Multi-disciplinary professional work with children

Submitting Institution

Leeds Metropolitan University

Unit of Assessment

Social Work and Social Policy

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Medical and Health Sciences: Public Health and Health Services
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Sociology

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Summary of the impact

Professor Frost has undertaken a substantial body of work relating to multi-professional work with vulnerable children and young people. This has had an impact on public policy and practice, through publications, conferences and Professor Frost's direct engagement with public bodies. Through engagement with public bodies Professor Frost's work has helped to inform, influence and change policy and practice. There has been an impact on the work of Safeguarding Boards, in the field of child sexual exploitation and on the practice of multi-disciplinary working across a number of organisations.

Underpinning research

Frost's research has been primarily concerned with multi-professional interventions with children and young people and the organisation of children's services. The work has explored the nature of inter-professional work and how professionals can improve the process and outcomes of such work.

The body of work draws on a number of projects including:

ESRC 2002-05 New forms of Professional Knowledge and Practice in multi-agency Services, R000239916 £122,061
Research in Practice Literature review - Integrated Practice on of the frontline (2005-2006) Leeds City Council Various projects - 2007-2013
ESRC 2013-15 Effective and Appropriate Sharing of Information ES/K00557x/1 £36,551

Frost (with colleagues) produced one of the first evidence-based books on multi-professional work with children, `Developing Multi-Professional Work for Integrated Children's Services', which outlines the findings of an ESRC funded project. This book was published as an up-dated second edition in 2010, with a 3rd edition being recently commissioned. A number of refereed journal publications have also been produced, some of which have been submitted as part of the REF exercise.

Frost produced a literature for Research in Practice in 2005 on integrated working for frontline professionals. This has been converted into a training programme for frontline managers and professionals that has been delivered in local authorities nationwide during 2012/13.

Frost has contributed two chapters to a forthcoming Open University text book on multi-disciplinary working with children and young people. These chapters bring together research that to the best of our knowledge never been synthesised in this manner previously.

In summary the body of research draws on Wenger's theory relating to `communities of practice' and applies this concept to the field of professional work with children and young people. The research focuses on a) the extent of growth of multi-professional work with children and young people b) how actual practice is operating and how this can be understood c) how professional practice can change to bring about improved outcomes for children and young people. Methods utilised include face-to-face semi-structured interviews, focus groups, observation, documentary study and surveys. The findings have implications for frontline staff, their managers and leaders and for policy makers. Professor Frost has engaged at all these organisational levels on a regional, national and international basis. The research can contribute to influencing and changing professional practice and can make a contribution to improving outcomes for children and young people.

References to the research

Frost, N. (2005) Professionalism, Partnership and Joined-up Thinking: a research review of front- line working with children and families, Research in Practice, Dartington.

Anning, A., Cottrell, D., Green, J., Frost, N., and Robinson, M. (2010) Developing Multi- Professional Work for Integrated Children's Services, 2nd edition, OUP, London

Frost, N. A future for Interdisciplinary professional work; mainstream to oppositional? In Brock, A. & Rankin, C. (eds) (2011) Professionalism in the early years interdisciplinary team: supporting young children and their families. London: Continuum.

Frost, N. and Parton, N. (2009) (eds) Understanding Children's Social Care. London: Sage

Frost, N. Leading children's services: some contemporary issues and challenges, Journal of Children's Services, 4:3 pp 50-59


Frost, N & Stein, M. Outcomes of Integrated working with children and young people, Children and Society, 2009, pp 315-9



ESRC 2002-05
New forms of Professional Knowledge and Practice in multi-agency Services, R000239916 £122,061

Leeds City Council 2007-13
Consultancy role of children's services £105,000

Research in Practice 2004-2012
Producing literature review and production of training pack £10,000

ESRC 2013-15
Effective and Appropriate Sharing of Information ES/K00557x/1 £36,551

