Supervising Designated Safeguarding Leads in Schools: Focus on Domestic Abuse

This project aims to explore the experiences of identifying and responding to domestic abuse among Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) in schools, and the effect regular supervision sessions from a social worker had (if any) on schools’ ability to identify and respond to domestic abuse issues.

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Summary & aims

This project explored the confidence and ability of Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) in schools to identify and respond to domestic abuse cases.

It seeks to answer three specific research questions:

  1. How useful have DSLs found previous training and support around safeguarding children from domestic abuse?
  2. How confident and prepared do DSLs feel in identifying and responding to domestic abuse?
  3. Do DSLs perceive any impact on their ability to identify and respond to domestic abuse, as a result of taking part in the DSL supervision programme?


We used a mixed-methods approach that drew on data collected from interviews, focus groups and surveys as part of the implementation and process evaluations (IPEs) of two programmes where DSLs and other school safeguarding staff received regular supervision sessions with a social worker. The programmes were conducted in primary and secondary schools, and fieldwork for the IPEs took place at the end of the interventions in May-July 2022. The final section of the surveys, interviews and focus groups included questions aimed specifically at answering the research questions related to domestic abuse.

The project started in March 2022 and will finish in June 2023.


Sophie Kitson
Assistant Social Researcher
Lucy Stokes
Principal Economist
Private: Johnny Runge
Principal Social Researcher
Jasmin Rostron
Associate Social Researcher
Ekaterina Aleynikova
Senior Social Researcher
Janine Boshoff
Larissa Marioni
Senior Economist
Katharine Stockland
Senior Social Researcher
Max Harvey
Productivity Commission Coordinator
Private: Cecilia Zuniga-Montanez
Postdoctoral Research Associate