GIRFEC blog – Headteacher Marion Samson’s meeting with the Minister for Children & Young People

Marion Samson Headteacher Falkirk Westquarter Primary May 2013Marion Samson is headteacher at Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk. Today, she’ll be meeting Minister for Children & Young People, Aileen Campbell, and explaining her role as ‘named person’. Here, Marion gives us a flavour of what she will be discussing with the Minister…

I’ve been an educator for over 30 years and it is great to be working in education – as a headteacher and named person – at a time when the momentum of Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) has reached a point where we have the procedures, processes, political will and mechanisms to be able to make a difference to children at an early stage.

To do that, however, schools have to take GIRFEC seriously. We need to put the child at the heart of everything.

GIRFEC is our job. It cannot be seen as something ‘additional’ to educating the child. If we do not get it right for the child they will not have chances or choices, and they won’t be able to access education throughout their life.

In school the named person is usually someone in a senior position simply because class teachers do not always have the time to liaise with other services. As named person I am there both to support and to challenge.

I am there to support families and be the point of contact for other professionals but there are also times when challenge is needed.

And as named person I need to have contingency plans in place for holidays, ensuring records and information are accessible in a safe and secure way to enable information to be shared. 

In times of stress or concern we all need someone to fight for us and to keep things together. That is my role and by doing that then hopefully the right supports can be put in place to allow families to get back on track.

My role is also to ensure that parents and carers in my school are informed and knowledgeable about GIRFEC. Over the past few years I have had some parents question why I would ask them about issues at home as they felt that we should focus only on achievement. Now in our Primary 1 induction meetings I invite parents and carers to come and meet the team and we introduce all of the professionals in other services who work with us.

We outline the principles of GIRFEC and the need for all of us to share information and this is now something families have come not just to accept but to value highly as well.

You Can Find Out More About GIRFEC Here

Marion Samson

Headteacher

Westquarter Primary and Nursery in Falkirk

Have your say

Join in the discussion and help us make Scottish Education even better.

45 Responses to “GIRFEC blog – Headteacher Marion Samson’s meeting with the Minister for Children & Young People”

  1. Families Opposing GIRFEC (FOG) is an action group set up by Scottish parents to raise awareness and stand against this attack on family autonomy. GIRFEC is absolutely unnecessary and wholly unwelcome. The vast majority of children in Scotland are very well looked after within their families, we do not need state intervention. Please help us raise awareness and stand against this by sharing this link: http://www.familiesopposinggirfec.com/
    Parents in Scotland we must fight this!!

  2. William says:

    GIRFEC seems to have been packaged and sold as a scheme to protect the most vulnerable children through early intervention, but it doesn't take much googling to realise that it is a universal data mining monster which is already collecting and sharing information about every single child in Scotland, including the personal details of every adult connected with the child.

    What makes it all the more concerning is that the scheme, which has been so enthusiastically embraced by politicians of all colours (including, ironically, the civil libertarian sorts who campaigned against ID cards) appears to have no statutory basis and is governed by guidelines which have not been properly scrutinised. That surely means that the usual rules apply, whereby blanket data sharing without consent is unlawful, leaving professional snoopers vulnerable to prosecution for failing to adhere to data protection legislation. Or am I missing something?

    One suspects that the election of an SNP government in 2007 stymied Labour's plans for their proposed bill to legalise GIRFEC (dressed up in child protection clothing to placate the public), but it is puzzling (to this lay person at least) how the introduction of a universal citizen surveillance scheme could be deemed human rights compliant, which is a requirement of all legislation passed by Holyrood. They appear to have gone and done it anyway without waiting for legislation.

  3. Keith says:

    I think Orwell foresaw GIRFEC a long time ago lol .

    In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a 'party line'. Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White Papers, and the speeches of Under-Secretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, home-made turn of speech.

    George Orwell, Politics and the English Language,1946

  4. Lisa says:

    Marion Samson has posted above "As named person I am there both to support and to challenge."

    Can you clarify ? Challenge what exactly ?

    You also posted "GIRFEC is our job."

    No it isnt . Your job is to give children a proper education not to snoop and data rape families .

    You also state "If we do not get it right for the child they will not have chances or choices, and they won’t be able to access education throughout their life"

    Thats not very professional now is it ? In fact its complete nonsense and you know it . If your going to lie then please try doing a better job in future or in teacher speak "must try harder".

    You also state "I am there to support families"

    But what if families dont want your "support" Then what ? You force it on them ? Threaten to remove the children?

    You state "We outline the principles of GIRFEC and the need for all of us to share information and this is now something families have come not just to accept but to value highly as well."

