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9.1 Resolving Professional Differences


The Multi Agency Reflection Discussion (MARD) was added to this chapter in August 2018.

1.1 Protecting children will always be an area where there may be differences of opinion about the best course of action. It is important that all those working with children feel able to air their views and constructively challenge the action of others.

The contexts for professional disagreements include:

  • The response to a referral and whether the criteria for eligibility to assessment have been reached;
  • The decision to convene a Child Protection Conference;
  • The decision as to whether to make a child subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • The development and implementation of the Child Protection Plan.
1.3 Where the conference is equally divided on the need for a Child Protection Plan, the Chair will make the final decision. (See Child Protection Conferences Procedure, Complaints about a Child Protection Conference provides specific procedures to be followed where there are formal complaints regarding the functioning of a Child Protection Conference.
1.4 It is important that there is the opportunity to follow up professional disagreements about the outcome of decisions at all points of the process, including where a formal complaint has not been lodged.
1.5 Professional disagreements between front line staff should be referred to first-line managers, who will liaise and attempt to resolve the differences of opinion. If this is not possible, a more senior manager should be involved without delay. These discussions, which are not part of a formal complaints process, are to ensure that there is appropriate management oversight of the decision making process; that the child is safe from harm; and that professional disagreements about one case do not adversely affect inter-agency relationships.
1.6 Where there are professional disagreements between front line staff and their immediate manager, the named professional responsible for Safeguarding (Safeguarding Champion) within their agency should be informed and asked to provide consultation and advice. It is advised that each agency should identify a Safeguarding Champion and ensure that this is promoted within their agency.
1.7 Records should be made of all discussions.
1.8 Where a resolution of differences cannot be found, and where a practitioner believes this difference of opinion affects the safety of a child, consideration must be given to initiating them (see Multi Agency Reflection Discussion (MARD)).