Monday, 24 June 2013


You're probably thinking this is a made-up word - it isn't - it stands for Getting It Right For Every Child. This is the Scottish Government's answer to child protection and safety going forward and its incredibly stupid, completely unwieldy and devoid entirely of anything approaching the merest sensation of common sense.

Here's a quick digest of what it means:

Basically there will be a 'named person' (a teacher or guidance councillor most probably) for every child, it is said this person will not have to do anything beyond what they already do except record information about the child in-line with something called the National Practice Model. So what's that then? 

Its this:

OK, so I've lost the will to live. I've skimmed over the picture and I've seen it before. Its bad enough - patronising enough even -  to have this in the work place, like we all live in a perfect little bubble where policies and directives can be applied in a uniform manner across the board. But to apply such a thing to real life and to a kid?

Even this random baby thinks its laughable.
GIRFEC will, (in theory) facilitate a more uniform collection of information about the child's development, the idea being, any risks to that development can be identified early and targeted for some sort of positive intervention. There will be a database (isn't there always?) that social services, the NHS and education managers among others will be able to access, the truth is, access is a bit vague - its not clear who would have access - the police? What about other council departments or commercial enterprises buying data - councils are strapped for cash after all...

I could go on about the ten core components and the set of values and principles that underpin GIRFEC but I've seen that before too. No government or civil service project, strategy or scheme exists without values and principles, in fact, if the managers in charge feel the need to include any - then you know its a waste of time and the main motivation of the exercise is the maintenance of the people who are being paid to deliver it.

Which brings us to the next problem: social work. I have some experience with social work, a fair bit as it happens. Never have I ever come across a more ineffectual occupation. If you require assistance beyond the simplest thing (organisation of a care package) then don't contact them. Social work isn't about protecting vulnerable people (adults or kids,) its about protecting Social Workers. Its not entirely the social worker's fault, they've just lost sight of their own purpose - they've been criticised so often that social work managers are now more concerned with covering the occupation's back than protecting vulnerable groups. In my own experience, after months of honesty - I had to lie through my teeth to get rid of them. It would have been less stressful to shoot the problem-person in the face then sit through my own murder trial - probably quicker too.

Suffice to say, when it comes to supporting vulnerable young people and adults, I'm a firm believer in the flexibility of community & family as opposed to the rigid framework of social work, local council authority or government.

Which is why GIRFEC is such a terrible idea, it is intrusive, unnecessary and ripe for abuse itself. It is a response to a tiny number of terrible incidents where children fell through the cracks in the system. Instead of tightening up existing practice, they formed a committee and came up with this dog's dinner. They argue that by monitoring all children they can catch any potential escapees, in fact, they'll spend so much time collating info about ordinary families - they'll end up on so many wild goose chases started by the over-zealous jobsworths these programs inevitably attract - they'll miss the very kids they're trying to protect.

I work with young folk in a voluntary capacity (I've also worked in a paid capacity through Social Work and Education & Community Services,) the idea of 'monitoring' or 'observing' then applying my findings to a 'Resilience Matrix' if things go beyond GIRFEC's daft idea of the Circle of Life; where you have to decide whether the kid is a Successful Learner, a Confident Individual, an Effective Contributor or a  Responsible Citizen. If I think they're not, the last thing I'm going to do is report it to my local authority - heck - I'd run a mile before that even crossed my mind.

I'm not sure I know a child who ticks all those boxes, more-over, if I did - I wouldn't think they were normal (and I wouldn't tell anyone that either.) I don't want to live in a society where kids are little robots, its their differences that make them who and what they are. I definitely don't want to live in a country where our kids are spied on and notes are taken behind their back for inclusion in yet another giant database which I have no doubt will end up fulfilling purposes outwith that which was envisaged on its inception.

I've already signed this petition, obviously its entirely up to you whether you do the same, I should warn you though, if you don't...

I'm not above shameless emotive jingoism.