    Families have come to accept being data raped have they ? Do the comments above aswell as the other GIRFEC blog's reflect that opinion ? If that whats you think then im sorry but your clearly deluded.

    In fact are you actually a fit and proper person to carry out those duties ? You have not only clearly lied to the public in your post but you seem very confused on the duties / purpose of your job . In my opinion your not fit to hold the position of assistant never mind head teacher .

  5. Zach says:

    Talking about burying your heads in the sand …. Jeez

    Salmond is forever spouting off about being an, open and honest govt . If this is honest then god help us all.

  6. Davie says:

    This is shocking !! Not only the "named person" but the "data sharing" proposals could be right out of orwels book.

    When will this two bob , jumped up bunch of flag waving muppetts realise that they have been elected to the office they hold to represent and serve US and NOT TO RULE over us ? This is a major screwup from the SNP.

    It crystal clear that this bill is unpopular (to put it mildly) so its a major boo boo to attempt to bring this in at the same time as holding a referendum . The SNP are certainly not the brightest blubs in the box are they .

    Its quite clear they wants this introduced regardless. So go ahead and force it through and kiss good by to thousands of votes in the referendum and the coming elections ….And lets not forget the legal challenges….. Idiots !

  7. Rab says:

    This legislation shows that the SNP has a complete lack of trust and respect for parents. Despite their being cases of abuse almost every week being carried out by school workers etc they are pressing ahead regardless . They are sending the message that they dont care if some paedo abuses our children and they dont care about parental rights or concerns. They know better than everyone else. But according to the head teacher on this blog the PVG scheme has been strengthened so theres nothing to worry about.

    Yet workers continue to be convicted of abusing children thats how effective the pvg scheme is!!

    Lets see how much respect and trust the SNP has in parents when it comes to begging for our votes in the referendum and elections. In my opinion the quicker you lot booted out of office the safer it will be for the parents and children of this country .

  8. Alison says:

    This is nothing but a paedophiles charter , The SNP are in danger or exposing the children of scotland to the Jimmy Savile's of this world . But its ok as they know better than the scared parents . I think its quite clear the SNP dont care about the opinions and rights of the parents and families and they continue to bury their head in the sand on this despite the real dangers this poses to children and their families .

  9. Steve says:

    So if you cut out all the cr*p what they're basically saying is parents can't be trusted to look after their own children properly? Yeah, thanks for that i'll remember that when your asking for my vote.

  10. Rob says:

    The information sharing provisions in this bill are nothing more than an attempt to data rape the population.

  11. Bill says:

    Given the number of professionals in the children's services area who have been convicted of offences against children, I don't see why I should trust one of them simply because a public servant somewhere has decided to apply a label of 'Named Person'.

    If you create a whole industry around children with legal right of access, then as well as those who honestly want to do the best for children, you're going to attract the less pleasant group who have their own interests at heart and who don't actually care about the children. Are we honestly going to take that risk ?

  12. Linda says:

    Looks like all the other posts and threads are being removed or closed by the site admins to stifle the criticism being shown by parents . Now that the SNP know that parents dont want this they will try any deceitful or under handed tactic to silence us.

    Scotland is now a dictatorship !! All hail Alex Mein Furer

  13. Linda Murray says:

    I see there still hasn't been any response from this govt to the questions or points raised by parents. So much for choice and democracy. It's not very democratic for a govt to force its opinions on the population without any sort of consultation.

    The vast majority or parents in the country have said that they do not want this , the big question is . Are the SNP prepared to go against the wishes of the voters in pursuit of their own narrow minded vision? Probably but that's nationalism for you.

    Looks like the parents of Scotland will be forced to voice their opinions on voting day instead .

  14. Sally says:

    GIRFEC is a stupid idea which will throw up countless false positives, divert scare resources away from those who need them and swing the balance crucially towards a presumption that the state is a better parent than parents themselves. I would recommend that readers Google the coverage of GIRFEC in The Scottish Review.

  15. d Carnie says:

    There is an interesting story thats related to this problem in todays Daily record (2/11/2013) page 4 title "childsnatchers" .

    South Ayrshire council sent a threatening letter to a family threatening to evict them for the bedroom tax then take their kids from them . Apparently the council say its all part of their duties as a "corporate parent" . Which is part of this legislation . It proves that no matter what the SNP tell us ,how it is being implemented on the ground is completely different .

    This legislation is already being used the threaten and intimidate parents and the law hasnt even went through parliament yet and it wil get worse when this comes into affect Scotland wide .

