4 Overall Views
4.1 The purpose of the statutory guidance is to offer a clear interpretation of Parts 4, 5, and 18 (Section 96) of the Act to support implementation. As such, it is aimed at those with statutory responsibility for implementing the provisions of the Act. As well as addressing the detail of the draft guidance, the consultation sought views on whether this overall purpose was achieved.
Q1: Overall views on whether the draft guidance supports implementation
4.2 Question 1 asked: 'Overall, do you think that the draft guidance gives a clear interpretation of the Act to support organisations' implementation of the duties?' Table 4.1 shows that 55% of organisations and 2% of individuals agreed, while 45% of organisations and 98% of individuals disagreed.
Table 4.1: Question 1
|Partnership bodies and joint responses||9||(60%)||6||(40%)||15||(100%)|
|Other national public sector bodies||5||(100%)||0||(0%)||5||(100%)|
|Third sector organisations||15||(42%)||21||(58%)||36||(100%)|
|Other organisational respondents||3||(33%)||6||(67%)||9||(100%)|
* Two respondents ticked both 'yes' and 'no'. These responses are not included in the table.
Percentages do not all total 100% due to rounding.
4.3 Most of the organisations that would be directly involved in implementing the legislation (local authorities, health organisations, partnership bodies and other national bodies) agreed, while a majority of other types of organisations disagreed.
4.4 Altogether 144 respondents (109 organisations and 35 individuals) made comments at Question 1.
4.5 Question 1 was intended to give an overall view on whether the interpretation of the relevant sections of the Act would support implementation. However, respondents frequently provided comments on the legislation or guidance as a whole and the wider challenges related to implementation. Many of the 'cross-cutting' themes discussed previously in Chapter 3 of this report were raised at Question 1. Some respondents also used the opportunity to set out the background to their comments in relation to the more detailed questions which followed.
4.6 On balance, respondents thought that the draft guidance offered a reasonably clear interpretation of the Act for strategic purposes, which would support organisations in implementing their duties. In particular, the general introduction in Section 1 was clear and useful in summarising the principles and basis of the Act. However, these positive comments were frequently qualified and respondents often stated that the principles were not reflected consistently in the detail of the guidance, which could have implications for implementation.
Comments and concerns about the guidance
4.7 Irrespective of whether they ticked 'yes' or 'no' at Question 1, respondents often highlighted concerns or put forward suggestions as to how the guidance might be revised to better support implementation. The remainder of this chapter presents views from respondents more likely to have a statutory role in implementing the Act (local authorities, health organisations, partnership bodies and other national public bodies), before considering the views of other respondents.
Views of 'implementers'
4.8 While some in this group thought the guidance provided sufficient clarity to support implementation, respondents more commonly expressed a range of concerns about the guidance or about implementation of the Act more generally, and offered comments as follows:
- The guidance was too long, complicated and repetitive; it needed to be clearer, more concise and easier to navigate.
- Language and terminology needed to be used consistently.
- The guidance included a mix of strategic and practice guidance and this might usefully be separated out.
- The guidance should include more examples, diagrams and flow charts - there was a strong view that the statutory guidance needed to be accompanied by practice guidance (national, local or both).
4.9 There was a range of views about the degree of local flexibility which should be offered in the guidance. Although some were supportive of this and found it helpful, respondents more frequently expressed concern about this and favoured national approaches which would limit inconsistencies.
4.10 These same points were also raised across the individual questions, although the following chapters focus, as far as possible, on points specific to the individual questions.
4.11 Specific points on which respondents sought clarity to support implementation included: information sharing; the role of the Lead Professional; the interface with other systems, services, legislation and professions, including the links with the child protection system; and application of the guidance to specific groups. Dispute resolution procedures were noted as a particular omission.
4.12 There was also concern about the timescales for implementation and whether service providers would be ready, and the resource implications of delivering the service.
Views of third sector and other respondents
4.13 Many of the points noted above were echoed by third sector and other organisations (e.g. the view that the guidance was too long and complicated; the call for practice guidance; the wish to see more guidance about particular groups). Alongside these points, however, this group of respondents raised a number of wider points, including the following:
- The guidance needed to give more prominence to children's rights, and take a more asset-based approach with greater emphasis on working in partnership with families and children and young people.
- More work was needed to embed the principles of GIRFEC, preventative action and early intervention, and initiatives such as the 'Common Core'.
- The guidance needed to acknowledge the different local contexts (e.g. different service availability and configurations and how this might impact on equity of provision and outcomes for children and young people).
- Consistency of approach was particularly important for third sector and other organisations operating at a national level and dealing with a range of local authorities and health boards.
- The guidance needed to take more account of the role and contribution of the third sector in supporting children and families.
Views of individual respondents
4.14 Individuals largely used this question to voice their opposition to the Act. Those offering more detailed comments thought the guidance was complex and unclear and offered too much scope for local or individual discretion. There were calls for the guidance to be prefaced with a clear statement about the role of parents, and the right to 'opt out' from the Named Person service.
Email: Richard Kaura