2 Motivations and Expectations in Attending the Training
The Importance of Corporate Parenting
2.1 All the qualitative respondents acknowledged the importance of corporate parenting and felt it is important for Elected Members (EMs), council staff and staff within partnership organisations to have a clear understanding of their role as corporate parents, what this entails and the issues likely to be facing looked after children. While the training was aimed primarily at EMs, one council employee commented,
"We expanded our training session to Community Planning Partners as well as Elected Members because we felt the corporate parenting was more than just about the councillors being trained. It's everyone's responsibility and we wanted to bring in partners who had never been trained in corporate parenting. We wanted to raise awareness amongst our partners that it's equally their responsibility as well."
2.2 From the discussions to date, it would appear that it is important for there to be a clear lead from the Chief Executive's office to encourage attendance at corporate parenting training sessions. Respondents in each participating local authority noted their councils place importance on corporate parenting. That said, attendance at some of the training sessions was lower than originally expected. One respondent commented that corporate parenting reaches across all departments of their authority, as well as having support from their Convenor. This means corporate parenting has a Council-wide agenda.
2.3 There were some comments during the discussions that the small numbers of Elected Members and staff attending training sessions suggest that a significant number of individuals placed less importance than is ideal on their role as corporate parents. However, one respondent, who had commented on the relatively low numbers of EMs attending the training sessions they had run, felt this was attributable to 'training fatigue' rather than a lack of interest in corporate parenting itself. They noted that EMs have a lot of calls on their time and may often have to make choices about which meetings to attend.
Motivations to attend the training
2.4 All the EMs who attended a training session chose to do so because corporate parenting was an area they were interested or involved in; for example, involvement in the social work committee or the education committee. They wanted to keep up to date with any information about looked after children, obtain ideas about good practice and what is being implemented (and works) elsewhere. They felt they should learn all they could about corporate parenting and looked after children.
2.5 Some respondents in Dumfries & Galloway commented that the training session was not very well attended. They were aware that all EMs had been invited to attend but only a small number turned up on the day. Those who did attend felt it should be compulsory for all EMs to attend a training course like this, within a few months of being elected.
2.6 Council staff and staff from partnership organisations had mixed reasons for attending the Who Cares? Scotland training. Some attended because of a desire to gain information on corporate parenting and their role in providing corporate parenting to looked after children in their area. Some other staff attended primarily because they had been involved in the set-up of the training, and / or were there to help answer any questions and / or give a presentation on the day.
Expectations from the training
2.7 Across all those attending, previous knowledge of corporate parenting and issues relating to looked after children varied. Most of the EMs and a small number of council staff and community partners had little or no knowledge of this group. Some of the council staff and community partners already worked with looked after children and had a relatively good understanding of the issues they face. Some of the non-EMs did not expect to learn much on the day as the training was targeted primarily at EMs.
2.8 There were some comments that there should be separate training for EMs and for other staff: "I think for Elected Members it should be at a separate session, because our responsibilities are different from staff."
2.9 While numbers attending may have been lower than expected, the qualitative findings show that some of the council staff and community partners came along to the day expecting to learn something that could be shared with colleagues. Those who attended because they had been involved in the set-up of the training, and / or were there to help answer any questions and / or give a presentation on the day generally felt their existing awareness and understanding had been reinforced, rather than extending their knowledge of corporate parenting.
In summary, there is widespread acknowledgement of the importance of corporate parenting and for Elected Members, council staff and others to have a clear understanding of their role as corporate parents. That said, in some areas, a significant number of Elected Members have not yet undergone this training.
There is a need for a clear lead from the Chief Executive's Office to encourage attendance at training sessions. There were some calls for compulsory attendance for all Elected Members.
By and large, the Elected Members and other individuals who attended this training, did so because of an interest or involvement in Looked After Children; although some respondents attended because of an involvement in the training.
For individuals with some prior knowledge in this area, the training reinforced learning. Those attending with little or no prior knowledge, felt they had learnt a lot.
Email: Alison Melville
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