Training conference

Child Neglect in Scotland – helping schools in early identification and intervention

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As noted by the Child Protection Improvement Programme (CPIP) report published by the Scottish Government earlier this year, ‘neglect is the primary maltreatment issue that children in Scotland currently face’. For every thousand children living in Scotland’s communities, one child has been formally identified as being at risk of neglect. For every primary school in Scotland, two children have been formally identified as being at risk of abuse or neglect.

As public services seek to strengthen performance and realise sustainable improvements in keeping children safe, it is recognised that a renewed focus on neglect is a critical step toward establishing a preventative approach. Schools will play a key role in this.

Developed in partnership with a number of leading social work professionals and featuring keynote inputs from The Scottish Government, the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) and NSPCC Scotland, this one-day training conference will focus on detecting and dealing with cases of neglect and the increasing importance of schools in their early identification and intervention. It will explore the following key themes –

  • What is neglect? And how can it present itself?
  • The increasing role of schools in identifying neglect and evaluating risk – and the knowledge, skillsets and approaches this requires
  • An update on the Neglect Improvement Programme, commissioned by The Scottish Government and led by CELCIS, and examine how we can share information and support shared learning and improvement in safeguarding children
  • Educating young people to stay safe from neglect and promoting and building resilience in vulnerable children – including the work of the NSPCC’s “Speak Out, Stay Safe Programme”
  • Assessing parental capacity to change in the context of GIRFEC and the need to develop integrated responses across children’s services tailored to meet the needs of individual family circumstances


DONALD HENDERSON, Deputy Director Care and Protection, Scottish Government​
DR MELISSA VAN DYKE, National Expert Advisor on Implementation, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS)
SALLY WASSELL, Independent Child Care Consultant
JOANNA BARRETT, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, NSPCC Scotland
KERSTIN JORNA, Senior Officer (Information), Children and Families Service, Dundee City Council
WENDY HARRINGTON, Independent Social Work Consultant
ALAN STEWART, Service Manager – Scotland, NSPCC Schools Service
There are cases where child neglect can be readily identifiable – high risk and high frequency cases, where resources can be targeted toward providing effective support to the child/young person involved and their family. Yet a large number of cases are more difficult to observe and respond to – where neglect presents itself less frequently and often involves recognising a complex variety of unmet needs. Given the resource and demand pressures on social services and the necessity to often prioritise workloads, these ‘less obvious’ cases can be at risk of ‘falling through the net’ – schools can play a critical role in ensuring they do not.

Education professionals – particularly nursery and primary school staff, but also guidance and pupil support staff in secondary schools – are often best placed to recognise signs of neglect. Daily contact with children and their parents/guardians provide opportunities for them to observe changes in the child’s behaviour and spot the signs that the child’s needs are not being met. However recognising the multiple forms that neglect can take can be extremely challenging and can involve making very difficult judgment calls about a child, a family’s circumstances and the parent’s/guardian’s capacity to meet his or her needs.

How can we develop integrated responses to neglect across children’s services with the school at the centre? And how can we empower schools to identify neglect and evaluate risk, ensuring instances of neglect don’t go unreported?


We are currently working on the programme for this event and will update this area of the webpage soon.

If you are interested in speaking or contributing to the discussions, contact Mark on 0131 344 4611 or

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Donald Henderson, Deputy Director Care and Protection, Scottish Government​
Donald Henderson is a career civil servant who has worked in various areas of policy across the last 30 years, including International trade, European affairs, Education and Public Health. His home department has been in Scotland throughout, but he has also had various secondments to UK Departments (Foreign Affairs 1984-85, Agriculture & Fisheries 1992-3 and Cabinet Office 1999-2002). In October 2015 he moved to become Head of Care and Protection in Children and Families Directorate.

