It’s good to talk about GIRFEC (and Jimmy Savile)

Further to our recent post on the Scottish Government’s Engage for Education website, in particular the first in a series of blog posts by members of the GIRFEC Programme Board, we were once again becoming concerned that some ‘engaging’ comments might have vanished into the ether as they were taking their time to clear moderation. We knew they had been submitted as the commenters had copied them elsewhere,  just in case.

However, all credit to the Scottish Government for allowing them to appear and for responding, albeit unconvincingly. As one of our members remarked on the online home education forums:

“Some of us had a few doubts about all this as there has been considerable delay in comments getting through moderation, however,as all the comments we know about are now visible, it would seem that this series of blogs will be a meaningful opportunity to ‘engage’ with the issues surrounding Girfec (Gathering information for Every Citizen). Here’s hoping the rest of the blog series will inspire further discussion.”

We agree wholeheartedly that it’s good to talk. Just by way of a wee reminder, the GIRFEC spin team claimed:

“We’re very clear this isn’t about the Scottish Government dictating to parents about how to raise children. Parents know their children best. This is about ensuring that if parents need support, they know where to go and feel reassured help is available.”

One long time observer of GIRFEC developments, who also happens to be a forum member, asserted otherwise (with supporting evidence):

“I’m sorry but this just isn’t true. Just one example of many: The child/ young person’s pathway (Lanarkshire)

“This resource is designed for practitioners (it is not seen as helpful for children and families) and should be displayed in a place where practitioners can use it to remind themselves how and when the core components are used in Lanarkshire.”

Amongst other things it includes a routine “parental assessment to provide well-being assessment”. Very reassuring for parents… The Lanarkshire Girfec team seem to have a particularly “direct” way of spelling things out, but however it is dressed up, Girfec, Gathering information for every citizen, involves the regular data rape of children, their families and associated adults.

Here’s how I put it a couple of years ago.

Just in case anyone thinks their family will be immune from all this, let’s go back to just a minor part of the vast amount of personal information the Scottish Government intends to gather on every child (or foetus), their family and associated adults, the SHANNARI assessment:

  • Safe: eg child protection, family of concern. Practical care ie home safety. Physical, social, emotional dangers ie bullying. Parental support concerns and identifiable risk factors ie parental drug and alcohol problems.
  • Healthy: eg vision, hearing, growth, immunisations, medical conditions, ie asthma, epilepsy, attention deficit disorder, developmental co-ordination disorder, genetic disorders, allergies, skin conditions, enuresis, encopresis.
  • Achieving: eg communication, language acquisition and expression, developmental milestones.
  • Nurtured: eg provides love, emotional warmth, attachment, play stimulation and encouragement, physical and emotional care and an educationally rich environment. Accessed parenting programmes, accesses healthcare appropriately.
  • Active: eg known physical disabilities. Receives stimulation and encouragement to learn; child able to access play and leisure activities.
  • Responsibility and respected: eg any prejudices and tensions, level of resilience, self-esteem, sense of identity, experienced loss/bereavement.
  • Included: eg support from family, community, child has friends. Appropriate attendance at playgroup/nursery.

Every child and family will be judged on these highly subjective areas whenever any professional is undertaking any sort of assessment. Look at the categories again carefully. Read it slowly…imagine the boxes being ticked or the ratings being given. How will your family fare?

What happens if your parenting style, vaccination choices, diet, income, family structure or accommodation differ from whatever the state-determined ideal happens to be? Should you pretend to conform (where possible) to preserve your way of life? Or risk ticking a few wrong boxes and find your family the subject of even more intrusive assessment and the appropriate intervention?

Did you accept that invitation for your child to have the swine flu vaccine? Should you own up to having lost granny and the guinea pig in the same week? Oh, and have you accessed parenting programmes?

You’ll be pleased to know that according to Triple P Parenting – the worldwide programme recently offered by Glasgow City Council to every parent – ‘Parenting now comes with an instruction manual’.

To summarise: early intervention is the latest cover story for surveillance, being pushed as the solution to our economic woes. Early intervention programmes identify those deemed at risk of not achieving government-defined outcomes. To do this and to inform future policy requires the collection of huge amounts of data: your data.”

[Click image to enlarge]

We would urge Every Citizen to visit the site, comment and pass on the information to others (who, thanks to Pinocchio PR and lazy journalists, may still be labouring under the misapprehension that this is about protecting vulnerable children) as we really need some informed debate about what is set to become the most fundamental shift in the relationship between citizen and state.

The proposed compulsory imposition of a Named Person (selected by the state) to gather, share and use (lose or abuse) the personal data of every child (and associated adult) to ‘enable and ensure’ that child’s ‘pathway’ according to the state’s preferred parenting template and towards the state’s desired homogenised outcomes will effectively drive a wedge between every child and his/her parent(s). There is no opt-out (although we would hazard a guess that there might be exceptions for the children of celebrities, politicians and the super-wealthy, as was the case with the discredited ContactPoint, because the system won’t be secure and can never be secured – just ask Gary McKinnon).

As one home educator commented, the Named Person may as well be called  ’Jimmy Savile’ because abuse of power is what GIRFEC is all about.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *