Multi-professional working requires people from different professions and agencies to work together towards meeting the needs of the child.
The DfE uses the term ‘Multi-Agency working' or ‘Integrated Working' which is taken to mean different services, agencies, teams of professionals and other staff working together to provide services that meet the needs of children, young people, and their parents or carers
Other terms are also used that would seem to imply similar meaning, including inter-professional, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, interagency. Barrett et al (2005) suggest the prefix ‘multi' tends to imply the involvement of personnel from different professions, disciplines or agencies, whilst the prefix ‘inter' tends to imply collaboration, particularly in areas such as decision making
Within the Every Child Matters agenda, there is a specific requirement for different professions to share expertise and information with each other. Commonly these professions may include;
- 1. Education support services provided by the local authority - for example, educational psychologists, specialist teachers, specialist teaching assistants.
- 2. Health professionals - for example, school doctors, paediatricians, pyschiatrists, clinical psychologists, nurses, health visitors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists.
- 3. Social care professionals - , including social workers, residential social workers, family support workers, educational welfare officers
- 4. Professionals from the voluntary sector - for example, Barnardos, Scope, RNIB, National Autistic Society.
An example of multi-professional working would be when different professions work towards meeting the needs of a child at Early Action Plus, School Action Plus or who has a Statement of Special Education Need within the Code of Practice.
Relevance for teachers
Teachers should understand what Multi Agency working implies for the service to schools and children They have a duty to engage with other professionals for the benefit of their pupils.
According to the DfE:.
As multi-agency working becomes more widely practised, it is increasingly referred to as integrated working, defined as where everyone supporting children, young people and families works together effectively, putting children, young people and their families at the centre of decision making in order to meet their needs and improve their lives. This is supported by a number of tools and processes that make integrated working more effective in meeting those needs. These include early intervention, information sharing, common assessment processes and supporting information and communication technology (ICT) tools.
There are a number of different models of multi-agency working. They include multi-agency panels, multi-agency teams, integrated services (such as extended services) and the team around the child approach.
Multi Agency professionals are advised:
To work successfully with children and young people it is important to be clear about your role and to be aware of, and respectful of, the roles of other workers and agencies. You should actively seek and respect other people's knowledge and input to deliver the best outcomes for children and young people. These behaviours should apply across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Communication and teamwork
- Communicate effectively with other practitioners and professionals by listening to them and ensuring that you are being listened to.
- Provide timely, appropriate, succinct information to enable practitioners to deliver support to children, young people, parents or carers.
- Record, summarise, and share information where appropriate, using information and communication technology skills where necessary.
- Work in a team context, forging and sustaining relationships across agencies and respecting the contribution of others that work with children, young people and families.
- Develop skills and knowledge with training from experts, to work with specialist services; enabling continuity for families, children or young people while enhancing your own skills and knowledge.
- Share experiences through formal and informal exchanges.
- Be proactive, initiate necessary action and be able to put forward your judgements.
- Be persistent with families judged to need support even when they are reluctant to engage with offers of help.
- Have the confidence to challenge situations by looking beyond your immediate role and asking considered questions. Be assertive about what is required to avoid or remedy poor outcomes for the child or young person.
- Present facts and judgements objectively.
- Judge when you should provide support to a child or young person yourself and when you should refer the situation to another practitioner or professional using common assessment processes where appropriate.
Your role and remit
- Know your main job and responsibilities within your working environment.
- Understand the value and expertise you bring to a team and that which is brought by your colleagues.
- Understand that different factors may combine to cause particular risks for children and young people, and that it may be appropriate to seek support from colleagues in other agencies early, before problems have developed.
Know how to make queries
- Know your role within different group situations and how you contribute to the overall group process.
- Have a general knowledge and understanding of the range of organisations and individuals working with children, young people, their families and carers. Be aware of the roles and responsibilities of other professionals.
Procedures and working methods
- Know what to do in given cases - for example, referrals - involving appropriate services or raising concerns when a child or young person is at risk of harm or of not achieving their potential.
- Know about procedures for intervening at an early stage, or where the situation is not clear.
- Know what the triggers are for reporting incidents or unexpected behaviour.
- Know how to work within your own and other organisational values, beliefs and cultures.
- Understand that others may not have the same understanding of professional terms and may interpret abbreviations and acronyms differently.
- Know what to do when there are insufficient responses from other organisations or agencies, while maintaining a focus on what is in the best interests of the child or young person.
- Understand the procedures, objectives, roles and relationships of partner services, in order to work effectively alongside them.
- Know about tools, processes and procedures for multi-agency and integrated working, including those for assessment, consent, and information sharing.
Taken from DfES (2007) - Every Child Matters - multi-agency and integrated working guidance
Some schools in the most deprived areas may benefit from BESTs - multi-agency teams that work closely with defined groups of schools to provide whole school, group and individual support to address the needs of children and young people with emotional and behavioural problems.
Schools with BESTs include those with high proportions of pupils with, or at risk of developing, behavioural problems as demonstrated in levels of exclusions and attendance.
Anning, A., Cottrell, D., Frost, N. Green, J. Robinson, M. (2006) Developing Multiprofessional Teamwork for Integrated Children's Services. Open University Press Maidenhead.
Barrett, G., Sellman, D., Thomas, J. (2005) Interprofessional Working in Health and Social Care. Palgrave: London.
DfES (2001) Special Educational Needs Code of Practice. DfES Publications: Nottingham.
DfES (2004) Every Child Matters: Change for Children. DfES Publications: Nottingham.
Todd, L. (2004) Partnerships in Inclusive Education. A Critical Approach to Collaborative Working. Routledge Falmer: London.
Wyse, D., Hawtin, A. (2000) Children. A Multiprofessional Perspective. Hodder Education.