The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act establishes that all children and young people under the age of 18 in Scotland will have a named person. The named person will be a clear point of contact for children, young people and their parents when they require advice and support. Whilst most agree that this can be helpful to families many questions have been raised about how this will work in practice and the recent Supreme Court ruling will require changes to the legislation in relation to the sharing of information provisions of the Act. In this seminar Harla Octarra, PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh, and Lara Neri, Lead Officer, GIRFEC (Education) at East Lothian Council, will draw on their research and practice experience to consider some of the issues arising from the introduction of the named person.
Implementing the Named Person: Lessons from Practice
By Harla Sara Octarra
Interagency working is often prescribed as a way to overcome bureaucracy and delay in public services. In Scotland, ‘working together’ has been embraced as a way forward in the country’s reforms to children’s services, and my doctoral research explicated what interagency working in Scotland’s children services looked like in practice. In the wake of Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, my research put Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and the Named Person in the centre. Consistent with the reforms and GIRFEC, interagency working is also key to implementing the Named Person service, which provides a single point of contact for children and families and services when there is a concern for a child’s wellbeing. There is an assumption that the service will ensure existing approaches to interagency working will be more efficient. The single point of contact, a person, is thus expected to coordinate services and responses in order to ensure wellbeing concerns are addressed timely and appropriately. The person responsible for the role is a practitioner who sits within universal services; they are likely to be a health visitor or a head teacher. Drawing on ethnographic research in one local authority over a period of eight months, my presentation today answers why the introduction of the Named Person service appears to be problematic in practice. I present three reasons. First, implementing the Named Person is changing relationships, and therefore creating tensions, between professionals in their ways of working together. Second, for professionals who become the Named Person there are tensions between this role and their usual remit. Finally, the Named Person role brings extra bureaucratic work for those who take up the role.
Harla Sara Octarra is a PhD candidate in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh. She holds a Bachelor degree in Psychology and a Masters degree in Childhood Studies. Before undertaking postgraduate studies, she was involved in several research and training projects on different issues about children in her home country, Indonesia. Harla has co-written training manuals on children’s rights, child-friendly city, and HIV/AIDS prevention for the Indonesian Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection.
Implementing the named person in East Lothian Council
Lead Officer, GIRFEC (education) at East Lothian Council
The values and principles of GIRFEC are to be highly commended and in East Lothian, we have invested much time and effort in developing and exploring these across our schools. With the introduction of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the role of the Named Person, there has been a real opportunity to look at how effectively and consistently we are supporting our young people and how we can improve this. In East Lothian, we have spent time preparing staff for the role, focusing on “wellbeing” and remembering that this is central to our practice already and will continue to be so. I will speak of the journey that we have had in East Lothian with GIRFEC and the Named Person and explain how systems are changing to support high quality, consistent practice in our schools. I will also touch on how we are promoting the values and principles of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 not only in schools, but across agencies and with the general public, along with how we have tackled some of the negative press surrounding the role of the Named Person
Lara started her career as a French Teacher. She later become a Guidance Teacher, a role she fulfilled for eight years before taking up the role of Depute Head Teacher in pupil support at North Berwick High School. She is now seconded out to the role of Lead Officer, GIRFEC (Education), at East Lothian Council, with particular responsibility for implementing the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the role of the Named Person across East Lothian.