You will most probably be haunted by the face of this sad baby crying because you deserted him (or her, its another random one so I don't really know.) Most probably, in the future this random baby will not be a Confident Individual or an Effective Contributor forcing their Named Person to consult the Resilience Matrix. 

And it'll be YOUR FAULT.


  1. I would want to ensure that kids are looked after safely and, to that end, that people who come into contact with kids, from their grandparents and other relatives, through their teachers and youth club leaders, to their friends' parents and parents' friends take an interest in the wellbeing of the child.

    Too often we've heard that people noticed bruises, or heard crying, or noticed withdrawal, but never did anything because it wasn't their business.

    In my work I've seen little children, under school age, wandering around alone because their parents were drunk or high and unaware of what they were doing.

    But why oh why do they have to do these illustrations with arrows all over the place that no one understands, except very officious, politically correct females, who appear to think that all men are monsters, and who demand that we don't have a brainstorming session because it might offend epileptics and suggest that we should have a thought shower instead!

    The sad fact is I suppose that we do need someone to oversee the welfare of kids, like the wee ad in Dundee who was killed by his mother's latest drug addicted boyfriend, while she was out "earning" for him.

    Neighbours heard the wee kid crying and screaming but didn't do anything.

    But frankly all that bollox about matrices and that, makes the whole thing a shut down area as far as most people are concerned... once again except for these politically correct people living in their politically correct bubble. And frankly I'd not want one of my kids anywhere near them.

  2. Excellent post, thank you for highlighting the dangers of this sinister scheme. Families are already suffering unwanted and unwarranted interference just going about their lawful business (see last comment here Meanwhile, for the truly vulnerable children, you just can't get (or retain) the social workers these days. I write as one who did child protection work many years ago and GIRFEC is a complete disaster already happening.

  3. You're welcome M Craig, its all just a wee bit creepy.

    Added to what Tris highlights in terms of the graphics so obviously vomited up by some over-paid daft 'consultant' - its a waste of time and not a little over simplified so completely patronising.

    Instead of girfec, we need to some how re-invigorate the idea of community so people don't feel like they can't step up if any one needs a wee bit help or where there is a child safety concern.

    Its all been pulled into the realm of the so-called professionals where before it was seen as common sense. In a way, I think people just don't feel qualified any more to help and in a sense, are happy to abdicate responsibility.

  4. Read the comment linked by M Craig, Its worth repeating (I hope the author doesn't mind.)


    Sunday June 23, 2013, 09:29

    A couple of days ago, my son was picked up by the police on the way to picking up our morning newspaper from the village shop. He was doing nothing wrong. He has excellent road sense, he is sensible and, crucially, old enough to go to the shops on his own. But with no good reason the police lifted him. They are now submitting a "Vulnerable Person's Report" - apparently compulsory whenever they deal with a child - which will be submitted to the Social Work Dept of my local authority. I am hoping the social workers will laugh it off as a gross over-reaction on the part of the police officers, but they may not. Whatever happens, this VPR can now be passed to hundreds, if not thousands, of people through GIRFEC provisions. I am told there is nothing I can do to have the report deleted, although I am checking that. This the power GIRFEC commands, and allows - to both state officials and busybodies. My child, who was doing nothing wrong, now has a report about him flying around the system. All for popping to the village shop. Anybody who thinks that GIRFEC is not about state control of every single child in the country, and of creating a surveillance state needs to consider that your child could be reported, as a vulnerable person, to social work, for going about her or his legal life."

    Which is the point I was making about these Named People, where is the standard exactly? It'll be down to the person's judgement and no two views will be the same. I work with kids and what I think is appropriate could end up getting me into a lot of trouble just because someone else (who doesn't work with kids) takes a different view.

    It is as they say, a slippery slope.

  5. Haha this was written brilliantly, shows just the kind of nonsense that girfec really is. I hope you don't mind me sharing this on my fb <3 Kayley

  6. Excellent post which deserves a wide audience :) Hope as many people as possible circulate it.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?