Details of the impact

Professor Frost was appointed as the Independent Chair of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, for a four year period commencing in 2010. See:

This is a leadership position involving working with senior managers of children's services - including health, social care, criminal justice and education. The work involves taking complex decisions about the management of situations where children have died or experienced serious incidents. The appointment arose directly from research presentations and dissemination relating to multi-disciplinary work. The chairing role delivers an income stream for the University. The contract with Bradford finishes 30th January, 2014. The local authority area was subject to an Ofsted inspection during 2012 during which the partnership working (which included the Safeguarding Board) was found to be excellent. See 8A2AE5BA766D/0/BradfordCouncilSafeguardingandlookedafterchildrenOfstedinspection2012.pdf

Professor Frost has recently been appointed to the equivalent role in North Yorkshire, commencing 1st September, 2013. His research activity was mentioned by the organisation as an underlying reason for his appointment. The Chief Executive of North Yorkshire issues the following statement to staff following the appointment:

`I am very pleased to announce that Professor Nick Frost has been offered and accepted the role of Independent Chair of North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board. The selection process involved strong partner representation from the Board's Executive and they were unanimous in their recommendation. Nick has a long and distinguished career in safeguarding and wider children's services. He has published widely particularly on multiagency partnership working and brings a positive collaborative style to build on the work of our previous chair'.


The Chairing of Safeguarding Boards has a direct impact on policy and practice with children and young people. The work includes monitoring service delivery, enhancing multi-disciplinary work and addressing any inter-professional conflicts that arise between professional and/or organisations.

Professor Frost also Chairs a West Yorkshire wide group (2012-present) addressing the complex issue of child sexual exploitation together with the police. Professor Frost has utilised his research findings to influence the delivery of services around Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). In Bradford services have developed, under the influence of Professor Frost, to develop a multi-disciplinary, `co-located' hub, which has significantly enhanced the delivery of services. This has led directly to an increased number of arrests of suspected perpetrators and significantly improved services for children and young people. At a meeting held in July 2013, with the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Professor Frost was praised for his leadership in the field of challenging the sexual exploitation of young people.

Professor Frost was appointed an Associate for the organisation Research in Practice in 2010, which aims to ensure that research findings have an impact. He has developed a training pack on multi-professional work for dissemination within local authorities. He has worked directly with a number of multi-disciplinary teams to help them plan their work and service delivery. This has a direct impact on the way that services are configured, designed and delivered.

He has also acted as a research advisor to the Republic of Ireland government (2008-09) on multi- disciplinary working. This led to the publication of a number of reports which have directly influenced Irish policy and practice through promoting good practice with children and families. See you tube

Professor Frost has close links with a wide-range of statutory organisations (including the Department for Education, and a number of local authorities) and voluntary organisations (including Home-Start, Action for Children, CLIC Sergeant, Barnardo's and the NSPCC) for which he contributes to conferences, `away days' and service planning. All these events help to shape practice and policy.

Professor Frost is regularly invited to give keynote addresses on topics relating to multi-disciplinary work with children - during the last two years over 20 such addresses at international (Denmark and Eire), national and regional conferences. These are largely practitioner-based conferences attended by senior managers, policy makers and practitioners in the field. As a result of these inputs Professor Frost is often asked to run workshops, away days and related events with managers and practitioners.

Professor Frost has contributed two chapters to the forthcoming Open University book that underpins programmes relating to multi-disciplinary work with children and young people. This book makes a contribution to influencing and shaping the workforce of the future.

Sources to corroborate the impact


Brock, A., Frost, A. Karban, K., Smith S (2009) Towards inter-professional partnerships: a resource pack, Leeds Metropolitan University



Director of Children's Services, Bradford Metropolitan Council
City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council Department of Children's Services

Head of Workforce Development, Leeds City Council Children's Services

Director of Children's Services, North Yorkshire County Council Corporate Director - Children and Young People's Service

Independent Consultant and former Social Services leader.