Stirling ranked top in the UK for Social Work

29 April 2016

The University of Stirling has risen eight places in the Complete University Guide league table and has been ranked top in the UK for Social Work in the 2017 rankings. The University has now moved to 39 in the overall table, the institution's highest ranking since 2009.

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Family networks can be a critical resource in social work response to ‘violent extremism’

Community Care | 27 April 2016

By Tony Stanley and Lisa Gunstone

‘Radicalisation risk’ is an emerging practice issue confronting social workers, families, communities and local authorities. Alongside child sexual exploitation and children reported ‘missing’ from home and care, these new areas of social work are mostly issues external to parental care and the family home, so we need fresh ideas to inform our social work offer.

We think, however, that ‘radicalisation risk’ is a misleading term – and a simplistic use of language. It writes in particular narratives about vulnerability, risk, and blame while erasing others. Simplistic language will encourage unsophisticated options for practice.

If we define this in traditional ‘child abuse’ terms, we have a ready-made victim and ready-made perpetrator, or (and more likely) a set of scary unknowns, that we quickly set out to eliminate to resolve. But what happens to our social work relationships when we are in a hurry? Working with uncertainty is a practice reality, while not always a comfortable place; are we too keen to get to ‘safe certainty’?

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BBC and Google in online child safety initiative

The Guardian | 27 April 2016

The BBC and Google have joined forces with internet service providers on an initiative to promote online safety for children.  

The two organisations have become the first official partners of Internet Matters, which was set up two years ago by BT, Sky, Virgin and TalkTalk to teach parents and children about issues such as cyberbullying and protecting privacy. Google and the BBC already run their own internet safety programmes, but Internet Matters claims their support recognises the importance of a collaborative approach.

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Agenda: Matt Forde of the NSPCC on protecting children

Herald Scotland | 27 April 2016

Scottish Government funding for centres for research and specialist expertise on child protection have made headlines in recent weeks. The argument boiled down to where existing government funding ought to be allocated. But NSPCC Scotland believes the argument should be wider and that the impact and cost of child abuse and neglect demands an increased level of research investment and a much higher level of activity than we currently plan.

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Warnings that children at risk as local turf wars see cuts to drug services

26 April 2016

Deep cuts to work to tackle addiction is leaving children and families at risk, according to charities who warn national policies are being undermined. A 22 per cent cut by the Scottish government to the funding of local alcohol and drug partnerships (ADPs) was meant to be mitigated by health boards replacing the lost funds. But some health boards have been reluctant to do so and critics say vulnerable people are losing out in the resulting turf wars.

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Pioneering mentor project gets new backing

The Herald | 25 April 2016

A MAJOR project which seeks to help disadvantaged young people reach their potential in life has joined forces with one of Scotland's biggest companies. MCR Pathways provides adult mentors for children who have experience of the care system, and is forming a partnership with housing and care provider The Wheatley Group. The company is the latest to sign up to encourage staff to become mentors, joining businesses and public bodies such as Glasgow Life, Strathclyde University, Santander, Glasgow Kelvin College, the SECC and Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

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UK to take in three thousand vulnerable child refugees

The Herald | 21 April 2016

BRITAIN is to take in up to 3,000 vulnerable child refugees over the next four years in addition to its commitment to accommodate as many as 20,000 asylum seekers from Syria, the UK Government has announced.

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'Prevent' anti-radicalisation strategy being rolled out by councils

BBC News | 20 April 2016

Councils in the north east Scotland have begun rolling out the UK government's anti-radicalisation strategy 'Prevent'. Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray councils will be training staff - such as teachers and social workers - to spot signs that children or members of the public may be being radicalised. It is in a bid to prevent them committing or supporting terrorism.

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£220,000 funding for care experienced young people

The Scotsman | 20 April 2016

DUMFRIES and Galloway’s care experienced young people are to have a bigger say in the decisions that affect their lives thanks to a funding boost of £220,000. The money will be used to support Dumfries and Galloway’s local ‘Champions Board’.  

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Equally Safe - April Bulletin

19 April 2016

Equally Safe sets out Scotland's strategy to take action on all forms of violence against women and girls. 