    The boss of said council denied threatening families and is quoted as saying "That's clearly nonsense. Thats not the spirit or the intention of the services. It's quite the opposite .

    Any right minded individual may be wondering how he has came to this conclusion after reading the threatening letter (which was also printed) which contains comments like "If you have any children in your household we may also inform child services"

    The council is effectively saying "when we put you out on the street for not paying bedroom tax then will take your kids from you aswell"

    Absolutely disgraceful!!! So much for Mr Salmond's pledge that no scottish family would be evicted for not being able to pay the bedroom tax but to also threaten to take the children is shameful .

    "Do as we say or we'll take your kids"

    This legislation hasnt even become law yet and the local council nazi's are all ready threatening and bullying families . This is a sign of what is too come to the rest of scotland if this legislation passes .

  16. Steven Boyd says:

    European and domestic case law does not support the imposition of unversal surveilance such as those outlined in this legislation, which would be in clear breach of Article 8 and cannot be deemed ‘proportionate’ when they involve the routine processing of the sensitive personal data of every child and associated adult without express informed consent. The Scottish Parliament is not empowered to enact legislation which fails to comply with the ECHR and such legislation has previously been declared incompetent by the Supreme Court. If this legislation passes as it is just now then it is inevitable that there will be legal challenges on ECHR and data protection grounds.

  17. Alison McPherson says:

    This is nothing more than an national identity register, but why would the govt introduce this proposal when scotlands MSP's already rejected the id card system ? This is the same thing only introduced under a different name. The potential for abuse in a system like this is staggering and the fact its targetting our children makes this proposal especially sinister .

  18. Linda Murray says:

    Part 2

    Sections 1.3 and 1.4 of the Privacy Impact Assessment do state the areas of risk,but there seems to be a suggestion that the impact problem is primarily one of security ,which is a fundamental misunderstanding of privacy and data protection.

    Section 2 of the assessment is superficial in its references to privacy risk–it is not at all clear that there is even a basic understanding of privacy, its nature and significance. This is compounded by the reference in section 2.8 to ”the eight data sharing principles of the Data Protection Act 1998."

    This description amounts to a serious and fundamental misunderstanding of data protection. The Principles apply to all aspects of data processing and are not there primarily to facilitate data sharing.

    The risks specified in section 3 and the risk register are overwhelmingly about security matters except for the first item which concerns diminution of trust threatening effective social work. Nowhere is there any consideration of the notion that privacy is about private ‘space’ to allow the development of the personality of the individual.

    The European Court of Human Rights has determined that “…the guarantee afforded by Article 8 of the Convention is
    primarily intended to ensure the development, without outside interference, of the personality of each individual in his relations with other human beings.”

    Data protection is not the same as privacy; nevertheless, the Privacy Impact Assessment is flawed and incomplete without having a proper understanding of the right to private life, nor can compliance with the fairness principle be properly addressed without understanding the nature of and the need for privacy. There are, of course, circumstances where a child’s right to privacy needs to be overridden in an effort to protect them from harm but the starting position must still be that the child / family has a right to a private life. As presently drafted, this Bill falls far short of that position by permitting and encouraging routine data sharing on all children and families.

    To be clear, while there are several alternatives to consent, every one of the alternatives has a requirement of necessity. This should be neither surprising nor objectionable: you can share information when you need to, and whether or not you need to, you can share information with permission.

    But the Data Protection Act simply does not allow – anywhere – for information to be shared without consent when it is not necessary to do so.

    It follows that any legislative provision which purports to allow information sharing which is neither consensual nor necessary, will fall foul of the Data Protection Act and the EU directive from which the Data Protection Act derives.

    Of course, the concerns about GIRFEC are that it does precisely that.

    Information sharing is not necessary because it is lawful; it is lawful when it is necessary.

    • Bill Casey says:

      Nice post . It will be interesting to read what the cheerleaders for this proposal have to say in response … not very much i would imagine .

  19. Linda Murray says:

    This bill risks enshrining into law the ability for "strangers" to have unrestricted access to all kinds or sensitive/private information about all families . This is not only very alarming on a data protection point of view but also from a child safety concern . The potential for this information to be misused is very real and cannot sinply be swept aside by saying the PVG scheme has been strengenthed .

    Its a fact that this bill has no safeguards for data subjects despite this being a fundamental part of the current data protection legislation . It is a fact that this legislation has a very real potential to undermine families and diminish the rights of parents . It is a fact that this legislation has the potential to infringe the human rights of every family in Scotland .

