Understanding Advocacy For Children

In this assignment I will be discussing safeguarding, my chosen focus will be around the theme of child protection. My aim is to critically analyse this and how we as practitioners should be able to safeguard children and young people, not just in the setting but all around us. When looking into my theme of child protection I will be exploring the rights of the child and young people, for example looking at the Children’s Act (1999). I have decided to look at serious case reviews (SCRs) which link into my vignettes about safeguarding for Daniel Pelka (Coventry Local Safeguarding Children Board, 2013).

I will be looking at what went wrong and how we can learn from the mistakes made to help protect the children in the future. I will be looking at ethical dilemmas that are presented in these serious case reviews and evaluating policies and procedures for safeguarding in my own setting. I will remain ethical throughout my essay following the guidelines set by the British Educational Research Association (BERA,2018), and the European Early Childhood Education Association (EECEA,2013).

The bio- ecological framework

Bronfenbrenner (1979) theory believed that in order for children to grow and develop they need to be among people, and the environment to meet their basic needs for learning and developing. He believed that development was shaped by conditions and events that occurred during the historical period throughout a person’s life.

(Bronfenbrenner, 1995:641). In relation to this theory, he believed that change and consistency (1994:1647) was drawn within facts that plays significant roles in a child’s life.

I will be using Bronfenbrenner’s theory the bio-ecological framework to help me understand more about Daniel Pelka when looking at the influences around his life.

I will be discussing Daniel in relation to this theory. The ecological system has five layers; The Microsystem, Mesosystem, Exosytem, Macrosystem, and the Chronosystem.

When looking at the micro system, this is the layer which is the closet to Daniel and who had direct contact with him. These were his mother, her partner, and his siblings who he lived with. His mother and her partner failed to give Daniel his basic needs and he became malnourished. His mother made excuses to the school he attended as to why he was always hungry. The school believed the excuses that were made, even though they contacted the G.P regarding their concerns on what Daniels mother has told them about him having an eating problem, the school failed to communicate efficiently to check if his mother had got any help regarding this.

The next layer is the meso system, the layer that is structured by being connected to the micro system which is part of the connection. This part of the system that links into Daniels home life to schooling, between the family and the community. The school Daniel attended as it seemed was the only time Daniel got to eat. There was a disguised compliance between his mother and the school as the teachers accepted what they were being told. The teachers said Daniel seemed happy, however, I believe that this would be because school would have been his safe place as he knew he wouldn’t get punished and he would get to eat.

Daniel was Polish with very little English. He came to England, and he moved to Coventry with his parents and elder sibling. The relationship broke down with his mother and father, and his mother had several different partners. Daniel was starved at home. When he did come to school, he stole food from other children’s lunchboxes and took food from out of the bin. It seemed that this was the only time Daniel was fed. According to the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) information sharing and communication between the professionals, including teachers, health care, police and social workers made it more difficult to really know the full extent of what Daniel was subjected to until after his death.

“This SCR has identified concerns relating to information sharing and communications between professionals working across a range of agencies – teachers, social workers, health professionals, police. One consequence of not sharing information was that nobody had a complete picture of Daniel’s life, but nobody knew the extent of the physical abuse Daniel had suffered until after his death

The Exosytem is the layer that follows on from the Mesosystem which is referred to as an indirect environment that are the linkages between Daniels school and the outside agencies such as the general practitioner (G.P), the hospital and social services that were all involved in Daniels welfare. ( slot Victoria In here ) Relate this theory to my theme – gp . hospital, health visitor – police?? Mis information in both

The Macrosystem is the layer that involved social and cultural values in Daniels life. Therefore, these were the neighbours that lived by Daniel and the rest of the community that has influences on him as a community. The Chronosystem is the final layer of the ecological systems that relates to changes. It suggests that through influence changes can happen. In Daniels case, change did happen within his family life, although, this was not for the better, but for the malicious harm he endured at the hands of his mother.

From birth through to the age of eighteen years old, children go through development checks to see if they are reaching their milestones, from crawling, walking to talking right through to adolescents. Gesell (1925) theory believes that it is the foundations that link patterns to children’s development and that all children will go through similar sequences at their own rate. It is easy to make assumptions in how well children should develop, and many of us automatically assume that all children will meet their milestones, not knowing what kind of background or culture they have as this may impede their growth progression. To determine if a child is meeting their expectations, it is essential that practitioners plan and use this to help with progress to help build their developmental skills.

“Early childhood care and development (ECCD) programs are effective early interventions for minimising risks and improving children’s developmental and learning outcomes with a long-lasting impact”. (Engle et al, 2011).

