Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
If someone had set out to make a video demonstrating how the Named Person marginalises families, they could not have done a better job than this training video from Angus Council.
It’s designed to help professionals think about child’s planning meetings. If you have the stamina you can watch the 30 minute video in full but we’ve provided a few clips below.
No doubt the video deliberately portrays some bad practice, which professionals are meant to spot. But you can’t help feeling that it reveals more than the makers intended about the inherent problems of Named Persons.
It’s almost as if they want to show how awful the whole thing is.
In a room full of strangers talking GIRFEC and SHANARRI jargon, the Named Person thanks the mother for attending as if she’s just another agency. It seems mum has not been meeting national standards for parenting. But the professionals are too busy, too stressed, and too under-trained to do anything more than go over checklists.
Instead of getting help, mum gets a child’s plan meeting to make her more aware of her deficiencies.
The video is a dramatised meeting. It begins with a headteacher saying hello to all those in attendance. She is the child’s Named Person.
As we all know, the new law gives her power to speak to the child, including about very personal issues, and provide information or advice, and obtain and share confidential information on the family – all without requiring consent.
The headteacher refers to GIRFEC, Getting it Right for Every Child, a national policy.
Under the Named Person scheme, professionals are supposed to use GIRFEC to measure a child’s ‘wellbeing’. They do this by referring to eight SHANARRI ‘wellbeing’ indicators: “safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included”.
If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is. A child’s ‘wellbeing’ will be monitored using a whole range of strange graphics.
Guidance on implementing the scheme includes a ‘National Practice Model’, which has been drawn up using a series of diagrams called the ‘Wellbeing Wheel’, the ‘My World Triangle’ and the ‘Resilience Matrix’. In total, teachers and health visitors will need a working knowledge of 221 risk indicators and 308 ‘wellbeing’ indicators.
The headteacher/Named Person in the video is shown fumbling with a huge copy of the matrix.
According to the video, teachers could also be responsible for filling out new ‘wellbeing web’ forms, potentially for dozens of children, before passing them on to a Named Person.
People don’t like the Named Person scheme because it undermines parents. The video shows how alone the parent is in these situations. An array of professionals and practitioners, who are probably mostly complete strangers, are discussing the family’s very personal and private matters. It’s intimidating and humiliating. How difficult would it be for a parent to voice a different perception of the problem at one of these meetings? Or to say they don’t accept all of the concerns the practitioners have? Or even to refuse to consent?
Families are concerned that the Named Person scheme will lead to an invasion of their privacy, with data being passed from agency to agency.
This has been one of the biggest issues since the scheme was first announced. Notice how the mum’s mental health worker says: “A lot of the information is sensitive. I just can’t discuss it”. And then she proceeds to talk about it anyway.
‘How not to do it’
We all understand the challenges faced by councils trying to help families, both those who ask for help, and those who need it but won’t accept it.
But the Named Person scheme with its all-pervading SHANARRI indicators, is not the answer. This video shows why. It’s a ‘how not to do it’ video. But is it even possible to make a video that would make this whole cumbersome, jargon-ridden, patronising policy look or feel any better than this?