Childless Parents

PINS member, Hazel Whitters, reflects on the difficult circumstances that surround the removal of several siblings from parents, and the ongoing needs and rights of both children and adults.

The topic of multiple removals is accompanied by intense emotion and a sense of failure mixed with success. The term describes circumstances which lead to several brothers and sisters in a family being adopted. The SHANARRI indicators support Professional’s decision-making in such circumstances. For birth-parents, however, there must be hope at every stage that changes can be made and the removal of children averted. Such circumstances are difficult, but we must champion the rights of the child.

All human beings have rights. Rights contribute to our understanding of ourselves, and our roles in the world. Rights grant us freedom of choice. Rights allow us to be all we can be. Children in the 21st century have a right to experience childhood within a birth-family culture, but society has the responsibility to assess and decide if the circumstances fulfil the child’s human right to achieve potential – the human right to enjoy life’s journey.

Research by NSPCC (2016) shows that 60,000 UK children were recorded on the child protection register, or had a child protection plan in 2013.  In Scotland in 2015, 2,700 children were on the child protection register. Statistics tell us that children who experience a childhood in the care-system are four times more likely to have mental health difficulties, and seven times more likely to have behavioural issues than their peers.

Practitioners are well aware of the inter-generational cycle of families who are involved with services, time and time again. Today’s support mechanisms are multiple, and child protection is everyone’s responsibility – health, education, social work, voluntary sector, housing, police, and local community embrace vulnerable families. The Family Nurse Partnership, New Orleans Model, Mellow Parenting, Solihull Approach, Positive Parenting Programme, and the therapeutic relationship are approaches used throughout the country by professionals who are determined to make an impact upon the cycle of deprivation. We want parents to succeed, but we have to action the rights of the child, and we have to recognise and accept that every mother and father cannot achieve active parenting within their child’s formative years.

Colin Morrison reflected upon the work of PINS in a previous blog. He identified the driving force as needs and rights, and describes a practitioner’s “burden of responsibility.” But empathy and compassion have always been in abundance in the third sector. We are vocational workers and responsive caring is what we do best, and this liberates practitioners to recognise that there are several vulnerable human beings in a context of multiple removals: the child, and the childless parents. The mother and father whose child has been adopted still require our help, in a different category of need, as vulnerable adults.


Hazel G. Whitters

Senior Early Years/Child Protection Coordinator in a Glasgow Voluntary Service.

#EduGovRev

Now that the Ministerial engagement events have drawn to a close (with the final session in Dunoon yesterday, December 5th), it’s worth thinking about both the formal text of the current Education Governance Review, as well as the messages and tone from the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, and Scottish Government officials at the events.

The Engagement events have shown that the intent of the Review is to encourage real reflection on the principles and practices of the Scottish education system. However, the heavy going language of the Review document does present somewhat of a barrier to those stakeholders for whom changes will be most felt – children and young people. In the series of events – a catch up of which can be found through twitter’s #edgovrev – conversations about practitioner’s experience of Scottish education are indeed full and broad. There seems to be a general agreement that the education system does well in serving a lot of learners, but for those whom barriers exist it is not nearly good enough. If we can cut through the formality of the Review consultation questions, we really can get to the nub of the changes we need to make. At the Edinburgh session I recently attended, the focus needed was identified as being on the child’s experience of school and learning, from 3 to 18.

Excellence and equity matter – but we need to engage children, young people and communities in what these concepts mean to them. So when we think of excellence and equity, we need to ask questions like:

Why do some children struggle at school?
What would an excellent school be like?
What would a school be like if everyone had the same opportunities – and no-one was left behind?

On the Pupil Inclusion Network site there are links to various bits of information about the Education Governance Review – http://pinscotland.org/theme-education-review.html. Yes, there are 17 formal questions asked, but you don’t need to answer them all! And in those questions, there are issues that children, young people, parents and carers need to express their views on.


Colin Morrison
PINS Co-ordinator

PINS launches a new blog series with a bit of reflection of our own.

PINS is 10 years old. From the beginning the Network has been about encouraging practitioners to pause, reflect and question; helping the sector rise to the challenge of working together to address inequality and improve educational outcomes. We launch this new PINS Blog with a bit of reflection of our own.

PINS emerged from the Review of Guidance Provision in Schools in 2005. An aspect of the review aimed to find out what children, parents and voluntary sector agencies thought of the support available in school[1]. When it came to relecting on how agencies were working together, one contributor summed up the challenges: They are not working together well enough to keep every pupil on the school roll. Many pupils are lost to special school or non-attendance.

The Scottish Executive team in the Pupil Inclusion Unit recognised that this disconnect between schools and external agencies wasn’t just a practice issue; it was also a concern up-the-line, reflected in the relationship between Government and voluntary sector providers in the development of policy and guidance. The challenge was, what could be done to help create opportunities to inform and engage thus giving 3rd sector agencies and practitioners recognition and influence? Government colleagues initiated discussion and with the possibilities offered by the virtual world it was decided a new online community might help address some of the gaps.

As it is now, PINS remains committed to being a hub for information and dialogue about what we [our networked community of approximately 1300 members] do and what we need to do better to support children and young people with learning, both in and out of school. PINS is not about campaigning or representing, but we are driven by the necessity to make our education system more concerned with the needs and rights of children, young people and communities. If the mantra is about equality and equity, then the burden of responsibility for changing practice is on we professionals and the organisations we work for.

At 10 years old PINS is still a conversation about collaboration. At a PINS seminar[2] in 2006 Professor Chris Huxham reminded participants that “It is only sensible to collaborate if real collaborative advantage can be envisaged.” At the same seminar delegates made the point that collaborative working is difficult. Knowing this, PINS continues to bring together 3rd sector practitioners, teachers, colleagues from NHS, Police, Universities and Colleges, Local Authorities and Scottish Government; because by understanding each others positions and sharing solutions we contribute to making a difference.


Do you have a practice issue, policy insight, something to celebrate, or a bugbear that a PINS blog can highlight? Get in touch with info@pinscotland.org


[1] Support in School: The Views of Harder to Reach Groups http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2005/02/20692/52505

[2] Working Together for Scotland’s Children: How do we get partnership right? http://pinscotland.org/pins-reports-working-together.html

Education Governance Review

The Education Governance Review is about how education is run in Scotland.

If you are working with children and young people in any capacity, you can have your say as part of the Review. You can also help others to take part and give their views; including children and young people, parents and carers.

The Review is interested in some big issues and challenges and there are a number of questions posed by the Review. You don’t have to have an opinion on them all, but many are of huge importance to the children, young people, families and communities that PINS Members work with. Questions like:

  • What services and support should be delivered by schools?
  • How can children, parents, communities, employers, colleges, universities and others play a stronger role in school life? What actions should be taken to support this?
  • How can the governance arrangements support more community-led early learning and childcare provision?
  • How can effective collaboration amongst teachers and practitioners be further encouraged and incentivised?
  • How could the accountability arrangements for education be improved?

Visit the PINS Education Review page to find out more about how you can have your say:
http://www.pinscotland.org/theme-education-review.html