Do You Know How to Make a Perfect Referral?

The Advanced Safeguarding course I deliver is one of the most popular and well attended sessions I run. We discuss a range of pertinent issues that I have put together from experience as being relevant to the needs of most settings. One issue that invariably comes up in most of my safeguarding training is how to put together a quality referral for children who are in need or who require protection.

When making referrals there are some clear checklists to follow:


  • Explain what worries you most and why
  • Focus on the impact on child/children
  • Answer all the questions as fully as possible
  • Provide all the information that you have access to
  • Provide details of everyone who lives with the child (and anyone significant that lives elsewhere)
  • Talk to the child – what are they worried about? What do they want to happen?
  • Talk to the parents – include their views
  • Get parental consent/notify (unless to do so would place child at further risk)
  • Remember to include strengths (signs of safety)


  • Making a referral before you have offered support that you have access to (directly or via direct referral to another service)
  • Asking the referral agency whether or not you should refer
  • Complex language, jargon or language/abbreviations that are only used internally
  • Assumptions – the referral agency don’t always know the family, or have access to info to fill in gaps
  • Leaving gaps on the referral form
  • Vague comments or language – e.g. ‘self-harm’
  • Leaving the child out

It’s always useful to use the language of the local Threshold document as a guideline when you are describing what you think the child is experiencing in regard to the level of service need. Keep in mind that referral agencies have to make very quick decisions about what action is appropriate for each referral and that making the right decision relies on receiving all the relevant information you are giving. Always keep your focus on the impact of the issue on the child and family.

What to do if you feel that your referral is not receiving the right response from your local Referral agency? It’s a very thorny and important question and one we discuss at length on my Advanced Safeguarding training.

Do you have newly appointed staff safeguarding staff for September? Needing Advanced Safeguarding Training for Designated Safeguarding Leads and their deputies and other key safeguarding staff and volunteers? The statutory guidance ‘Keeping children safe in education’ (2016) says that Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) ‘should undergo training to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to carry out the role. This training should be updated at least every two years.’ Furthermore in recent years it was clarified in the guidance that ‘Any deputies should be trained to the same standard as the designated safeguarding lead’.

The Mandy Parry Training Advanced Safeguarding course that is delivered in partnership with Delegated Services is designed to enhance the multi-agency training offered by Local Safeguarding Children Boards and covers most of the key information and skills that safeguarding leaders should have, including:

  • Making referrals
  • Updating key legislation and guidance
  • Local safeguarding procedures
  • Working in partnership with safeguarding agencies
  • Offering advice, training, supervision and support to your setting

The course is aimed at all levels, from newly appointed DSLs, to DSLs who are very experienced and wish to refresh their knowledge. There will be plenty of opportunities for personal reflection and group discussion, and there are several practical exercises to develop skills. It’s become good practice for DSLs to attend with their Deputies if possible in order to really focus together on the implications of the training for your setting, and to ensure they really are both trained to the same level.