Image: Early Years Collaborative 

The SHANARRI worshipping bash of the year was held in Glasgow last week in the form of Children in Scotland’s annual conference 2015 [#CISAC2015] with a traditionally colonic titleGamechangers: Transforming our children’s sector.

It’s no wonder George, Zippy and Bungle were so excited as they made their way out of the sock drawer to help their ‘Named Person’ Geoffrey share the Scottish Government’s creatively crafted 10 Facts about the Named Person, while studiously avoiding any mention of these rather more persuasive 11 Reasons to Say NO to the Named Person Scheme. They hadn’t had an outing since the Every Child Matters DCSF rainbow was ditched by the DfE in England back in 2010, so they were only too pleased to stage a comeback and regale delegates with tales of the tempting pot of gold that awaits collaborators at the end of the GIRFEC rainbow.

10 facts about Rainbow

Readers will note that the two day conference was run in partnership with Social Work Scotland, whose president Alistair Gaw doesn’t care much for parents (and the feeling is mutual if you look at the comments),  and Glasgow City Council, whose officials (including the named person allocated to “support” home educating families) despise us with a vengeance (and some very dodgy grammar).

As the umbrella body for “more than 500 voluntary, statutory and professional organisations and individuals working with children, young people and their families in Scotland”, the benefits of Children in Scotland membership are said to include “discounts on training, events and publications, invites <sic> to exclusive events, access to briefings and reports and more!” If you just can’t wait to join ChinS, here’s the link, but you can only use it if you are employed in one of the approved “sectors”, since parents are unable to progress their application as “individuals” working without pay in the independent families sector. We were sad enough to try, only to find being a parent declared as an “illegal choice”. We obviously don’t speak the new “shared language” of Newspeak, and no translation services appeared to be available.

Now we know where we stand!

But back to the colonic irritation of #CISAC2015 …

For those of us who have been wading through the same treacle for the past 30 years, the two day programme resembled that old New Labour rallying call of “education, education, education”, modernised and re-purposed by the Curriculum for Excellence (in compliance) as “outcome, outcome, outcome” via “intervention, intervention, intervention”. There’s no doubt, however, that it would have appealed to the emerging “I Spy” generation of service providers, whose outcome-based incomes essentially depend on the mining of clients’ data, with or without consent.

By way of an important explanatory aside, here is Tony Blair in full flow back in 2006 explaining the alleged “benefits” of universal state surveillance to ensure state dictated outcome (starting in the womb). A decade on and we have Teresa May and Aileen “Also” Campbell doing their level best to flog the same old snake oil in a variety of fascist flavours. It’s Brave New Labour, Conservative, SNP, Green, Liberal Democrat all rolled into one, where civil liberties have been sacrificed on the altar of early intervention (whose shiny policy packaging disguises its true eugenicist agenda). Over to Tone and note the Hughie Green level of sincerity…

 

In all fairness to ChinS, they made a half-hearted effort to demonstrate their hipster credentials this year by inviting a token, free thinking social worker – the vice chair of BASW and former chair of the Scottish Child Law Centre, no less – to go head-to-head with the well heeled charity’s chief executive on the thorny topic of GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme, which is just a kilted version of the UK Government’s snoopers’ charter. In a session billed as A dangerous liaison? When ‘Getting it right for every child’ met child protection’, Maggie Mellon was to speak in favour of, and Jackie Brock against the motion, that “The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 has introduced a right of the state to regulate family life and we are in danger of creating a surveillance rather than a support service for children and families.”

Holyrood Magazine got quite excited about it, asking rhetorically Is Scotland any closer to becoming the  best place for children to grow  up? But even they couldn’t get the terminology “right”.

It has been two-and-a-half years since the Scottish Government introduced the Children and Young People Bill, a year-and-a-half since it received Royal Assent. And, yet, part four of the Act, which cements a single point of contact – a midwife, health visitor or teacher – to look out for a child’s welfare, remains mired in controversy less than a year out from its implementation.

So, who spotted their use of “welfare” when it should have been “wellbeing”? A deliberate conflation, or just sloppy journalism? Either way, it is dangerously misleading and disguises the fact that the threshold for intervention in family life has been all but abolished in order to permit state snoopers to monitor and persecute those who do not meet their given “wellbehaving” outcomes.

The article continues

“If the government was sensible, they would announce a delay in the implementation and just let it die off,” says Maggie Mellon, vice-chair of the British Association of Social Workers. Mellon’s objections are three-fold: she deems there to be no evidence to support the measure; the threshold for intervention is “lowered significantly”; and the legislation itself clashes with what proponents of the provision declare its intent to be.

before going on to quote Jackie Brock, who (surprise surprise) used to work for the government as a highly paid wellbeing wonk.

“There has been a lot of mischief made because of people’s political and cultural antipathy towards what they call state intervention – what I would call good universal services,” says Brock. As it stands, the range of silos within children’s services that parents and children must navigate are “ineffective, inadequate and can actually lead to damage”, she adds.

As we pointed out on our forums, the new shared language of Newspeak disparages what were once  respected and respectable discrete professions by referring to them as “silos”.

Let’s hope Maggie Mellon​ reminds Jackie Brock in their upcoming head to head debate that the latter’s use of the Newspeak term “silos” refers to what we boring old farts would describe as discrete “professions”, which once upon a time required specific training to reach the required level of competence in, and certification for, given roles, e.g. teaching, midwifery, nursing, social work. In Ms Brock’s brave new single silo world, where SHANARRI wheel spinning is the only qualification needed, poor quality or downright dangerous decisions will be made by those without relevant qualifications or assessment skills.

Since we couldn’t afford £275 a pop to go and cheer Maggie on, we had to turn to Twitter to find out who “won” the debate. No prizes for guessing (sorry, we don’t have any taxpayers’ money to fritter on freebies).

We observed that the outcome was “hardly surprising when ‘voters’ are paid vested interests” and that “victims of #girfec #datateft have a different view  #NO2NP”.

Jackie was even asked by a sympathiser how to make a forced march sound like a voluntary forced march to what is a pre-programmed, state dictated destination.

In common with his fellow rainbow worshippers, one tweeter had a different perception of the Named Person problem from that of parents, as well as the meaning of the word “support”.

Before losing the will to live, we tweeted back our own perception of their problem, in keeping with the pantomime style of the event.

And the answer was (here’s a final colon for you): no response. Not even from George, Zippy or Bungle. Maybe it’s because it’s the weekend and the Serviceland sock drawer is shut.

Parents undoubtedly prefer Maggie’s version and will be putting plenty of spokes in the SHANARRI wheel.