Thursday, 23 June 2016

Social worker of 40 years fails to notice the difference between the role of social worker and Named Person

Colin Turbett, a retired social worker, has written in CommonSpace in favour of the Named Person scheme. Perhaps, because of his forty years experience in this field he presents a grim view of ordinary family life. Beginning his account by recalling an isolated community in Newfoundland he tells how social work services began targeting the area with state interventions, using frontline staff in schools and health settings, to root out the sexual abuse that had been going on in poor families for generations. That`s the story.

It is difficult to understand why he would confuse a serious child abuse matter in an isolated region in Canada - which he sees as a class issue - with what is going to be happening in Scotland regarding the Named Person service. It is as if he is suggesting that behind many closed doors in poor homes there lurks similar dark secrets. That is grotesquely insulting. Even so, Scotland already has its own child social work service, and teachers and health visitors already have a responsibility to look out for signs of abuse. So far, no different, and no need for a Named Person.

At this stage, Mr Turbett has failed to make a case for the Named Person which, after all, is a service to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person.

Mr Turbett then recalls Paula, who at four years old, had been pushed down the stairs by her father causing her face to be permanently disfigured. Because of this and her difficult background, she grew up lacking confidence, left school to be jobless at sixteen and was pregnant at seventeen. With a referral from the midwife, there followed a social work assessment which judged Paula to be lacking the basic skills required to take care of her baby. The child was then removed at birth.
"We offered her as much support as we could this even involved taking her out and purchasing underwear something her mum had never done as she grew up and she had never experienced herself, and trying hard to improve her sense of self worth."
I cannot imagine a set of circumstances less likely to inspire confidence or a sense of self worth in a young woman.

The point Mr Turbett is making, of course, is that had there been earlier intervention in Paula`s life, things may have turned out differently. But that is impossible to know. What we can infer is that action was taken in the life of this seventeen  year old girl, instigated by the midwife - a potential Named Person - and the only intervention on offer was forced adoption, which is no support at all. That actually means there is a good case to be made for putting resources where they are needed, that is with the Paula`s of this world, rather than with a universal system that most people do not need.

The rest of the article is a disjointed mish mash about the inequalities created by capitalism and neoliberalism that does nothing to illuminate the role of the Named Person or why anybody should support it.
"Capitalism and its inequalities create such circumstances and state interventions are needed all too often in Scotland’s poorer communities. This is certainly a class issue and one where state intrusion into family life should take place in order to look after the most vulnerable."
Confusingly, he goes on to say: 
"NP will no doubt focus on working class people for obvious reasons but it should also pick up on the less visible middle class child victims who are largely absent from social work caseloads."

 Like many supporters of the Named Person schemeColin Turbett, despite his experience of forty years, fails to acknowledge that the role of social workers and Named Persons are different. [One wonders if he ever got around to reading the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014] The former is set up to rescue children from abuse, whereas the latter - to put it in a nutshell - is a tool to monitor the `happiness` of all children.

As for Named Persons and their potential to intrude at an early stage, the workforce itself is worried about the extra responsibilities.
"We are becoming social workers and the named person role will add responsibility and stress to experienced health visitors and probably greater stress to newly qualified health visitors. The amount of information that will be passed to health visitors will be like an avalanche. Education has already been told that the health visitors are the named person and are passing information which isn't health issues on a regular basis. The assessments which will be linked to the named person will be time consuming and complex at a time when core business is increasing with a computer system which isn't fit for purpose."

Like all supporters of the Named Person scheme, the data grab that underlines the legislation is never mentioned.

Nobody explains it better than Alison Preuss. See her `must read` article in TES below:

John Swinney`s astonishing performance at Holyrood while dodging answering a legitimate question.

1 comment:

  1. David Scott mentioned Colin Turbett`s article on UK Column News recently: `Let`s make the Named Person scheme work - a radical social work view.

    "He`s defending the Named Person," says Scott. "He says we need a huge increase in resources to make this work. .. It will work; it will be fine, because this is all part of the radical agenda - and by radical he means, of course, communism and he cites a communist leader, a Russian Bolshevik feminist called Alexandra Kollontai. Now she argued that the state had to take over the upbringing of children and he was quoting this woman in support of the Named Person scheme."

    Here`s another quote:

    "The Russian Bolshevik and feminist Alexandra Kollontai argued in the 1920s for the socialisation of parenting in order to release women from the burden of caring (and work) that capitalist society places upon them. She assumed that end would come through the development of communism..."

    "The worker-mother must learn not to differentiate between yours and mine; she must remember that there are only our children, the children of Russia`s communist workers."

    Read more at:

    It reminds me too of Hillary Clinton`s view that `it takes a village`to bring up a child.