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Wiltshire Council has national platform for social work guidance

Wiltshire Council is leading the way in sharing good practice for writing up reports sensitively and simply for children and young people in care

Published 27 February 2023

Wiltshire Council is leading the way in sharing good practice for writing up reports sensitively and simply for children and young people in care.

In 2020, children's services changed the way they wrote up reports after feedback from children and young people - avoiding using official language and making reports more sensitive and thoughtful.

Now the expertise is published in a book called Principles of Practice.* The book chapter Ways of Writing, gives examples of writing in a variety of scenarios, discusses its impact and is a resource for students and practitioners alike.

Fiona Hayward, Wiltshire Council principal social worker for children, wrote the chapter following her 'Ways of Writing' research. Her research included collaboration with Cameron who was a university student at the time and had been in care. Alongside other children and young people he offered insights and experiences.

Fiona and Cameron worked closely together developing and presenting workshops with two other practitioners, Laura Church and Shelly Baverstock-Seaman, for all frontline social workers. The fresh approach to writing up reports was also extended to foster carers and multi-agency partners.

Cameron said: "Wiltshire has had a great impact on young people who have experience of social care, like myself. It feels more caring to read my case recordings in this way. It contains all the facts and professional advice but it makes me feel as though I am at the heart of the conversation, and that my thoughts and feelings have been really considered. And the notes really reflect the discussions I have had with my workers. Reading my case notes has been essential for understanding my past and aiding trauma recovery. I have dipped in and out of my case notes over the past decade; I can see a clear difference in the way they have been written since this way of writing has been introduced. It is a great feeling being part of this, knowing that I can make a positive impact by reflecting on how the experiences of young people are captured."

Fiona Hayward said: "The impact has been greater than we could have thought; it's incredibly powerful and important when our practitioners capture a moment in time for parents and their children. It reduces pain, loss and gaps in their stories."

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: "Words are powerful. Fiona and the team are doing important work reminding everyone our reports need to be accurate and fair but also they need to be sensitive and easy to understand. Having that first hand insight from Cameron and others ensures we keep on track and I'm delighted our learning and approach is now having a national platform.

Editor of the book Dr Tanya Moore explained: "The book showcases the vast practice knowledge and experience held nationally at Principal Social Worker level and offers a platform for the principles and values that inform contemporary practice."

Wiltshire Council is hosting an event to discuss Ways of Writing during Social Work Week (opens new window), on 23 March.

Additionally there is another event with authors discussing chapters from the book (opens new window).

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