    Section27 of this bill could be seen as an attempt to exercise the rights conferred by Article 5 of the Data Protection Directive in that it ”determines more precisely the conditions under which the processing of personal data is lawful”, or in some other way could be said to be an implied amendment of the Data Protection Act, then the bill is outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament as data protection is a reserved matter.

    The Privacy Impact Assessment which accompanied the Bill does not demonstrate an appreciation of the purpose and requirements of data protection legislation (nor,indeed,other aspects of human rights legislation.) The legislation is proposing a very significant change from the present situation where data may be shared if there is significant concern for the safety of a child to one where data must be shared if there is any concern regarding the child’s wellbeing. This concept is defined in very broad terms which will inevitably leave the matter open to subjective interpretation. In any event, should a mild concern regarding any aspect of ‘wellbeing’ justify acting in breach of a professional obligation of confidence?

    The assessment refers to the first data protection principle. However, most of the other principles are also of direct relevance and need to be considered especially in view of the proposal that all information relating to a child’s ‘wellbeing’ should be passed to the Named Person. What provisions are to be made regarding further disclosure (the 2nd data protection principle) ;the period of time for which the data is to be held (the 5th principle) or the technical and procedural security precautions that must be taken (the 8th principle)? There is no reference to the requirement that data must be processed taking account of the rights of the data subject, including provision for subject access by or on behalf of the data subject. This is likely to be of considerable significance in respect of requests being made by parents for access to data on behalf of a child, particularly in light of the exceptionally broad definition given to the term “parent” in education legislation.

  20. S Moffett says:

    As a parent, I absolutely refute the need for this in the majority of individuals. I abhor the potential of my childrens information being used in a manner that is outwith the remit of their educational and health needs. To use this information without my express consent, and without being told the purpose of such use, takes away my ability to protect my children. This legislation is repugnant, and should not go through. Every case should be judged on the individual circumstances surrounding it, not a series of tick boxes. What may be good for my child may not be good for another. Have the govt forgotten, that even children are individuals with their own personalities, skills and learning styles?

    This Scottish government had better think twice, if they believe that I as a parent will give up mine and my child's rights of privacy and autonomy . Whatever happened to politicians being there to represent and serve the people? this lot dont want to serve they want to rule .

  21. James Craig says:

    While protecting children is important, this legislation uses these real concerns as an excuse to require us all, adults and children, to give up our rights to privacy and autonomy, and give the state unwarranted rights to intrude into our private family lives.

    This is just another step towards the erosion of the family unit and reduces the individual to nothing more than a state-owned commodity.

  22. Donna Crawford says:

    The supposed intention of this bill is for child protection "allegedly" the only thing the majority of kids need protecting from are an over bearing nanny state SNP govt .

    Spying and invading the privacy of every family in scotland isnt the answer.

  23. Steven Douglas says:

    Why are my comments being censored ? This is a govt funded website that is engaging censorship and i will be making a complaint to the ombudsman , my MSP and the national press about what can only be described as political censorship .

  24. Steven Douglas says:

    Why are my comments being censored ? This is a govt funded website that is engaging censorship and i will be making a complaint to the ombudsman , my MSP and the national press about what can only be described as political censorship .

    quote
    "Engage is the Scottish Government’s ground-breaking online project that enables the public and practitioners to discuss education, learning, youth employment and early years policy directly with the Ministers and teams responsible for them."quote

    This is blatantly false. I have made 2 comments on this blog neither of which can be judged , aggressive/abusive in any way but they are removed for no reason that is not moderation that is censorship .

  25. Steven Douglas says:

    People who are critical of this legislation keep being reminded about the PVG scheme and that rigorous checks are made , but this hasnt stopped various appalling scandals of Social and Residential Workers abusing children committed to their care so far has it ? and there is no evidence that will make the slightest difference to GIRFEC.

  26. Engage says:

    Individual PVG scheme member records are updated if a person gets a new conviction or if new relevant information is provided by the police. When new vetting information is received as a result of continuous updating, Disclosure Scotland will consider whether or not it has a bearing on the person’s suitability to continue to be a scheme member.

    This means Disclosure Scotland can act promptly when they get new and relevant vetting information about an individual. If that information meets the statutory tests, Disclosure Scotland will place the person under consideration for listing. This is a formal process that has two possible outcomes. In the case of someone who is a scheme member for doing regulated work with children, these are:
    •the person can remain a PVG scheme member for that type of work, or
    •the person will be removed from the PVG scheme, their name will included in the children’s list and they will be barred from doing regulated work with children.
    While we’ve strengthened the system, no system will deliver 100 per cent protection. It is up to everyone to play their part. If anyone has child protection concerns they should immediately report them to the relevant authorities.

