How to address applicants in Special Guardianship Report

There are differing views about how to address special guardians and their families throughout the Special Guardianship report.

A Special Guardianship Report is a court document.

I have worked in a Local Authority where they did not formalise the use of names throughout the Special Guardianship (SGO) report. They would refer to applicants by their first names throughout the SGO report.

I share this to show that practice differs across local authorities, despite the special guardianship report being a formal document.

What you need to keep in mind, is that the Special Guardianship report is a Court document. It should therefore remain formal.

The rule of thumb for Court documents, is that names used should be formal, and should use Ms, Miss, Mrs or Mr. etc

Consequently, you should discuss with the Local Authority/Agency that you are working on behalf of as to their preferred format.

sgo court report

Consistency of names throughout the Special Guardianship report

Often the special guardianship assessment report is being completed by two social workers. The child’s social worker usually completes the child’s and parents’ information, with the assessing social worker completing the parts relating to the special guardians.

You should therefore, confer with the social worker completing the other parts of the special guardianship report. You should both be using the same name for applicants and ensure that they are addressed the same way throughout the report.

For example, the birth parent should be referred to using the same format Ms, Miss or Mrs throughout. When you complete the prospective applicant’s part, you would also need to refer to them in this formal manner.

This formal use of names can make the report clumsier to read. it can also add to the length of the report.

But it does means that the Special Guardianship report (SGO) will flow much better. And remains consistent.

Most importantly, you must ensure that you have the correct Ms, Miss or Mrs at the relevant time when referring to the different parties.

A further complication with names can happen when there are two Miss Bloggs.

For example, in the case of the applicant’s birth children, there could be two adults using the same formal reference. In these cases, you would refer to the non-birth parent using their full name i.e. Miss Jane Bloggs and the birth parent would be Miss Bloggs throughout.

Added complication of using formal names in Special Guardianship report.

You may also come across similar issues with the males who have the same names. For example, when father and son are both called John Bloggs, you could in these cases refer to them as Mr Bloggs (Senior) or Mr Bloggs (Junior) to show the difference.

special guardianship report

Ensure that the Special Guardianship report flows when using the different names

Your special guardianship report will need to flow throughout. The names referred to in the first part should be the same as in the applicant’s section which you are completing. Therefore, it is important to clarify and agree which names you will both be using early on in the process.

It is your role as the SGO assessor to ensure that the Special Guardianship report flows and is consistent when referring to the applicants and the birth parents.

Issues that can arise with formal names in the special guardianship report

I cannot stress to you early on in the process to check and make sure you get this right. You can save yourself hours of time of having to go back through a report to simply change the name references.

If by some chance, you find that you have to make changes to the names throughout a report, then let me share a quick tip.

Important Quick Tip – When Changing Formal Names on Special Guardianship Report

If you are thinking of using the REPLACE ALL feature on a word document. DON’T.

I have done that with disastrous consequences.

I ended up with an unreadable document and had to spend hours going back over it and changing the names manually.

The replace all will change every name and it sometimes misses the name when there is an apostrophe.

It will change the SGO report in places you don’t want to change it, i.e. in the part where you have to provide the full name of the applicant, such as at the beginning of the document.  

If you have to change the names, I suggest that you use the replace feature but do  this manually and one by one, checking each name you replace as you go along.

Yes, it’s going to be tedious. It is going to take a bit of time but not as much if you have to go back and do it all again, if you decide to use the replace all.

Final thoughts.

When completing Special Guardianship (SGO) reports, remember they are formal court documents. They need to read well and have the correct name references throughout. They need to be consistent throughout the report.


Special Guardianship Info –  Giving SGO a Voice