Category Archives: News

Separation and Reunion Forum 15th Annual Conference, London

So that we can put the date in our diaries, Dr Elaine Arnold the Director of the Separation and Reunion Forum  has written to give us advance notice of the forum’s 15th annual conference “Maltreatment of Children and the Effects on their Attachments”  which will be held on  Friday 28th. November 2015 at the London Voluntary Resource Centre356 Holloway Road, London N7 6PA.

More details about the conference will appear on this page in the very near future. Visit the Serefo website at



Join the SIRCC Scottish referendum Child Care debate here


On September 1st, 2014,  the latest issue of the Scottish Journal of  Residential Child Care , edited by Laura Steckley on behalf of the Scottish Institute for Residential  Child Care invited Garry Coutts (against independence for Scotland)  and Mark Smith (for independence) each to provide an article expressing their views about the potential impact on child care in Scotland should the Scots vote to become independent on September 18th, 2014. Each author was also given an opportunity to write a riposte to each other’s original article The format of the Scottish Journal does not allow for immediate readers’  comments and the goodenoughcaring website has offered  a place for comment in response to these articles on its home page.
Which ever way the vote goes there is no doubt child care issues will remain of consequence but  there is also   – given how imminent the referendum day is   – an immediacy about these  issues and people may wish to comment and to ask others to consider and weigh up views and opinions right now.
To read Garry’s and Mark’s articles and their ripostes visit

To comment or join in discussion click on Comments on the banner line at the top of this page and email us.
Comments will be published on this page as we receive them.
Garry Coutts  is  Chair, NHS Highland, Assynt  House, Beechwood Park, Inverness, IV2 3 BW

Dr Mark Smith Senior Lecturer and Head of Social Work in the School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

The Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care is now a part of CELCIS, the Centre for Excellence for the Care for Looked After Children in Scotland.



Charles Sharpe writes

Read Mark Smith’s article “How would social care be different in an independent Scotland?” published in The Guardian on 17th September, 2014. Link to article

From Jonathan Stanley

More thoughts on Scottish independence and English Residential Child Care.

That the Government has chosen to see Residential Child Care as an island is a block to integrated practice. This is one shadow cast but it provides openings too. It allows us to see the distinctive contribution residential options can bring to young people’s lives, individually and collectively, and as part of children’s services.

We will be able to make that progress when we are able to go beyond the current worry over a future for the sector. Even being corralled into a corner has its benefits for the sector. Through our identification as a concern for the fate of the group there has been a ‘gathering of the clans’.

We have been forwarding the ambition for a wider nuanced discussion on the appreciation that we need sophistication not simplification, sadly the Government reforms are small tweaks and follow from the latter. You get positive children’s homes in positive children’s services. What happens in children’s homes is a correlation of many factors within but crucially surrounding them. A supportive context for homes comes with a supportive response for all children. Perhaps the fact that in most cases we use children’s homes as a last resort is more obvious elsewhere in the lives of children too? This would suggest that the sequential use of interventions is widespread, leading to hierarchical thresholds to access the next step. This would suggest we do not make the right placement at the right time for the right child but other factors intervene. It would suggest that the ‘most appropriate’ placement principle is not being held. It would suggest we are needs-led in our response to children. It suggests we are a long way, maybe drifting steadily further away, from making the right placement first time.

English discussions have not recently addressed the ‘good society.’ However in any impending separation this often becomes the topic uppermost in minds. What are the values we desire for children’s services? The ADCS position paper ‘What is care for?’ [1] is more a command paper than an exploration. It is at odds to the values seen as the foundation for children’s homes in the future written by ICHA and TCRU[2] and agreed with by the DfE in their response to the Education Select Committee [3]. If they are at odds they ought not to be. A strong culture[4] demands that we are all on-task, no off-task or anti-task behaviour needs talking out. That the discussions all too easily are reduced to territorial claims and counter claims. Such ‘boundary skirmishing’ perhaps shows us there is something needing discussing? Our children’s services culture is variable, not in a reflective way, but prone to defences and resistances. Despair is not uncommon if you are at the bottom of the pile. Positively connoting this one could say that resilience has been demonstrated, not much Hope when suffocating and the shortage of breath looking like it will continue.

We have to get beyond the binary position. Splitting is a defence whereby our good/bad feelings can be projected into another person or group who become idealised or hated. So such ‘winners and losers’ perspectives might stem from the dread of being ‘found out’? Reports like Alexis Jay’s on Rotherham propel us to confront our Present.

In a set of scales developed by psychologists Jon Haight and others, moral values tap preferences for minimising harms/maximising fairness (often termed ‘individualising’), and concerns over group norms and rules (often termed ‘binding’). Graeme Brown and Gary Lewis used these to study some data exploring how psychological factors might predict Scottish independence sentiment. They found stronger moral sentiment for valuing individual rights and less concern for group norms appear to drive preferences for independence. Maybe this holds for Government thinking about children’s services?