April News Bulletin

Scotland is tying one hand behind its - and children’s - backs by waiting too late to address gaps

Holyrood Magazine | 19 April 2016

The BBC documentary on closing Scotland’s education attainment gap, Educating Sir Tom, underscored the high priority of this issue. Underneath all the ‘argy bargy’ among politicians in the run-up to this May’s Scottish election, there is extraordinary agreement among political parties on the importance of closing the gap in educational attainment. They are fiercely competing for votes by offering alternative strategies about how to accomplish this shared goal – and how to pay for it. But Scotland’s leaders are united in their heartfelt vows to ‘do something’ to close the gap in school success. Study after study, year after year, document this inequality that is beleaguering Scottish children.

For example, our nation’s internationally respected ‘Growing Up in Scotland’ research identifies that even before children enter primary school (indeed, prior to starting pre-school) there are already stunningly large, and growing, differences in their cognitive development and emotional and social wellbeing. It is right for Scotland not only to acknowledge this problem, but also to commit serious attention and resources to solving it. We should take pride in living in a nation where closing this gap is very high on the ‘to do’ list across parties – and where the political debate is about how, not whether, to take effective action.

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Recruitment of Executive Member - National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers

18 April 2016

NOTA (the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abusers) is a charity and professional association that supports those working in the field of sexual abuse and violence prevention. Operating throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland, NOTA comprises approximately 1200 professional members who are engaged in work to prevent and address sexual abuse and sexual offending.

The Scottish branch is supported by a very active executive group that helps co-ordinate six events for practitioners each year (including a two day annual conference) and is involved with influencing activities that promote evidence based policy and practice in sexual abuse prevention.

NOTA is currently looking to recruit an executive member who would help ensure the activities of the branch are responsive to the needs of practitioners working in child protection settings. The position is unpaid but travel expenses can be reinbursed. Responsibilities would include attending four executive meetings in Stirling each year. The member would need to be either a current member of NOTA or willing to join the organisation.

If you are interested in applying for this position or would like to informally discuss this further, please contact the NOTA Scotland chair, Stuart Allardyce ( by 31st May 2016

Researchers Hightlight Need For Greater Collaboration To Improve Protection Of Vulnerable

18 April 2016

Inter-agency education and increased collaborative working across Scotland are key points in a new report by a team of Interprofessional Education experts from Aberdeen. Led by Dr Sundari Joseph from Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) School of Nursing and Midwifery, the team shared their findings at the Scottish Parliament earlier this year as part of a public protection awareness event.

The study titled - ‘Interagency adult support and protection practice of police and social care professionals: a realistic evaluation approach’ – is also available online. Dr Joseph, who was the Principal Investigator for the research project, said: “My interest in this topic area stems from a career in nursing and health visiting and over 20 years of experience in education and research in Aberdeen. “I have been passionate about interprofessional and inter-agency working to ensure that people have the best possible outcomes. My quest for reducing harm and protecting vulnerable people were very real to me in my HV role and enhancing collaborative working practices amongst different professionals has always been something I have strived for.”

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Evelyn Gillan Impact Prize

18 April 2016

Have you used research to make a difference for children, families or personal relationships? If so we would like to invite you to apply for the Evelyn Gillan Impact Prize and attend the final day of the CRFR international conference on the 15th June 2016.

CRFR are proud to be awarding a Prize for families and relationships research that has influenced the lives of children, families, or households, in memory of our late colleague Evelyn Gillan (1959-2015). The prize is supported by the Scottish Government. Evelyn completed a PhD CASE studentship at CRFR looking at how family voluntary organisations influence the policy process. She was well known for her policy influencing work before and after this, particularly the hard hitting Zero Tolerance campaign about domestic abuse, and her work to improve Scotland's relationship with alcohol. Evelyn was a passionate advocate that policy-making should be based on the best available evidence, and used evidence highly effectively in her campaigning work. For example, she picked up on the CRFR and Childline partnership research, and used children's voices in the campaign for effective alcohol reduction policies in Scotland.  

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New website for SCRA

18 April 2016

SCRA has launched its new corporate website. You can visit the new site here. The newlook site still has dedicated sections for children, young people, parents/carers. It also has a more interactive contact us section with pages for each SCRA office. You can also sign up to our e-news bulletin via the new site. 

