GIRFEC Practice Development Panel: minutes March 2019

Minutes from the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) Practice Development Panel meeting on 21 March 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Ian Welsh, Alliance Scotland (Chair)
  • Mike Burns, Social Work Scotland
  • Ann Houston, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Chris Creegan, Scottish Commission for Learning Disability
  • Juliet Harris, Together Scotland 
  • Scottish Government officials


  • Norma Shippin, Central Legal Office, NHS National Services Scotland
  • Sally Ann Kelly, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Brian Johnston, Police Scotland
  • Susan Quinn, Educational Institute of Scotland
  • Jennifer King, Association of Directors of Education Scotland
  • Paul Martin, Independent Chair for Child and Adult Protection Committee's Scotland
  • Joanna Murphy, National Parent Forum of Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and update 

The Chair welcomed members and provided an update on recent developments including updates provided to the DFM. The letter to the DFM on the Panel’s emerging conclusions had been well received and DFM was keen for the Panel to undertake their targeted engagement. Following the letter on the Panel’s emerging conclusion the Chair had written an article in The Herald but otherwise there had been very little coverage.  

The Chair advised that the period of sustained engagement had concluded and that the key messages from that process were that people were largely supportive of the Panel’s conclusions and had little appetite for further legislation. There was, however, a strong call from practitioners for training and guidance.

The draft report had been shared with the Panel ahead of the meeting and the Chair advised that he had spoken to Panel members who were not present and they had expressed their support for the draft. It was noted that there may also be further comments from NHS National Services Scotland.

The final draft  report captures the journey travelled from initiation of the Panel and gives an overview of the issues. It was noted that it does not go into granular detail but all minutes are/will be published on the Panel’s website and full transparency will be given.

The Chair welcomed views from the Panel on the draft report and recommendations. It was noted that although Scottish Government are not obliged to accept the recommendations they are realistic and deliverable and reflect the messages received during  the engagement process. 

Members noted that the Chair’s voice comes through very clearly and demonstrates a clear, methodical statement of the Panel’s conclusions, giving a clear sense of independence. It also shows the complexity of landscape practitioners are operating within and reflects the evolving picture drawing strongly from the engagement with practitioners.

Other members supported the final draft report and welcomed the recognition that a statutory Code of Practice that must be applied in all situations is not the right thing to do at this time, which is brave, but noted that there will be disappointment from a number of agencies as they were awaiting clarity on these issues which they were hoping to receive from the Code and supporting guidance. It was expressed that this will need to be backed up from strong communications to ensure it lands well.

The Chair noted that the report signposts a way forward and it will be up to the Scottish Government to consider this suggested alternative pathway. Resources to support training, development and enhanced understanding will be crucial to develop confidence in information sharing.  

Members praised the report as a good document that sets out the journey well and articulates where we are.  He wants to ensure the report is clear that although a code of practice could be produced to support the legislation, it would not be desirable as the complexity of this would mean it would not be easy to understand or apply in practice. Also a statutory code of practice for information sharing is not necessary to deliver the GIRFEC approach under policy.

Another member commented on the framing of the report’s conclusion and stated that this could possibly be worded in a more positive way, around the fact that there is a better way to approach delivering GIRFEC, including the sharing of necessary relevant and proportionate information. The Chair advised that the remit was to produce a code of practice so we need to be clear and up front about the difficulties of that, however we could review the framing in the report. Members advised that the report could be  framed more around the delivery of GIRFEC and how we can best support a multi-agency approach and that promotion of the ethos of GIRFEC has to be prime driver.

Action: Chair to draft lines to reflect the points raised by the Panel and the report will be recirculated.

No2NP meeting: 1 March 2019

At the request of the Panel the Chair gave an update on engagement with the 'No to Named Person' campaign. It was noted that there was a constructive discussion about history of how we got here and wider policy context. The Chair had discussed the Panel process, talked about potential implications of Panel recommendations and spoke about challenges of vulnerable people and the desire to support  service user empowerment.

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