    • Steven Douglas says:

      We keep being reminded about the PVG scheme and that rigorous checks are made , but this hasn't stopped various appalling scandals of Social and Residential Workers abusing children committed to their care so far has it ?

  27. Engage says:

    GIRFEC recognises existing roles in education and health but provides a more coherent framework to make sure there is always someone who can see the bigger picture – if needed.

    You asked what would happen if the Named Person was the abuser.

    The Scottish Government does not tolerate any form of child abuse. The wellbeing and safety of children is a key priority and we have strengthened the systems that protect children and other vulnerable groups from potential abuse.

    All organisations have child protection policies and procedures in place, which all staff are expected to adhere to.
    In addition, the Protection of Vulnerable Groups Act (2007) introduced a new membership scheme in February 2011 for people who do regulated work with vulnerable groups – including children. Ministers intend that by October 2015 everyone in Scotland doing regulated work with children and protected adults should have joined it or, if they are already in post, meet its criteria.

    • Archie says:

      That doesn't answer the question .

      People who are critical of this legislation keep being reminded about the PVG scheme and that rigorous checks are made , but this hasnt stopped various appalling scandals of Social and Residential Workers abusing children committed to their care so far has it ? and there is no evidence that will make the slightest difference to GIRFEC.

      By saying that the PVG scheme has been strengthened you've actually admitted that it wasn't fit for purpose in the first place. I mean how could it be if kids were still being abused even after it was introduced .

  28. DecentParent says:

    I have three kids aged 26, 20 and 14. My 14 year old has special needs. At first glance the implication (by the name) seems good, but why a named person? I feel that this is a blatant infringement of privacy and a total violation of my human rights as a parent.
    I understand that there are many kids out there who are vulnerable, but there are equally many children who are loved and nurtured by good parents. Why target everyone? Its like Big Brother is watching! Also, what happens when the "named person" is the abuser? GIRFEC assumes these named people are whiter than white and this is not always the case. I am the best person to know what is and what is not best for my child, not some teacher or other council employee who barely knows us as a family.
    Sorry, but its a waste of tax payers money. Thank goodness mine are nearly grown up!

    • Engage says:

      You might be interested to look back through this thread and read our earlier response.

      The key thing to emphasise is that the Named Person is not being imposed on parents. There will be a duty on local authorities or health boards to provide a Named Person so that any parent or carer who needs some extra support knows who they can contact. If more co-ordinated help is needed from other professionals, the Named Person will have the access and knowledge to arrange this.

      • Archie says:

        Im quoting engage with the following comment > "The key thing to emphasise is that the Named Person is not being imposed on parents. "

        Its not being imposed ? ok . So do parents have a choice or opinion in this ? I think you'll find that they DO NOT so your comment is factually incorrect . Some people would actually say that's a complete lie.

        The named person is being forced onto parents whether they like it or not . The named person proposal is NOT an opt in/out system its actually compulsory. So if its compulsory how is that NOT forcing onto parents ?

  29. Iain says:

    "A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Data Sharing and Linkage Service will help by providing researchers with secure access to anonymous data. This government is committed to improving Scotland’s public services.

    “Over the past few years we have been working together with our partners to use data that already exists in a way that is efficient, safe and secure and is fully respectful of people’s privacy.” (Scottish Sunday Express 02/06/13)

  30. llondel says:

    I think it was someone in the child protection industry who noted that when searching for a needle in a haystack, one should not start by making the haystack bigger.

    GIRFEC will do just that, and is likely to encourage a culture where making sure all the boxes are ticked is more important than actually doing what's best for an individual family. Those who enter social work wanting to help and make a difference will lose heart and quit, leaving the box-tickers to reign supreme.

    I see the comment "Information will not be routinely gathered or shared without consent. " above. What does the system do when the parents pro-actively state that they do not consent to any information gathering or sharing? My cynical view is that it will raise a flag which causes even more close scrutiny lest they 'have something to hide'. You can opt out any time, but you can never leave the system.

  31. j.mcdermott says:

    This is a vile piece of work and not as sugar coated as the government are making it out to be. I am all for protecting children, but a named person for every child in Scotland is ludicrous. Authorities should be paying more attention to children already in the system that are being failed on a daily basis instead of creating fear in the hearts of families. I am my childrens named person and thats the way it should stay, Data sharing without consent is a violation of Peoples rights. I believe that if families need the extra help then it should be available when requested, but if a family wishes to opt out then this should also be open for them to do so. How many children will suffer thanks to this bill? How much time and money will it take? Will parents be able to access all information regarding such named person before access to our children? Scotland the free country well thats what the Government want us to believe!

