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Resolution of professional disagreement

“Professional challenge should be welcomed, for the children and families we work with”

Multi agency practitioner – 2024


Professional challenge has been described by the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel as a “perennial practice challenge”. In their assessment of local child safeguarding practice reviews they highlight a lack of challenge between professionals and an apparent reluctance to escalate concerns. The National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel highlight the importance of senior leaders encouraging professional challenge and modelling this as it is “essential to securing good outcomes for children”.

The importance of practitioners knowing about and feeling confident/supported to escalate their concerns is also reflected in learning from serious safeguarding cases locally.

Working Together to Safeguard Children notes that when practitioners have concerns or information about a child that may indicate a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, they share them with relevant practitioners and escalate them if necessary, using the referral or escalation procedure in place within their local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements.

Aims of the HIPS Protocol for the Escalation and Resolution of Professional Disagreement

Ensure the needs of the child first and foremost and family are at the centre of all your professional discussions.

Ensure that resolution is found by escalating concerns where necessary in a supportive, respectful and timely way.

Ensure professional disagreements are resolved at the earliest stage and between practitioners working with the child and family wherever possible.

To recognise that children are most effectively safeguarded, and their welfare promoted when practitioners who support them and their families work well together. This means that your actions are co-ordinated and your communication is timely, respectful, solution focussed and child centred.

To provide a process to support professional challenge and resolution for all multi agency working relating to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. While traditionally procedures such as these have been seen and generally used to raise professional challenge in relation to the decision making of children’s social care services, this procedure is truly multi agency and can be used to professionally challenge decision making and practice of any practitioner from any agency.

Ensure senior leaders and managers in organisations are aware of and acting on their responsibility to support their staff to appropriately engage in professional challenge and raise awareness of this procedure.

 When to use the procedure

  1. If you are concerned or worried about a decision or practice relating to a child you are working with, and;
  2. This might result in the child being at risk of harm, and;
  3. You have raised your concern in established ways such as in a Child in Need Meeting or Team around the Family Meeting (if the child’s timeframe allows) and your concern has not been resolved.

What to do next

  • Make sure you read and understand the HIPS Protocol for the Escalation and Resolution of Professional Disagreement
  • Use it if required.
  • The protocol is included in many of the webinars offered free to multi agency professionals check out the HSCP training offer


You can access the HSCP learning from reviews training sessions here.

You can access the IOWSCP training here.