Social workers will be placed in schools across the country to help identify children at risk of abuse and neglect, the government has announced.
Nearly £10 million of funding from the Department for Education (DfE) has been announced for projects aimed at boosting the educational outcomes of vulnerable children and keeping them safe from harm.
Coronavirus and inequality: Williamson warned over grading 'injustice'
Of this package, £6.5 million will be allocated to What Works for Children's Social Care, which will deploy social workers in more than 150 schools to help staff spot the signs of children at risk more quickly.
It follows figures showing that police have seen a rise in domestic abuse incidents during the lockdown.
A group of leading charities have called on the government to invest money in children's services to stop families reaching crisis point after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: "The stark reality is that too many children are growing up at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation. These are the most vulnerable in society, and the ones that most need our help.
"For these children, schools offer a safe space to get support, develop resilience and fulfil their potential.
"That is why, as schools begin opening more widely and we look to the future, we must take all the steps we can to protect these children.
"By bringing social workers into schools, we can spot the warning signs more quickly."
Some schools in England have police officers attached to them as part of safer school partnerships (SSPs) – but it is unusual for social workers to be deployed into schools.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "Schools, colleges and their staff shoulder a huge responsibility in watching out for and acting on signs of children and young people being at risk, and they rise to this challenge with great judgement, skill, and care.
"We are sure they will welcome the assistance of social workers being on site to provide direct support, particularly post the Covid-19 crisis when it is sadly very likely that we will see increased numbers of children at risk as a result of the multiple pressures of this emergency situation."