1.1 This is a report of the findings from a public consultation undertaken by the Scottish Government on draft statutory guidance for Parts 4, 5 and 18 (Section 96) of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. The draft guidance was published on 6 February 2015 and the consultation ran for three months, with a closing date of 1 May 2015.
1.2 The Scottish Government has a stated ambition of making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act) is a key part of the Scottish Government's strategy in taking forward this ambition. The Act is underpinned by a commitment to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and by the Scottish Government's GIRFEC (Getting It Right for Every Child) approach which provides a clear framework for policy in this area.
1.3 The Act is a wide-ranging piece of legislation which brings together measures related to different aspects of the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland. It is intended to support a continued shift towards prevention and early intervention in working with children and families and puts a number of key aspects of GIRFEC into statute across a range of policy areas to achieve an integrated, child-focused approach which will help deliver the best outcomes for all children.
1.4 The consultation invited views on draft guidance and accompanying Orders relating to the GIRFEC provisions of the Act, including the definition and assessment of 'wellbeing' and the provisions for a 'Named Person' service and a 'Child's Plan'.
1.5 The concept of 'wellbeing' is integral to GIRFEC and is based on eight wellbeing indicators (sometimes referred to as 'SHANARRI'). The Act requires the wellbeing of children and young people to be assessed against these indicators, and Section 96 provides for guidance to be issued on this.
1.6 The provisions for the Named Person and Child's Plan are key elements of the Act, with the relevant parts of the legislation due to be implemented in 2016. The approach to be adopted has been developed and tested over a number of years, starting with an initial Pathfinder project in Highland which aimed to establish a co-ordinated approach to assessment and planning in response to children's needs. This approach has also begun to be adopted in other areas, and the legislation and accompanying guidance are intended to ensure a level of consistency in practice as roll-out continues.
1.7 The guidance and accompanying Orders are aimed at those with statutory responsibility for implementing the provisions of the Act (senior leaders, managers and proprietors of organisations such as local authorities, schools and health services). Separate materials will be issued for practitioners, and for children and young people and their families.
1.8 The draft guidance and accompanying Orders on which the consultation was based were issued along with a consultation questionnaire. The questionnaire had 38 questions covering: the overall interpretation of the Act; wellbeing; and various aspects of the Named Person provisions including information sharing; and the arrangements for preparing and managing the Child's Plan. The questions mainly sought views about the clarity of the guidance, and most of the questions (34) had two components: a tick-box (closed) question, followed by an open question asking the respondent to explain their answer. The remaining four questions were open questions for free-text responses. In general, open questions invited respondents to say what they found helpful about the guidance and / or what they thought could be clearer.
Approach to the analysis
1.9 Frequency analysis was undertaken in relation to all the closed questions and the findings are shown in tables throughout this report. Comments made in response to open questions were analysed qualitatively to identify the main themes (i.e. parts of the guidance that were seen to be helpful and clear; areas requiring clarification; and any concerns raised by respondents).
1.10 Not all respondents answered all questions, and sometimes they made comments in relation to a question without ticking 'yes' or 'no'. In these cases, no attempt has been made to impute a response to the closed question on the basis of the comments made. The reason for this is that an initial analysis of the data showed that respondents who ticked 'yes' often made the same or very similar comments as respondents who ticked 'no'.
1.11 Respondents made many very detailed comments and suggestions in their responses. This report primarily focuses on high-level themes. However, the detailed comments have been collated, by question, and will be available to the Scottish Government to inform further development of the guidance.
Email: Richard Kaura