Melissa Van Dyke
Dr Melissa Van Dyke, National Expert Advisor on Implementation, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS)
Melissa Van Dyke, PhD, comes to the field of implementation after working in state government in the United States in the child welfare, children’s mental health, and juvenile justice systems. With her experience as an administrative leader and Deputy Superintendent of a large youth justice secure facility, Melissa brings not only leadership in direct service provision but also a passion and commitment to effective learning and professional development. During her years in state government, Melissa coordinated and led various organizational and state-wide program implementation and system improvement initiatives.

In 2005, Melissa joined the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). During her ten years with NIRN, Melissa provided implementation science expertise while leading and coordinating community, state, and federal initiatives to support effective practices in mental health, child welfare, education, criminal justice, and early childhood. In addition, Melissa has provided leadership on numerous grants and contracts to build capacity of federal, state, and local partners to support effective implementation of evidence-based and evidence-informed programs and policies.

In August 2015, with support from the Scottish Government, Melissa joined the Centre of Excellence for Looked after Children (CELCIS) at the School of Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Strathclyde, as the National Expert Adviser on Implementation. Melissa works with key stakeholders to support capacity-building in the health, education, and social care sectors in the areas of improvement and implementation science. In addition, Melissa supports various Scottish Government efforts to transfer policy and legislation into real practice change across Scotland.

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Sally Wassell, Independent Child Care Consultant
Sally is an independent social worker with over 40 years of experience in work with children and families. She has long had a particular interest in the impact of all aspects of adversity on children of different ages including neglect. She is frequently instructed by courts in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland to assess the impact of emotional abuse or neglect on the well being of individual children, and to consider the implications for the child’s future care.

Sally has written about child development and strategies for building resilience with Professor Brigid Daniel and has just completed work with teen mothers in Fife using a resilience framework. She offers consultation to residential staff, kinship carers and foster and adoptive families, frequently focused on strategies for enhancing well being and developmental recovery.

In the interactive session Sally will explore frameworks which help in understanding the impact of neglect and framing effective interventions.

Joanna Barrett
Joanna Barrett, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, NSPCC Scotland
@NSPCC_Scotland @Joanna_Barrett
Joanna Barrett has been NSPCC Policy and Public Affairs Manager in Scotland for the last five years, and has led on the development of NSPCC Scotland’s policy activity on issues like infant mental health, preventing child maltreatment and online safety. Previous to this, she worked in policy and influencing roles for the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the National Autistic Society.

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Kerstin Jorna, Senior Officer (Information), Children and Families Service, Dundee City Council

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Wendy Harrington, Independent Social Work Consultant

Alan Stewart
Alan Stewart, Service Manager – Scotland, NSPCC Schools Service
Alan Stewart has worked in the NSPCC Schools Service for 3 years; first as an Area Coordinator and for the past 18 months as Service Manager for Scotland. The service operates across Scotland and now includes whole school deliveries to Primary 1 to 7 pupils, allowing children to recognise abuse – in all its forms – and know which trusted adults to speak out to and turn to for help in times of need. The Schools Service contributes specifically to experiences & outcomes in the Health & Wellbeing curriculum area.

Prior to working with NSPCC, Alan has worked as a supervisor in the National Safeguarder’s Panel and a Team Leader in a Youth Justice Service.

The early bird discount for this event ended on Friday 15 September 2017.

Share this learning opportunity with colleagues, by taking advantage of our group booking discount. Book two delegates and get a third place at half-price. To take advantage of this offer, just enter the discount code GROUP3 on the booking form.


Private sector rate
(Commercial organisations – Ltd, plc, LLP etc)

Public sector rate
(Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, NHS, police, universities and colleges etc.)

Third sector rate
(Charities, voluntary and community groups, tenant and patient groups, professional bodies, trade unions etc)

Schools rate
Available to all attendees from schools

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The Academy
Wheatley House
150 Ingram Street
G1 1EJ


By Rail, Glasgow Queen St & Glasgow Central Stations.
Approximately 5 minutes walk.

By Air, Glasgow Airport.
Approximately 20 minutes away.

By car,
See google map above.