8 Q16: Communicating information about the service
8.1 Section 8 of the draft guidance concerned the duty to provide information about the Named Person service, and covered the provision of: (i) information about the functions and operation of the service aimed at other organisations; and (ii) person-specific information about the service for children and young people and parents. The guidance relates to Part 4 (Section 24) of the Act.
8.2 Question 16 referred to Section 8 of the guidance and asked: 'Does the draft guidance make clear the requirements and expectations in relation to communicating information about the Named Person service and the Named Person?' Table 8.1 shows that 80% of organisations and 11% of individuals said 'yes', while 20% of organisations and 89% of individuals said 'no'.
Table 8.1: Question 16
|Partnership bodies and joint responses||13||(93%)||1||(7%)||14||(100%)|
|Other national public sector bodies||5||(100%)||0||(0%)||5||(100%)|
|Third sector organisations||11||(55%)||9||(45%)||20||(100%)|
|Other organisational respondents||4||(57%)||3||(43%)||7||(100%)|
* One respondent ticked both 'yes' and 'no'. This response is not included in the table.
Percentages do not all total 100% due to rounding.
8.3 Most organisations thought the expectations and requirements related to the communication of information were clear. However, views were more mixed among third sector and 'other' organisations.
8.4 Altogether, 81 respondents (66 organisations and 15 individuals) made comments. A number of respondents provided comments related to the communication of case-specific information. Such points are covered later in relation to Questions 18-22.
Aspects of the guidance respondents found helpful
8.5 Respondents sometimes made general positive comments about the guidance, stating that they found it clear or straightforward. The emphasis on providing information for different groups (e.g. children and young people and those with communication needs) was particularly welcomed. However, respondents also often went on to note specific concerns and offer suggestions as to how the guidance might be improved.
Aspects requiring additional guidance or clarification
8.6 Respondents generally welcomed references in the guidance to ensuring that communication was provided in different formats, but wished to see more detail on meeting the needs of different groups including: children of different ages, those with different literacy levels, those who did not have English as a first language, and those with communication difficulties.
8.7 Respondents called for additional guidance or clarification in relation to a number of more specific issues:
- Timescales for providing information during the ante-natal period (apparent anomalies in the main guidance and Appendix A were noted)
- Requirements for providing information on temporary cover arrangements
- The requirement to provide the name of the Named Person, particularly in relation to temporary cover arrangements
- Communication requirements relating to those no longer at school
- Requirements relating to communication at transition points.
8.8 In addition, respondents highlighted aspects of the guidance which they wished to see strengthened, e.g. at 8.1.9 and 8.1.10, regarding the meeting of timescales and the provision of written information, and information in different formats. Those representing speech and language therapists in particular were keen for strengthening of the guidance in this area.
Concerns with aspects of the guidance
8.9 Different respondents expressed concern with aspects of the guidance, including the following:
- Timescale: Some saw 10 days as being unnecessarily restrictive or as challenging to adhere to. Others thought that speedier provision of information was needed if the service was to be effective.
- The use of written information: Some respondents disagreed with the provision of written information as representing best practice, and wished to see more personal communication. Others argued that standard written information should be provided to all, including to those also requiring information in alternative formats.
Format and content of information
8.10 There were calls for clear descriptions of the content and format of communication aimed at different groups or for national formats or templates to be provided. Some respondents noted that they had already produced relevant materials, or were keen to advise on the production of materials. Other noted a range of issues which they felt should be covered in routine information for other services and professionals as well as children, young people and parents.
Wider concerns about the guidance
8.11 Some respondents raised more general issues and concerns related to service-level communication, as follows:
- The requirements were potentially burdensome, particularly given that most families would never need to contact the Named Person service.
- The introduction of the Named Person service should be accompanied by a national publicity campaign to help ensure engagement with the service.
- Further guidance was required to support effective communication and liaison with local third sector organisations.
Views of individual respondents
8.12 Comments from individual respondents tended to reinforce their more general concerns about the Act. Those offering more specific comments on service-level communication noted that:
- There needed to be a complaints / appeal process and information should be provided on this.
- It was incumbent on the government and other relevant agencies to fully inform families about the new service and to justify its introduction.
Email: Richard Kaura