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10.2 Writing Briefing Notes to Director or Service Managers


  1. Introduction
  2. What a Briefing Note should Contain
  3. Style and Content
  4. Serious Injury or Death of a Child

1. Introduction

There are occasions when the Director of Children’s Services and/or the Head of Children’s Social Care will require concise details of a case or situation, usually provided by a manager or, occasionally, a social worker.

These details should take the form of a written Briefing Note, generally in the format detailed below.

Briefing Notes are sometimes personally requested by the Director or service managers, after they have learned some of the facts or one side of a story. However, staff should not wait for this request before providing information, as the Director may not yet be aware of the matter in question. It is important to avoid a situation where the Director and service managers first hear about a matter from the press or public.

On other occasions you may have to make a judgement about the need to provide a Briefing Note. A Service Manager will advise if there is any uncertainty about the need to do this.

Examples of when a Briefing Note should be considered:

  • When an issue arises which is likely to have a high profile within the Directorate, or with the public or the media;
  • When staff become aware that a serious incident* has occurred, or an offence has been committed, which concerns the Directorate in some way, e.g. in relation to a case or member of staff;
  • When a child goes missing and the situation has reached the stage where publicity is being considered.

2. What a Briefing Note should Contain

  • Heading and date;
  • Background information (briefly setting the context);
  • Key information such as DOB, family composition, legal status;
  • Key people involved and their role, including who is leading;
  • The current issue/situation and the Children’s Social Care involvement;
  • What steps are being taken now to address the issue, and by whom;
  • Further planning in progress, including contingency plan;
  • Anticipated/intended outcome;
  • Possibility of other (risky/adverse) outcomes.

3. Style and Content

A Briefing Note should be kept as concise as possible, and care should be taken with the standard of language, spelling and punctuation. Facts, including names and dates, should be as accurate as possible at the time of writing, and any areas of uncertainty, or where information is still awaited, should be clearly indicated. The Director may need to use the Note as the basis of his response to early enquiries from the press or others, so the information you provide, and the professional tone and standard of your Note should reflect this.

4. Serious Injury or Death of a Child

For incidents involving serious harm or death of a child, the Children’s Standards Manager should also be informed immediately in order to complete the statutory notification to OFSTED (See also Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Looked After and Child in Need) Procedure).

NB: Briefing Notes written by social workers should be seen and approved by the Team Manager or Service Manager before submission, and can be e-mailed to the Director, copied to the Head of Children’s Social Care.