If you have any questions about the website, please contact a member of the Press and Communications Team on

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Cutting Child Abuse Expertise Could Be A False Economy

The Herald | 14 April 2016

It isn't obvious why there is a need for WithScotland. The agency, which has just seen its funding terminated by the Scottish Government is a centre of expertise in child protection, providing advice and support to people working to combat abuse and neglect. Many may agree with the online commenter who said it seeemed "more like a career opportunity than actually solving the problem" in response, when I wrote about the cut. To understand why WithScotland was necessary, you need to have trawled through the reports of numerous serious case reviews (SCRs) following the failure to protect a child. Or to have been at the press conferences where another social services chief is forced to apologise for missed chances to intervene. You have to recognise the repetitiveness of the phrases: Communication failures; inexperienced frontline workers; warnings from members of the public overlooked; need for more training.

Such problems have cropped up time with each report hoping to be the last of its kind. The setting up of a centre of excellence to help advise and guide those working in this sensitive area was an explicit recommendation of the 2005 Western Isles child abuse inquiry. Scotland's Social Work Inspection Agency concluded three young girls had been horrifically abused over lengthy periods. But as well as child protection errors made during the case, the investigation carried out by police and soicial workers was fatally flawed and noone was ever prosecuted. The agency which became WithScotland was a direct response to this. Is there a reason why it is no longer needed now? That is the key question from Donald Urquhart, former chair of Glasgow's Child Protection Committee, who doubts the sense behind cutting Government funding from the agency. The Scottish Government appears to intend that another agency will now provide the same support.

It commissioned research last year into three 'centres for excellence' which work in varied ways to help troubled children. WithScotland, based at the University of Stirling and the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice and the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland, both based at the University of Strathclyde. It may be that this review, carried out by respected childcare expert Romy Langeland concluded WithScotland was not value for money. But it has never been published.   Supporters of WithScotland point out that neither of the other agencies reviewed have the same expertise. 

WithScotland has helped establish consistent standards for serious case reviews based on the 'no blame' approach used to improve safety in the aviation industry. With an increased focus on the protection of vulnerable adults - another area in which WithScotland offered expertise - the ongoing Getting it Right for Every Child (Girfec) agenda, and especially the new Named Persons coming into effect in August, a case can be made that With Scotland is needed more than ever. 

The Scottish Government says named persons will still have access to expert advice. Critics of the Government's decision can't be accused of being ill-informed. One of WithScotland's key achievements has been setting up a national community of expertise. It is members of that community who are now raising the alarm about the effect the loss of funding will have.

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Cutting funding for child protection centre of excellence 'could jeopardise' named persons

The Herald | 13 April 2016

THE controversial 'state guardian' scheme is facing a crisis before it has even begun after an advice centre designed to guide those monitoring Scottish children was threatened with closure. From 31 August of this year, a "named person" will be appointed to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland. But experts claim moves to slash funding for a centre of child protection expertise would "cut the feet" from under the contentious named persons scheme. Fears have been raised that WithScotland, which would be help advise named persons such as teachers, midwives or health visitors, will be forced to close if the Scottish Government withdraw £150,000 of annual funding.

WithScotland provides a national repository for research and experience in child protection investigations and setting it up was one of the key recommendations of the 2005 failed investigation into child abuse in the Western Isles. Donald Urquhart, former chair of Glasgow's Child Protection Committee, said in a letter to the Scottish Government's director for children's rights and wellbeing that the planned funding cut "flies in the face of logic".  He said: "The loss of WithScotland would be a seriously retrograde step and leave Named Persons, who now have been given frontline child protection responsibilities, without a valuable and unique source of support information or advice." 

With an increasing emphasis on the importance of named persons in picking up serious child protection concerns means they will need independent advice and support from experts in the field, he said. "The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 provisions in respect of the named person is costing many millions that councils and health boards just don't have so where are the named persons going to get the advice, information and support that they need?" 

He said the child protection community included senior figures in social work, health and education, many of whom were calling for a meeting with the Scottish Government to discuss the funding cut, and is calling for ministers to reconsider.

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Lack of support took emotional toll on social workers in child sexual exploitation case

Community Care | 08 April 2016

Social workers trying to protect children in a high-profile sexual exploitation case did so at “immense personal and emotional cost”, a serious case review has found.

