GIRFEC Practice Development Panel: minutes April 2018

Minutes from the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Practice Development Panel meeting on 24 April 2018.

Attendees and apologies

  • Annette Holliday, Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visiting Association
  • Joanna Murphy, National Parent Forum Scotland
  • Lorna Greene, Royal College of Nursing
  • Norman Conway, Police Scotland
  • Maureen Falconer, Information Commissioner’s Office
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Chris Creegan, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
  • Peter Hessett, Society of Local Authority Lawyers and Administrators in Scotland
  • Norma Shippin, Central Legal Office, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Alan Small, Vice Chair of Child Protection Committees Scotland on behalf of Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Maria Galli, Observer to the Board of Together Scotland, on behalf of Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Michael Chalmers, Director For Children and Families, Scottish Government


  • Professor Paul Martin, University of West Scotland
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland
  • Mike Burns, Social Work Scotland
  • Sally-Ann Kelly, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Jennifer King, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Eddie Docherty, Scottish Executive Nursing Directors

Items and actions

The Chair welcomed members and introduced those who have joined meeting for the first time. Members agreed minutes from previous meeting.

Statutory Guidance Framework

Chair introduced Maria Galli, Child Protection Officer from South Ayrshire Council in her capacity as a members of the Statutory Guidance Framework Group to provide an overview of the group’s report. She explained to members that group have longstanding expertise and continue to be committed to the GIRFEC policy.

The group were in consensus of what should be included in the Statutory Guidance, which also included highlighting the essential need for awareness of children’s rights. She stated that the group’s view was that the statutory guidance should be aimed at leaders and managers in organisations affected to ensure they were clear on how to comply with the law however as far as possible this should be written in way that is accessible to practitioners, parents, children and young people. Additional practice guidance for practitioners and materials for the public will be required to make the law fully accessible.

Ms Galli informed the Panel that the Group recommends the production of Interim Guidance to be issued to all those with duties under Parts 4, 5 and 18 (Sec 96) of the Act to ensure those working in the system are clear about their roles, responsibilities and current procedures while the Bill completes its passage through parliament.

The second recommendation from the Group recommends that accessible information is made available to help children, young people and families to understand the core elements of Parts 4, 5 and 18 in a variety of formats in advance of the commencement of Parts 4 and 5. Ms Galli explained that the Group also recommends that a plan is put in place to ensure all eventualities are prepared for in advance relating to the passage of the Information Sharing Bill and potential ways forward.

Members asked about the recommendation that training materials not be centrally administered. Ms Galli explained that a training programme would be developed centrally to maintain consistency across the country, and that training would be delivered locally. Ms Galli suggested that the Statutory Guidance Framework Group would be willing to continue developing the guidance to achieve consistency and support delivery of practice.

The Chair thanks Ms Galli and concluded this topic of discussion by reflecting the importance of feedback from representative groups and core service providers on the content of practice materials and to maintain a working relationship with the Statutory Guidance Framework Group. He stated it is important to develop a Code which fits into the guidance.

ACTION: Alice Bayles, GIRFEC Policy Team Leader to be invited to the Panel meeting in June to provide an overview of the current understanding around existing good practice that could inform the development of wider guidance for Parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

ACTION: Officials to scope how far the Statutory Guidance and other resources could be developed by using existing practice materials and expertise from stakeholders by September.

Testing and Engagement

Members discussed whether an information campaign highlighting current good practice in terms of the GIRFEC approach would help to mitigate confusion and reinforce confidence amongst practitioners and families before an authoritative draft Code of Practice is presented to the Education and Skills Committee, or not.

The Chair concluded this topic reflecting that an engagement plan will be drafted and the Panel agreed that a draft Code of Practice for testing with stakeholders should be developed ahead of engagements if possible. He stated that communications and interim guidance would be welcomed to dispel confusion. He supported the use of social media and connecting with groups who practice the GIRFEC approach and stated that the more we can build the links to existing groups the more we can build on positive messaging.

