This module is one of the electives available to students during Stage 2 of the Legal Practice Course and forms part of the General Practice route elective group.

The module covers a wide spectrum of issues which are relevant in the practice of public child care law. It looks in detail at the ways in which the state can interfere in private and family life and how disagreements between individuals and the State are resolved.

The aim of this module is to provide students with an understanding of not just how the law works in this field but how it is applied by the Courts, social workers and lawyers. Students will consider the approaches taken when advising anyone involved in the process, local authorities, parents and children.

The module is delivered by a combination of group sessions, workshops and independent study. The module is assessed by examination.


Main Text: Childcare and Adoption Law, A Practical Guide, McFarlane and Reardon, Family Law (2006)

Child Law Handbook: Guide to Good Practice, Goldthorpe & Munro, Law Society (2005)

Working Together to Safeguard Children DoH (2006)

What To Do If You are Worried A Child Is Being Abused DoH (2003)

Public Law Outline, MoJ (2008)

Children Act 1989: Guidance and regulations MoJ (2008)

Good Practice in Child Care Cases, Law Society (2004)

Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families DoH (2000)

E-Learning Portal Site and Materials

A range of materials to support both lectures and workshops and to facilitate directed learning will be provided via the Child Care Law e-learning portal site.


Element 1: Pre proceedings

Students should develop a knowledge and understanding of the role of Local Authorities, parents and children in the process of investigating allegations of child abuse and be able to:

1. understand the core concepts underpinning the child protection system including parental responsibility, the welfare principle, multi agency co-operation and co-operative working between the Local Authority and families.

2 identify that a child may be “in need” or at risk of “significant harm”

3. advise on the obligations upon Local Authorities to provide services to such children and their families or to undertake assessments into their circumstances.

4. advise on the obligations of other agencies to co-operate with Local Authorities in assessing such children and their families.

5. advise on the process of assessments of such children and the role of the Child Protection Conference

6.understand the role of the solicitor when acting for local authorities, parents and children and the professional conduct issues arising those roles such as attendance at Child Protection Conferences

Unde 7. undertake effective research to ensure an up to date grasp of the law relating to child protection dealing with case law, legislation, guidance, inquiry papers and government circulars.

Element 2: Proceedings

Students should develop a knowledge and understanding of the different types of Public Children Act proceedings and be able to:

1. identify the steps needed to be taken prior to the issue of proceedings.

2. advise on the circumstances in which emergency preventative action might be taken under an Emergency Protection Order, Child Assessment Order or Police Protection.

3. advise on the circumstances in which an application might be made for a Care or Supervision Order.

4. advise on the role of Private Children Act proceedings, in particular contact, residence and special guardianship.

5. draft applications for EPO’s, interim orders, Care and Supervision Orders.

6. take full instructions from clients for the preparation of statements or applications within Public Children Act proceedings.

7. draft relevant Court Orders in compliance with the Protocol or Public Law Outline and to understand the Courts role in case management.

8. comply with the procedural and professional demands of the Public Law Outline.

9. advise clients on the nature of directions which might be sought during Public Children Act proceedings.

10. understand how to prepare for and conduct contested hearings in Public Children Act proceedings.

11. understand the concept of “care planning” and “permanency planning” for children.

12. understand how the views of the child are taken into account in the proceedings and the role of the Children’s Guardian.

13. 13. understand the professional obligations to the Court during care proceedings and the provisions of the relevant Code of Practice on Advocacy.

14. 14. understand how to deal with conflicts of interest, in particular for the solicitor acting for both a competent child and Children’s Guardian.

15. 15. undertake research on up to date case law relating to current practice in the field of child protection

Element 3: Challenge

Students should understand the means by which decisions of the Local Authority can be challenged by both parents and children and should be able to:

1. advise on the impact of the Human Rights Act on decisions by the Court and Local Authority, in particular Articles 2, 3, 6 and 8.

2. advise on and draft applications to discharge Care and Supervision Orders.

3. advise on the role of Reviewing Officers and the Social Services Complaints Procedure to challenge decisions.

4. understand the role of the competent child in Public Children Act proceedings and advise accordingly.

5. understand the role of Judicial Review of Local Authority decision making
6. undertake research on the policy and political drivers which impact on the field of child protection law


The aims of this option will be to equip the students with:

(1) sound knowledge of the substantive law;

(2) sound knowledge of all aspects of the relevant procedure and caselaw relating to child care applications;

(3) the particular skills that they will require to enable them to competently practice as trainee solicitors in this area, whether acting for parents or the local authority. Students will develop an understanding of the particular difficulties faced by solicitors representing children is such proceedings;

(iv) an appreciation of the difficulties of practising within this area whether in private or public law or for a private client or local authority, particularly considering the multi-disciplinary nature of child protection and the professional conduct issues that may arise when practising in this area.


On completion of the Childcare elective, students should have a general overview of the system of Public Child Law. Students should be able to:

1. identify the aims of their client, whether Local Authority, parent, child or family member and advise them on the best means by which they can achieve those aims.

2. understand and apply the law relating to child protection so as to identify the responsibilities of Local Authorities to children “in need”, “looked after” or at risk of “significant harm”.

3. draft applications for a range of Public Children Act Orders.

4. identify critical steps in the process of Public Children Act proceedings and advise their client accordingly.

5. recognise and act within the rules of professional conduct.








The module will be delivered through a combination of large and small group sessions, directed learning and independent learning.

The large group sessions will be delivered to the entire module cohort and will be used in part to introduce students to the major principles of each topic. They will place these principles in context by examining them against relevant factual scenarios.

The small group sessions (which will consist of between 16 – 20 students), will, in conjunction with the directed and independent learning, expand on the material covered in the large group sessions with emphasis on the use of practical scenarios as the basis for relevant skills based and interactive sessions to apply that material to the scenario. Other sessions will require problem solving skills to identify key issues, plan strategies for taking problems forward and drafting aspects of the necessary documentation to do so. Where appropriate to the subject area students will be required to analyse and critique relevant legal material.

Students will be given directed learning which will both expand on the materials provided in the large group sessions and cover specific topics not dealt with in those sessions. This will be supported by formative self test questions. Students will also be expected to carry out independent learning to both expand on the materials covered in the large group sessions and directed learning and to prepare for the tasks in the small group sessions. Examples of independent learning will include locating and reading relevant legal source material.

Experiential learning is prevalent in the simulated practice exercises that take place in most of the small group sessions.


a Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

Summative assessment will be provided by an examination made up of a three hour open book practical paper based on advance documents..

The use of advance documents allows greater opportunity to test knowledge and application in the examination and allows greater use of realistic legal scenarios.

b. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale

Formative assessment will be provided by self test questions which students will complete through the module e-learning portal site and in small group sessions.

Students will be provided with copies of previous exam papers and are invited to submit draft answers for comment and suggestion.

c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning

Answers to the self test questions will be available on the e-learning portal and feedback on practice papers will be provided to students undertaking them.



Course info

Credits 1

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year full-time

Department Northumbria Law School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

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