan and/or in decision-making relevant to a child's welfare
  • oversee the implementation of protection plans
  • have a specific, designated role in formal protection processes, including carrying out a child protection investigation
  • carry out specific, focused or specialist risk assessments
  • compile multi-agency or integrated chronologies
  • produce assessment/analytical reports on a child's behalf for formal statutory decision-making
  • provide leadership, specialist advice, support and reflective supervision to colleagues, including the creation of safe working practices and safer cultures that support a 'whistleblowing' policy

Key learning is the same as the Wider, General, Specific Workforces, with additional expectations of:

Assess (gather, collate relevant information)

Analyse (make sense of what collated information is conveying)

Plan (determine support required on basis of assessment)

Implement (act on plan by organising or providing the identified support)

Knowledge and understanding as per Wider, General and Specific Workforces, plus:

  • have a sound understanding and capacity to apply relevant theory to practice
  • have a sound knowledge of how to select and use appropriate assessment tools and produce, strengths-based, needs-led assessments, including the identification/assessment of risk
  • understand the importance of listening, engaging and involving children and their family in a strengths-based approach to welfare and protection, balancing strengths/protective factors with adversity/risk factors in protection planning
  • have a sound knowledge of national legislation/policy, procedures and guidelines relevant to the role of protecting children
  • recognise their role in contributing to their own and others' practice development, reviewing, auditing and scrutiny of intervention plans and outcomes for children
  • have sound knowledge of different approaches to intervention and best practice guidance
  • have a sound knowledge of the different roles that practitioners play in formal public protection processes
  • understand appropriate ways to ensure effective multi-agency collaboration
  • provide leadership, support and reflective supervision to colleagues
  • contribute to team/service/practice development and to Learning Reviews, quality assurance/audit processes, in line with relevant national standards and guidelines


  • I can analyse complex situations, identifying/determining risk of harm
  • I can confidently use appropriate risk assessment tools, identify, analyse protective and risk factors within and outwith family environment
  • I can accurately represent a child/parent's views, confidently/competently challenge differences in views/opinions, challenge inappropriate judgement, oppression and discrimination
  • I can critically analyse information collated in multi-agency chronologies including identified risk/need, appraise role /necessity of optional services and others in protection processes
  • I can develop, record, implement and review child/family support plans, lead/ drive/plan implementation, monitor and review outcomes
  • I can effectively utilise relevant statutory powers and duties
  • I can effectively coordinate multi-agency interventions, chair/manage and contribute to multi-agency meetings
  • I can deliver support and reflective supervision across a team/service/staff
  • I can identify, share and promote good practice/practice development within and between services and agencies
  • I can contribute to leading/undertaking team/service/strategic development, quality assurance/audit processes, support implementation of learning from Learning Reviews in accordance with national standards and guidelines
  • I can chair/lead multi-agency professional meetings; development/strategic or critical review meetings
  • I can maintain an awareness of national/ local developments, consider impact on local practice, effectively communicate these to the appropriate staff groups



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