For Scotland’s Children – next steps

We’ve been working on a paper which explores the next steps we need to take to fulfil our obligations set out in For Scotland’s Children 2001.

The first part of that exploration is an appreciative inquiry perspective on the Integration Team.

I found it really helpful to adopt this type of thinking as opposed to focussing on any negative aspects.

INTEGRATION TEAMS – AN APPRECIATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Over the last six years the Integration Team has had a significant impact upon how East Lothian meets the needs of vulnerable young people. In almost every community the Team can identify key successes which include: 

  • improvements in multi-agency working;
  • support for vulnerable children and their families;
  • development of inclusive strategies;
  • positive examples of integrated pupil support systems;
  • improved pupil attainment;
  • improved pupil attendance;
  • reductions in exclusions;
  • improved outcomes for Looked After and Accommodated Children
  • successful joint training; and
  • consistent implementation of the Staged Assessment and Intervention process. 

Such has been the success of some of these developments that the Integration Team has often been perceived as an entity in its own right, with responsibility for children being “passed” to them by various agencies such as schools and health, as opposed to fulfilling the role of integrating Children’s Services and Education, where responsibility for children’s welfare is seen as shared commitment. Such a perception runs counter to the growing shared commitment by chief officers towards integrated services.  

In addition to the need to challenge the notion of the Integration Team being a separate entity there are other compelling reasons for us to develop a model which builds upon our successes, these reasons include: 

  • the mainstreaming of Changing Children’s Services Fund (CCSF);
  • the development of Integrated Pupil Support Teams in our schools;
  • the continuing evolution of our Inclusion and Equality Team;
  • closer working between education and children’s services;
  • the need to further develop a focus and locus for self evaluation;
  • the need to make efficient and targeted use of all of the resources allocated to work with disadvantaged children 

In order to develop and build upon our continuum of service to support vulnerable children and their families there is logic in developing sustainable local multi agency area teams built around our six distinct communities, or clusters of schools. 

The cluster approach, which was   approved by the Education Committee in September 2006, outlines a way of working which could also underpin the development of our continuum of service involving all agencies with a commitment to improving children’s lives through the principles of consistency; continuity; collegiality, creativity, and collective responsibility. 

Our challenge is to find a way to build upon the best examples of practice in East Lothian which depend upon true integrated working between partner agencies. 

If you have any suggestions about how we might do this please feel free to leave a comment.