  32. letterstopoppet says:

    Thank you for your response and links to articles. I had actually read the TES article when it was published but have refreshed my memory and looked at the information linked.

    I fully understand the need for children to have a ‘backup’ but surely that already exists in a very (overstretched) Child Protection system. Whilst often co-ordination in these areas can be a problem I don’t understand why it can’t be tightened up and imrpoved upon within the current system for those children who are CURRENTLY at risk. I see no point in large amounts of data collection (without constent) on children who are not currently at risk. Of course children need a ‘back up’ . I have no problem with this at all and we are very lucky in the UK to be able to expect this. This is, however, already available to EVERY child (in theory, if the child protection system was foolproof and supported better by budgets). with the childprotection. I’m not saying the child protection system is perfect – it isn’t but perhaps budgets and expertise would be better spent on improving this system before we introduce another to run alongside it.

    I am uneasy about the large amount of information gathering on children and families, who have not shown any concerns and the sharing and storing (as well as taking) of such information without consent. I would like to know from yourselves where will this information be kept? What will happen to it when the child becomes an adult? How will it be kept safely? I don’t for one minute suggest that some families need support at certain times and that that could happen to any child or family. Nor that in certain cases, information should be gathered without consent but to do so, or be able to do so to everyone without consent where there are no real concerns seems nosey at best, and against human rights at worst.

    I am also concerned as to how the ‘named person’ will be trained? How do you train someone to pass judgement on some of the risk factors you have published which seem rather opinion than anything of fact or something that is measurable? How will it work with children who move? Who aren’t in school? Who live a more alternative lifestyle or who have particular needs. I am very pro inclusion, but in being inclusive, one needs to understand that in a democratic country, families have the right to privacy and to live their lives in a way that they see fit so long as they are not harming their children through abuse / neglect and so on. Parents generally know their children best and should generally be allowed to make their own decisions.

    This can be upsetting at times as a professional. There are many times when I see families taking parenting decisions that I would not dream of making for myself and my own daughter or our family. However, who is to really say that I am right and they are wrong when neither is especially detrimental to the child? It comes down to an element of choice, something I fear may be less available to families in the future. And when would these parental decisions be decided to be ‘severe’ enough to be seen as needing intervention? I use as an example the relatively minor event of weaning a child. I researched my options, read books, attended a postnatal talk by a Health visitor at my local baby clinic and decided to go ‘against’ (local) NHS advice (but along with the current UN way of thinking) and baby led wean (BLW) our child. For us as a family it worked wonderfully. Our little girl is a brilliant eater and we enjoyed the process and found it very stress free. That is not to say that this would not have been the case anyway had we weaned the ‘traditional’ way, we will never know. I simply use this as an example. I did not do anything to harm my child, she was eating healthy food and growing appropriately to her charts. I was in regular contact with the health clinic and yet my HV disagreed strongly with my methods (and yet, seemed to know little about them). This was her opinion and I respected that. I did not feel like she particularly respected mine. Which is fine, I suppose up to a point. But should this ‘named person’ aspect come into force properly – would my daughter now be seen as ‘at risk’ further? Would the fact I had done somehing ‘differently’ be seen as bad? What information would have been stored about this? If she then struggled with something ten years down the line that was unconnected would this work ‘against us’? Like I said, I have nothing to hide, but I do not see how aspects of the bill can be supported when they are intrusive into family life, gather information from everyone without consent, are judgemental at times rather than based on scientific fact and are poorly thought through and difficult to execute.
    With thanks
    S. Dawson

    Dear Ms Dawson,

    We’re sorry to hear that you still have concerns. You raised a number of new points which we wanted to give you a bit more detail about. Apologies for the length of this reply – we wanted to make sure we addressed all your points as fully as possible.
    You mention children who are ‘currently at risk’.

    The GIRFEC approach is for every child and that’s really key to everything. We know that the majority of children and young people get all the love, support and encouragement they need from their families and wider networks. But we believe it is impossible to say which children (and families) may at some stage need some extra support and that’s why the ‘e’ in GIRFEC stands for ‘every’. It’s very much about spotting things early on and making sure everyone knows how to get the support they need – if they need it.