He informed the Panel that he will be providing the Deputy First Minister with an update on progress to date in the near future.

Members were asked for details of opportunities for engagement with current groups and if they could help with the engagement process. Members provided a range of groups and networks in which a draft Code could be tested and feedback could be provided such as the Parenting Task Force suggested by Chris Creegan SCLD, SSTA suggested by the Chair , expert reference group of health visitors and nurses suggested by Lorna Greene RCN, data controllers suggested by Maureen Falconer ICO and Child Protection Committee event suggested by Alan Small CPCS.

ACTION: Chair asked officials to work out what a draft communications plan for the next meeting for panel to consider.

ACTION: Members offered to provide information on other groups and networks which could be included into the engagement programme. Officials to liaise with members on these details.

ACTION: Maureen Falconer to introduce officials to the Information Governance leads as a potential group to test the draft Code.

Code of Practice for Information Sharing – Drafting

Norma Shippin summarised the last Legal Group meeting, including the three potential draft components of the Code.

Members were asked for their views on draft components. Members discussed the risks associated with having a legally binding flowchart, namely, that missing a step could result in a breach of the law. Some members felt that a non-binding flowchart would however be very helpful and requested that this could be enhanced as a decision making tool with additional focus on human rights, and a wider focus on the wellbeing of the child, rather than child protection. Members from a practitioner perspective welcomed a more detailed flowchart explicitly covering consent, clarity on who they should seek advice from when sharing information and clear information on decision making at a wellbeing level.

Susan Quinn provided constructive feedback and suggestions for drafting the Code. She stated that the language needs to be made more accessible and the addition of a glossary would help practitioners to understand any abbreviations. She stated that draft Code assumes knowledge of UNCHR and that it would be helpful if specific rights could be made clear. She supported the use of non-binding flowcharts and believed practitioners would find useful.

Members highlighted that the Data Controller/service providers have the responsibility for providing the correct conditions for practitioners to make decisions about information sharing and they will be responsible and accountable for the legal implications of decisions made.. It was noted that the practitioner should not be responsible for the legal aspects of decisions made, nor should they have to work out what the appropriate legal basis is for processing data under data protection legislation. The liability ultimately sits with the service providers and not the individual practitioners. As such the Panel agreed that the primary audience for the Code was the Named Person service providers and responsible authorities, as the data controllers.

Members discussed and agreed that a logical approach at this point was to draft a high level introduction to the Code, and a detailed Code supported by non-binding flowcharts. Members suggested that the Code would be aimed at organisations and data controller level as the primary audiences, and also undertake additional work to use more accessible language for all audiences. It was further suggested that additional materials including the non-binding flowcharts. the Statutory Guidance and training materials aimed at front line staff, and also be of use to rights holders.

Members suggested that the National Guidance on child protection was a good example of helpful and accessible guidance for practitioners. Members welcomed an approach of a draft Code with interim guidance detailing responsibilities in particular rather than complete Statutory Guidance. Members suggested that there is good practice in this format already and suggested reviewing guidance issued by Aberdeenshire.

The Chair acknowledged comments and views from members on the draft Code approaches. It was concluded that the use of flowcharts would be a useful way forward as part of the suite of guidance materials. The Chair suggested that a draft Code would use a layered approach that includes a high level introduction, more accessible language throughout and content that addresses the Supreme Court judgment, feedback from practitioners, and evidence given to the Education and Skills Committee.

He concluded by suggesting to members that seeking feedback from practitioners and consideration of the evidence submitted to the Education and Skills Committee would help steer the development of a user friendly Code and support materials.

ACTION: Officials, with input from the Legal Focus Group to develop a draft Code ahead of the next Panel using a layered approach

ACTION: Officials, with input from the Legal Focus Group to consider developing non-binding flowcharts that could be used to support practitioners and rights holders understand information sharing.



Post: GIRFEC Practice Development Panel
c/o Scottish Government
Children and Families Directorate
Victoria Quay

Telephone: 0300 244 4000 (0300 numbers are geographically neutral)

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