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North Yorkshire partnership helping to create accessible learning programme

September 23, 2020

Child safeguarding professionals from North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership have contributed to the development of training that will be rolled out to thousands of frontline workers across the UK.

The virtual learning, by The Marie Collins Foundation (MCF), will equip social workers, teachers, police officers, health workers and others who come into contact with children during the course of their work to know what to do if they believe the young person has suffered sexual abuse online.

North Yorkshire-based MCF has trained over 6,000 professionals across the UK in its ground-breaking CLICK: Path to Protection classroom-based programme.

Coronavirus has accelerated its plans to take the programme online as trainer-led virtual learning which equips professionals with the skills to understand the impact of online harm, how to manage cases from the moment of discovery and how to support victims and help them recover.

A pre-pilot has been undertaken by staff in North Yorkshire and independently evaluated by the University of Suffolk leading to a full pilot this autumn. A national roll-out will follow, available to local authorities, police forces and others across the UK.

MCF’s services director, Victoria Green, said: “It is more important than ever that professionals continue their development and learning in the current situation where young people are spending more time online and may be at increased risk of harm.

“Our classroom-based training is well established but we are adapting to the current situation by working hard with colleagues in North Yorkshire to move the training to a virtual platform where trainers can deliver it in person and trainees can benefit from interactive, case-based learning at home.”

The training can be delivered on Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another platform favoured by a particular organisation, and Mrs Green said North Yorkshire’s feedback was already proving invaluable.

“We have recognised that sitting and listening for long periods is harder online than if you are in a classroom so we have adapted the training to make it more activity-based and to make full use of the technology with breakout rooms for small, group exercises and discussion.

“It’s a huge change to what everyone is used to, but the important thing is that we seize this opportunity to maintain learning to ensure that professionals respond in the best way possible to the young people.”

She added that, post-COVID-19 classroom training would resume in the future and the virtual learning provided an alternative method of delivery that will be available later in the year.

North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Partnership’s (NYSCP) Partnership Manager, James Parkes said “We welcome the opportunity to assist MCF in the roll out of their CLICK: Path to protection programme. Safeguarding children from online abuse features highly in our multiagency safeguarding partnership strategy and supports the work of our Multi Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) and Contextual Safeguarding work throughout North Yorkshire. The partnership with MCF will also see a benefit for our frontline workers in the county and provides vital continue professional development around online abuse and how to prevent and support where needed children and families in the county.”

At the same time as developing the virtual learning, the MCF is launching an e-learning platform in partnership with Central Bedfordshire Council and Virtual College.

The CLICK: Path to Protection programme was created in response to research commissioned by the MCF in 2013 that found that the children’s workforce across England was ill-equipped to meet the needs of child victims of online abuse.

A survey carried out by the University of Suffolk of nearly 700 professionals working in health, education and children and young people's services confirmed that more than 95 per cent would value training.

Only a quarter of those working in health services said they felt confident in assessing online risk and, in children and young people's services, only 30 per cent said they had ever received training in assessing online risk.

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“It is comforting to see that the Marie Collins Foundation is trying to address the issues of children harmed online and enabling front line practitioners to conduct work with children that is based on relevant research. I will be a regular visitor to the website and will be advertising the charity in the workshops I facilitate.”

Social worker, MCF training attendee

Marie Collins Foundation Partners