The serious case review into Operation Brooke, a large investigation into child sexual exploitation in Bristol that saw 13 men convicted for child sexual exploitation offences against six young people, said professional boundaries between professionals and children became “blurred” because of a lack of adequate supervision.

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Best ways to implement corporate parenting duties

CELCIS | 08 April 2016

CELCIS have published lots of new and exciting corporate parenting resources, marking one year since the official enactment of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

  • Find out more about the idea of corporate parenting and get to grips with the duties - visit our spotlight on corporate parenting: what’s it all about.
  • Explore all the info and insights you need to help make corporate parenting duties a reality - visit our spotlight on implementing corporate parenting duties
  • Read the lively new blog from our team member Lizzie Morton, to find out how corporate parents are taking ownership of their role. Together we can all help improve the wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers.

If you haven’t already, remember to sign up to the Scottish Care Leavers Covenant to do your bit in giving care leavers the bright and better future they deserve!  

Keeping it Personal: Improving person-centred care

IRISS | 08 April 2016

The People Powered Health and Wellbeing Programme (PPHW), delivered by the Health and Social Care ALLIANCE Scotland is contributing towards the Scottish Government’s ambition to create a safe, effective and person-centred health and social care system. Each of the PPHW programme partners explored different facets of the PPHW aim. The Iriss project – Keeping It Personal (KiP) – explored the use of person-centred approaches when designing improvements to the delivery of health and social care services.

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Lack of professional assertiveness a factor in case where child died, review finds

Community Care | 07 April 2016

A lack of professional assertiveness in the face of high workloads and obstructive parents was a factor in agencies’ failure to protect a 10-day-old child who died, a serious case review has found.

The review into how agencies in Manchester worked to protect B1, a child who died after being laid on by their father, found that social workers had not been “sufficiently assertive” in pursuing contact with B1’s older siblings after the parents sought to stop services from talking to them alone.

The parents were unwilling to engage in services for fear of having their children removed into care.

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Half of school children "routinely" see sex and violence online

06 April 2016

HALF of school children have admitted to seeing sexual, violent and other adult material on social media sites, apps and games, a new survey shows. A study by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also found 78 per cent of pupils had joined social media sites before reaching the minimum age of 13. The findings are revealed in the latest update of the Net Aware guide, produced by the NSPCC in partnership with telecommunications company O2. NSPCC and O2 asked 1,725 children and young people and over 500 parents to review and rate the most popular social networking sites and apps.

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Iriss and the Care Inspectorate explore risk and innovation

04 April 2016

In 2015, Iriss launched a joint project with the Care Inspectorate to explore strategic innovation, resilience and risk in the context of the Care Inspectorate’s mandate of scrutiny and improvement. The project has comprised of an internal staff survey with 108 responses, two workshops with 18 staff members, and has sought to engage the wider Care Inspectorate workforce through the findings.

The project team has put together a blog post which details the work to date and next steps. Phase 2 of the project is currently being designed and developed for 2016-17.

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Promoting Inclusion and Participation

Talking Mats | 04 April 2016

As part of the Right to Speak initiative Talking Mats was funded to develop ‘Promoting Inclusion and Participation’: an online learning resource for staff working with children and young people who use Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC). 

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New harm and abuse booklets published by AEA Scotland

04 April 2016

AEA Scotland has recently published two new booklets in partnership with Age Scotland. ‘Keeping safe from harm and abuse’ is a helpful guide for older people on the different types of harm and abuse, tips on protecting yourself and, information on what older people can do it they are experiencing harm, abuse or neglect. The second booklet ‘Are you worried an older person is being harmed or abused?’ will be useful for anyone concerned about an older person, and includes information on spotting the signs of abuse, helping people understand why an older person might be reluctant to speak up, and what they can do to help.  

Are you worried an older person is being harmed or abused?   

Keeping safe from harm and abuse

Corporate parenting: what it's all about

04 April 2016

A responsibility to improve the futures of looked after children and young people

Part 9 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 outlines a range of duties for corporate parents across Scotland. These duties aim to ensure the attention and resources of corporate parents are focused on the task of safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of Scotland's looked after children and care leavers. The duties came into effect on 1 April 2015. This means corporate parents should listen to the needs, fears and wishes of children and young people, and be proactive and determined in their collective efforts to address these.  

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