    The GIRFEC approach promotes engagement with the child and family at all stages. The Named Person will, therefore, have a key role in making sure that the normal health and education records are kept up to date, securely stored and shared within the legal framework and with the knowledge of the child and parents/carers. For most people taking on the role of Named Person, this will already be something they do as part of their jobs.
    In exercising the information-sharing duties set out in the Bill, Named Persons and other practitioners will have to ensure they comply with all legal and professional obligations, including the Data Protection Act 1998.

    Information will not be routinely gathered or shared without consent.
    If no one has any concerns about a child, there will be no need to gather information. This is about supporting children and families – and above all it’s about putting our children’s wellbeing first.
    However, as the Information Commissioner’s Office has made clear, in circumstances where consent may not be appropriate or required, the Data Protection Act provides conditions to allow the processing of data to proceed. Such circumstances could arise where an assessment of a child’s wellbeing raises concerns. So, if a practitioner believes that in their professional opinion there is risk to a child or young person that may lead to harm, then proportionate sharing of information may be appropriate and allowable under the Data Protection Act.
    Again, in doing so, the Named Person or practitioner will be required to comply with all legal and professional obligations. This is not about passing judgement, it is about using professional skills, expertise and judgement.

    Please be assured that this information will not be stored on a national central database. There is no national central database – this is a myth. Practitioners will use existing business systems to store relevant information. Only information that is proportionate and relevant to a child’s needs will be shared. We do not want anyone to gather information that is of no relevance. What is and isn’t relevant will be a matter for professional judgement – as it is at the moment. Any decision to share should be discussed with the child and family.

    There will be no new ways of storing and keeping information – professionals will use their existing mechanisms and frameworks. There will also be clear and unambiguous guidance to the legislation, setting out (among other details)
    Specific information on the secure handling, retention and disposal of sensitive data will be agreed and managed through the use of Data Sharing Agreements between parties sharing information. The guidance will also set out how information should be shared, handled and retained; and will give advice to children and families about the function and provision of Named Person. Unless there are child protection concerns or a compulsory care order has been made, then information will only be retained in line with normal school information, normally no more than five years from when the matter is resolved.

    In order to identify and manage any perceived risk to privacy, we have carried out a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA). The PIA is a live document and will be used to identify any issues such as secure storage, mishandling of information and any other risk. When guidance is being produced we will specifically refer to the PIA and ensure we avoid or mitigate any of these risks, however likely or unlikely they are to occur.

    You also asked about training for people who have the role of Named Person. As you are probably aware, Named Person roles will sit either within health services or education. In both cases, it will be up to health boards and local authorities to make sure appropriate training is provided. National guidance and support is available on training, and many local authorities and health boards are already putting in place the necessary training for their staff.
    You are quite right in saying that parents generally know their children best and should generally be allowed to make their own decisions. We couldn’t agree more.
    However, when we spoke to 1,500 parents last year (as part of our work developing our Parenting Strategy: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2012/10/4… they told us that they would welcome more support, and signposting to where they can find it. We will continue to engage with parent groups as we develop information to support them in understanding the Bill, and the range of support on offer.
    You also mentioned your concerns about measuring our wellbeing indicators.

    You might find it interesting to read the work done by Edinburgh University last year on this subject: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-Pe… As well as web content, you should be able to download their full report, “Getting it right for every child and young person: a framework for measuring children’s wellbeing.”

    We hope this has allayed your concerns.

    Engage for Education

    • dee thomas says:

      how do you explain the Evidence2Success survey run in all Perthshire schools which the ICO have confirmed in writing was taken in class time to provide the Authority with the data it needed to meet its obligations to GIRFEC and the forthcoming bill. This info was taken from children without explicit parental consent.

  33. Andi Neilson says:

    I am astounded at some of the statements made in this article. School is not the only means to access education, and to suggest "If we do not get it right for the child they will not have chances or choices, and they won’t be able to access education throughout their life." is absolutely ludicrous. We have managed without state intervention up until now, why do we need to resemble a former Soviet Blok country with state intervention and supervision in all areas of life, and in contravention of the European Conventions on Human rights?

  34. David Grant says:

    Ms Samson states: "GIRFEC is our job. It cannot be seen as something ‘additional’ to educating the child."
    Sorry, but that is just nonsense. Your job is inculcating knowledge into children, not basing your continuing career on a state-devised system that is designed to give people, who have no business interfering, a way into families' lives.
    There are already perfectly sufficient measures in place to protect vulnerable children. If social workers, or whoever is involved, fail to implement these measures, then deal with them appropriately. It is absolutely not necessary to create a massive database for all children. It is common knowledge that databases have frequently been shown to be unsafe when it comes to safeguarding the data. I have heard one described as 'a paedophile's address book' which is possibly over the top but they can not be regarded as secure.
    Of course we require to take care of children who are vulnerable. No-one quibbles with that. However, that is neither reason nor excuse for introducing this repugnant GIRFECery. As for education, let teachers get on with their job, which isTEACHING!

