The Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is the process by which schools, social services and other agencies working with children and young people assess potential barriers to student achievement and wellbeing and set in place means by which these are addressed. The CAF process, although daunting at first, is the key to multi-agency sharing of information and ultimately clarifying roles and responsibilities with reference to a particular child or young person.
Whether you have received training on multi-agency working or whether the CAF process is yet to be developed within your LA, The Common Assessment Framework Handbook: A step-by-step approach for schools is a unique and practical tool that can support you in every stag
e of using the Common Assessment Framework to raise concerns about a child that you or one of your colleagues are in contact with.
This practical handbook will:
inform and guide school-based staff through the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) process
explain the principles of the CAF and the tools that your local authority should have in place to support multi-agency working
give you a ready-made training package for you to use to explain these principles to the staff in your school, so they know who to contact and what to do if they have a concern about a child or young person in school
provide advice and guidance on how best to carry out the CAF interview with parents, children and young people
illustrate, through sample CAF forms based on a wide range of case scenarios, what sort of information should be recorded and how that information can be used to identify targets and develop an action plan
describe activities that can be used to help elicit the views of children and young people so that they can contribute to the process without feeling threatened
give you advice and guidance on how to conduct a successful multi-agency meeting after a CAF has been completed.
Summary of contents
Chapter 1 – An understanding of Every Child Matters
The aim of the first chapter is to give you a clear understanding of the indicators of vulnerability used by the CAF. It takes you through what the five outcomes from Every Child Matters (ECM) mean in practical terms and what circumstances will best help children and young people to realise them. It will also help you to understand the unique position of schools in terms of the knowledge they already have of children and young people and how the CAF is the tool you should use to identify any unmet needs.
Chapter 2 – An overview of the Common Assessment Framework and the supporting tools and processes
This chapter focuses on the basic principles behind the CAF and the tools and processes that local authorities must put in place to support it. It enables you to identify the current level of staff awareness in your school using the questionnaire provided and to offer CAF awareness training to all school staff using the materials provided here and on the accompanying CD.
Chapter 3 - When might a Common Assessment be helpful?
Chapter 3 focuses on understanding the types of situation in which a CAF might be helpful. It contains a series of case studies describing the circumstances of a number of children and young people. The case studies are about children of different ages and genders explored in relation to the five ECM outcomes.
Chapter 4 - The pre-assessment checklist
This chapter looks at the pre-assessment checklist form, which you can use to help you decide if the child or young person is vulnerable in terms of the five ECM outcomes. Included are further case studies and matching completed sample checklists which help illustrate how this pre-assessment tool might be used. A questionnaire is included to support your completion of the checklist by assisting your assessment whether the child/young person has a good chance of achieving the five outcomes or whether they are vulnerable and at risk.
Chapter 5 - Carrying out a full Common Assessment
This section of the book explores how you might gather the information you need from parents and children/young people to help you complete the CAF. It includes a number of questionnaires which can be used with adults, young people between 12 years and 16 years and children from 7 years to 11 years. You will also find suggestions for using role-play and small toy activities to explore the thoughts and feelings of children between 5 and 7 years of age.
Chapter 6 - Using the information to complete a CAF
Chapter 6 includes three case studies covering infants, junior and secondary aged pupils as well as sample pre-assessment and full CAF forms for each case study, including one where parental consent is refused and a young person agrees to a CAF on their own behalf. It explains how to identify from the all the information you have collected what is significant enough to be recorded on the CAF form.
Chapter 7 - The multi-agency meeting
This chapter takes you through your first multi-agency meeting and how to prepare for and conduct it, and includes example letters inviting colleagues to this first meeting.