Residential Child Care in England has nothing to lose by speaking out on the need for ethical values in to underpin child care/social work practices. It has been placed in a position where it can offer many pertinent observations.

The small voice is often the one we need to hear loudest.



[3] p5




Sandra Brown comments

I don’t know what the future holds for children in Scotland if it becomes independent, but I see that this debate was set up by the SIRCC which is concerned with residential child care. I know something about residential child care and my experience is that it is excellent when it is provided by people who really care about you and pretty awful when the care workers just see it as a job. So what Evelyn Daniel and Jonathan Stanley write makes the future look bleak. Will residential child care in an independent Scotland be better as Mark Smith says or is it all about money as Evelyn Daniel and Jonathan Stanley are saying ?  if it is just about money I think the whole existence of residential care needs to be questioned. If it is just a money saving exercise to deal with young people who are difficult to place in foster care then it will never work.


Charles Sharpe writes

I am sure Garry Coutts wants better care, education and health services for children and their families in Scotland but his dismissive approach to the referendum, (and therefore to 50% of the Scottish electorate), along with the dearth in his writing of ideas and proposals for the future of Scotland and its children suggests a smug contentment with the status quo. Yet here was I thinking that even the most ardently unionist argument must concede that the United Kingdom’s current political and economic system is failing to change the prospects of children from very poor and not so well off families and indeed it is making their situation worse.

In fact I am saddened how little Garry actually mentions children and families. He seems much happier submerged in the politico/ bureaucratic language that is a smokescreen hiding a void.

Mark Smith,  does spend time writing about children and families as if they are real people and I think he is right to ask us to consider Scotland’s culture and history as an inspiration for the way we would want all our children nurtured.

Scotland has always been ready to learn from, and seek  inspiration from, child care and education approaches in Europe and further afield.  Adding to this mix original and creative practitioners, writers and thinkers in the field of childhood, education, nurture and relationships like, for instance, John Aikenhead, Jane Arthur, John Burnside,  W.R.D. Fairbairn, James Kelman, R.F Mackenzie R.D.Laing, John MacMurray, Anne Mathams, Isobel Menzies Lyth, A.S. Neill, Aunty Phylis of the Aberlour Child Care Trust, Flora Stevenson, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Iain Suttie, it can be seen that the large group of talented individuals currently working in different fields with children and families in Scotland have an abundance of historical and cultural sources and resources upon which to draw to sustain their already strong sense and passion for democracy and community.

As Mark implies, the Scots took Europe’s first steps towards local democracy (and I am not taking a sectarian stance here) when, from the early 18th century, the congregation of the church of each parish through its presbytery voted in its minister who in turn was responsible not only for  his congregation but also for supporting and educating the children of the parish. The ministers and the presbyteries appointed dominies who taught in the new parish schools. In this way the Scots had, in the 18th and 19th centuries, the most literate and numerate population in Europe. My view is that this democratic culture still imbues the whole of Scottish life, and it can still reach out to the wide margins of poverty. It is reasonable to argue that an independent Scotland, as a country small enough still to know itself as a community, will be in a better position at both a local and personal level to serve all its children and their families. Here I am not talking about “throwing money at problems” – though money is needed – but about a community which is in relationship with, and cares for, each one of its members. The United Kingdom signally fails to do this.

Charles Sharpe is a psychodynamic counsellor and psychotherapist. He also helps edit the website.



Ni Holmes comments

I cannot consider the opportunities that may emerge or be stifled on 18th September as a sideshow.  Now that better together are offering a timetable to plan for additional powers it seems to me that there is a clear direction of travel toward restructuring our society.  We will vote on 18th September to indicate how far we aspire to travel down that road.

Ni Homes is a consultant to a Scottish local authority’s Social Work Service working at all levels from policy to practice and across the full spectrum of social work and care services and also provides support externally to partner agencies.



Jonathan Stanley writes

The papers prompted me to reflect on the place of Residential Child Care in the English national conscience.

Though it was not our past more recently England has concretised individualised, responses to social problems. None more so than the ‘split off’ way children’s homes have been discussed with an attendant burgeoning policy framework that sees them as almost another country, and one without independence or self-determination allowable. [1] As created by English policy and practice the children’s homes sector provides last resort options for young people – young people arrive on average at 14.6 years old with many previous placements, staying a few months. [2] There is no space allowed for the positive use of residential options that might stem for example from asking the question, ‘What would Children’s Services look like if Residential child Care was seen as a positive’?