  35. M Craig says:

    GIRFEC has encouraged practitioners to act illegally by mining and sharing children and families' data without their informed consent. While 'services' have been forced on those who don't need or want them, support has still been sadly lacking for those who do, leaving the most vulnerable children at greater risk. We don't want a Named Person anywhere near our children (especially one who exhibits such "challenging" behaviour as above) and will never consent to any data processing by state snoopers. The *Assistant* Information Commissioner (whose boss is in England because the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act are UK wide) is frankly every bit as wrong as the Scottish Government in seeking to justify the unjustifiable. This is a shameful project of Orwellian proportions which is beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

  36. Ronnie says:

    GIRFEC is a bureaucratic nonsense dreamed up by people who have little concept of the precious and fragile nature of liberty.

    The giga-reams of data that it will generate will not come from nowhere, every last box will have to be ticked by someone who would be more gainfully employed concentrating their efforts on those who really need their help.
    The data will throw up false positives which will drown out the signals of those who are really in need.
    The false positives will be acted on and innocent parents who have lifestyles that don't fit the State's model of what is good will be marked out and harassed.
    This is Orwellian nightmare is coming to a Scottish home near you now.

  37. Sian Dawson says:

    I too am an educator and work in the sector. Yet I think GIRFEC is quite a scary notion being pushed by the government and being passed off as child protection. Child protection already exists and is a very necessary and valuable part of modern life. I am extremely uneasy about the named person system where every child seems to be defined by Scottish government as 'at risk' from birth simply because they are under five. A child under five is not invisible. They already have a named health visitor, a midwife at birth, a GP (usually) and often childminders/nursery staff and of course the general public. Perhaps the Scottish government would be far better at tightening up the processes surrounding child protection for those who actually need help rather than not trusting the majority of families to do a good job and as suggest by the 'named person' above not provide choices or chances. The majority of families do their upmost to provide choices and chances for their children and do not need someone interefering with their family dynamics and judging them when there ARE families who need input and will have money taken away from them with this new 'system' of information gathering without consent.

    • Engage for Education says:

      GIRFEC is already being implemented across Scotland and is showing positive results. Many practitioners working across education, health, justice and social work are already familiar with our GIRFEC practice guide which makes it very clear that: “most children and young people get all the help and support they need from their families, from teachers and health practitioners, and from their wider communities. But some may need extra help and that’s where the Named Person comes in.” (See our guide online at: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-Pe
      Far from suggesting that every child under five is “at risk”, the GIRFEC approach recognises that for most children, their parents or carers will always be the key adults who look after them. The GIRFEC approach is there to help them if and when they need it and the Named Person is there to co-ordinate that help.
      GIRFEC gives every child the right to appropriate support if they need it, regardless of their circumstances. It is impossible to say which children (or families) may at some stage need some extra support. That’s why the ‘e’ in GIRFEC stands for ‘every’ – and why we think it’s so important.
      The Named Person will always work closely with parents, children and young people. Their role will be to respond to concerns brought to them by parents, children or other professionals who know the child or family. They will be in a position to spot concerns early on, listen to worries from parents or children and find solutions before things can get more serious and damaging.
      If you are interested in what the Information Commissioner has to say about sharing concerns, please have a look at a letter from the Assistant Commissioner for Scotland: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-Pe
      To find out more about how GIRFEC is working in practice, this article, published in the Times Educational Supplement, may be helpful in allaying concerns: http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=62964

      • YourTypicalMother says:

        All this 'help' you are speaking of is something that is already available through the health visiting service and other sources, it isn't hard to go to a GP/midwife/schoolteacher etc for signposting to somewhere else. This 'help is not only unecessary in almost all cases but it comes at the expense of our families privacy and freedoms, at the expense of our trust in ourselves and trust from the government and community as parents. If it was about making it easier to get help then create a free hotline or something don't put EVERY parent in the country through 'parental capacity to provide wellbeing assessments' from the second they get pregnant and log every minute detail about anyone close to the child including pets! This is not help it is universal monitering of todays mothers and fathers! We need to go back to the days of trusting the people around us so that we are more connected as communities. Bring back the family GP not a bunch of childrens service providers with a part time social work role. This is just going to alienate many parents and therefore their children too. I for one will now be avoiding any contact with the GIRFEC lot where possible. so theres proof that it isn't helping for all of us is it?!