External management of residential child care establishments: national guidance

Guidance for those with external management responsibilities for any residential child care establishment, including childrens homes, secure care and some residential schools.


The external manager must have the skills, knowledge and experience to be:

  • A champion for residential child care.
  • An effective safeguard for children and young people.
  • A significant source of support to the 'person in charge'.

The external manager has been highlighted as key in the development of residential child care services and as a safeguard for children and young people living in residential care. This guidance clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the external manager building on the requirements already set out in regulations. The main tasks of the external manager were introduced in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 Regulations and Guidance, Volume 2: Children Looked After by Local Authorities(1997).

In Scotland there are a range of individuals, across diverse provider organisations, performing the individual role of 'external manager' for residential child care services, often as one part of a varied role. They are the person or group of people identified by providers as responsible for the work of residential child care establishments but not involved in full-time day-to-day management.

The National Residential Child Care Initiative ( NRCCI) set an ambitious agenda for residential child care and emphasised the importance of effective external management and governance. The review recommended greater clarity about the roles and responsibilities of external management should be set out in guidance.

This guidance draws on existing statutory requirements, research and the experiences of those currently in the role. It describes current positive practices, provides 'principles' and outlines the essential tasks and key responsibilities of the external manager.


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