Daniel was four years old, yet his developmental stage was that of a 2-and-a-half-year-old. It seemed that his basic needs were not met because he was not fed at home and the only time he ate was when he was at school. When he was caught taking food from the bin, this should have rung alarm bells with the teachers, instead they got his mother’s version, which she said he was secret eater. In my opinion, the school should have spoken to Daniel himself to find out why he was so hungry, including the fact that he was underweight for his age. There are reasons to why children do not develop and meet their development needs, such as not having their basic needs met (Maslow,1943).

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS,2012) requires practitioners to contribute in doing their best to help children have the best possible start in life. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) state that: all children have the rights to develop, regardless of their ability, home language, family background, disabilities, race or gender. Different cultures play a major part between adults and children. Therefore, this has an influence on how a child behaves socially, and those exposed to cultural differences are more likely to comply to their parents even if they are disinclined to do so. These cultural differences may be the reason why Daniel was withdrawn when he was in school, and that he was too scared to speak up. Due to the increase in global cultural differences it is more so important for teachers today to understand a child’s cultural background and decide how they can support them in their learning.

All children are unique and cultural differences have an influence on their developmental milestones. It does not matter what background they come from as long as they have the love and support around them.

Cooke and Standen explored the issues surrounding child protection of children with disabilities from maltreatment. It is said that disabilities are easily victims of assumptions in society, and that these assumptions are too easily made in the needs for services offered and are reflected the same in child protection.

As professionals it is our responsibility to protect the children in our care, therefore, educational reports need to updated regular and documented for future reference and any concerning reports to be dealt with accordingly without delay. Daniels teachers failed to keep up with the reports, therefore it was made easier for him to fall through the system. Daniel has a language barrier as his English was his second language. They got all their information from his mother. Daniel never had a voice to express how he was feeling or how his life was at home. S If the school had prioritised and got a polish interpreter in to speak to Daniel, then he may well still be alive and achieving to his best potential today.

.As part of our role as a practitioner is to advocate all children in our setting. Children look upon us for someone to listen to them and act on their behalf. Through research ‘young people have a clear view about what constitutes advocacy’ (Oliver and Dalrymple 2008). The Children’s Act (1948) put in place more responsibility on local authorities in making decisions to assist in the ‘best interests of the child’. Later developing on through the Children and Young Persons Act (1969), and furthermore into the updated Children’s Act (1989) reinforcing that all decision making is at the ‘best interests and welfare of the child’.

Article 3 of the UNCRC states that: In all actions concerning the child, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be the primarily consideration. This however can be argued that decision making and carrying out checks are at the best interest of the child and what their responsibilities are. In question the principle is that the young person makes an autonomous decision or does the child need a representative who can discover and advocate what is best for them (Spinak, 2007).

Relating Daniel to advocacy and his rights as child was not an option for him as he had no voice, therefore he was not given the chance to voice his opinion. A polish teacher tried to speak to Daniel about taking food, but he refused to communicate with her. Failing this they asked his sister Anna who was in the same school, but it was apparent she was told to say nothing by their mother and stepfather. The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010) was the document that was in force at the time of Daniels death. This clearly states that “Family members or friends should not be used as interpreters, since the majority of domestic and child abuse is perpetrated by family members or adults known to the child”. Therefore, given this to be part of a safeguarding document, the school should never have tried to question Anna about Daniel and any concerns should have been acted upon promptly and accordingly in line with policy guidelines.

Looking at the SCRs ( Laming, 2003:105), Daniel and Victoria bought attention to detail that the evidence that was seen was that it was hard to believe that a parent may be harming or starving their child, therefore believing the parents explanations as to why their child had bruising or why they were constantly hungry, both Daniel and Victoria were seen but not heard.

My role as a practitioner is to follow all policies and procedures and report any signs of abuse or neglect as soon as possible to the safeguarding officer in charge. As a team today we look out for signs and we monitor closely any changes in the child’s behaviour or if they have any signs of abuse, however, it is not easy when we have children with cultural differences when they have a language barrier. We do not get sufficient training on different languages; therefore, it can be much harder to interact with the child in a safeguarding way.


Blyth, M, Solomon, E. (2012) Effective safeguarding for children and young people: what next after Munro? The Policy Press: Great Britain.
Boylan, J, Dalrymple, J. (2009) Understanding Advocacy for Children and Young People. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
British Educational Research Association (BERA). (2018), British Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research. 4th edition. London.
Brown,Z, Ward, S. (2018) Contemporary Issues in Childhood: A Bio-ecological approach.p10. Routledge: Oxon.
Owen, A. (2017) Childhood Today.p37: Sage Publications Limited. London.
Gesell Program in Early Childhood (2020) Gesell at Yale. Program in Early Childhood. Available online: https://gesellinstitute.org/pages/gesell-theory [ Accessed 30th March 2020].
Rogers, M. (2013) Csn Policy Briefing Daniel Pelka Serious Case Review, Coventy LSCB. London. Need to eyfs Childrens act 1999

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