The discussions in England struggle to any interrogation of substance and are artfully and successfully kept only ever at the surface, policy and regulation are increasingly being separated from needs and provision.[3] Residential Child Care in England increasingly has neither choice or alternative, without the liberty to determine its own professional discourse or practice, its ability to be creative is prescribed and proscribed[4]

The understanding that had an appreciation of the need for collectively inspired provision has been consciously broken, further distancing looks a consequence of localism – Westminster from LAs, and LAs from LAs, LAs from providers. I am often reminded of Winnciott’s remark ‘the scatter of interested parties.’ We have not been successful even with the building blocks that might support a return of collaborative planning through the needs-led data collection that can underpin strategy to meet need. The right child in the right place at the right time, (first time even) requires data and an informed conceptual framework applied by everyone. In its place the peculiar English application of market economics has us focus on the instant of a placement/transaction. We have lost the space to consider social construction and context.[5]

Moving to the daily concerns regarding meeting the needs of young people I have raised with the DfE the matter of what happens after independence but have gained no interest as yet. It can be appreciated that given their tsunami of reform regulation [6] there is not an urgency that a new situation affects the historical relationship.

Throughout the reforms there is little appreciation that some young people’s needs are elemental. These young people may know no boundaries, international or emotional. In every sense our provision for them has often been a shared enterprise.

Recently we have been asked to assist local authorities in searches for young people with high level needs who have been in Scottish placements. For many reasons they had not been placed in provision in England. Their return southwards is to a sector already a scarce resource being made scarcer through attrition by regulation, regulator actions and a downward drive on fees by LAs.

The past has seen shared provision. I recall looking after Scottish young people in English provision. With independence can this continue as it has before? Let me explain.

The Children’s Homes and Looked after Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) Regulations 2013 came into force in January 2014.[7] These Regulations amended the Care Planning Regulations. The main changes introduce requirements for local authorities to consult and share information before placing children in distant placements and for the Director of Children’s Services (DCS) to give approval of these placements.

There will be circumstances where a distant placement will be the most suitable for a child, such as where the child concerned has complex treatment needs that cannot be met by services within the area of the responsible authority. There will also be children who require an out of authority placement to ensure they can be effectively safeguarded. Such placements will require effective planning, engagement and information sharing with the services likely to be responsible for meeting the child’s needs in the future.

The guidance for LAs concludes ‘the principles of effective planning that apply when considering out of authority placements in England apply equally to any placement by an English local authority in Wales.’ Nothing perhaps needed about Scotland when written. In what might be new circumstances the following current position would need affirmed as still being applicable :

Schedule 2, Para. 19 of the Children Act 1989, specifies that:

“(1) A local authority may only arrange for, or assist in arranging for, any child in their care [i.e. subject to a Care Order under Section 31] to live outside of England and Wales with the approval of the court” OR (2) … with the approval of every person who has parental responsibility for the child …”

There are additional requirements, set out in Paragraph 3, that a court will not grant approval unless satisfied that to do so is in the best interests of the child; that suitable arrangements are in place for where the child will live; and, the child capable of giving consent agrees to living in that country.

Any decision of a court to give or withhold its approval is subject to a right of appeal, and a court could rule that any approval it may have given does not have effect until the appeal has concluded.

By reason of Section 85 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, none of the above provision apply in respect of a local authority placing a child for adoption.

Jonathan Stanley is the CEO of the Independent Children’s Homes Association and Principal Partner of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care


[1] See Huffington Post blogs

2 DfE data set

3 See forthcoming consultations on Quality Standards and later Ofsted inspection framework

4 Home Truths

5 See Children England papers




 Evelyn Daniel comments

I know that in the kind of political campaign that has gone in Scotland a lot of hot air is talked,  many doomsday prophecies are made and a great deal of blue sky thinking is aired but before I make my response to Garry Coutts’s and Mark Smith’s articles and ripostes, I confess that my knowledge of child care and health services in Scotland is limited but if, as Mark Smith seems to imply, Scottish independence means that a Scottish government and Scottish local authorities are committed to purchasing and providing the major part of their own child care resources through the public purse I would want to hear more.

In England there are a number of excellent voluntary and private providers of child care services, but we have witnessed a trend in the last decade in which local authorities have gradually withdrawn from the provision of services and have encouraged private commercial organisations to take them over. Now that this is a well established project, we watch in despair the process of local authorities driving down the fees they are willing to pay to the private organisations they had in the first place persuaded to become providers. In this Dutch auction, economies have to be made and these reduce the quality of the service provided. This has meant that many excellent small providers previously offering a good quality of service could not sustain that level. Either they join the rush to the bottom or they withdraw because they are unwilling to provide a second rate service. There are always overly competitive commercial and less altruistic organisations (often quite large ones) willing to fill the vacuum this creates, and who, for the sake of  making sufficient profit to keep their shareholders content, lose site of the fact that their primary task is to provide good nurturing care for children and young people. These types of organisations increasingly dominate the scene.  In this way services to the most needy and the poorest of our children and young people have inexorably declined. Services to the poor just get poorer. There may be a place for small private enterprises to provide services for children but in my view the bulk of these services should be  funded and run by local authorities. In this way, even if it involves extra cost, all children will receive the care and support they need. This it seems to me is a more equitable way of doing things and from my distant perch I had thought that this is the direction of children’s services in Scotland.

I found Garry Coutts’s attitude towards dealing with inequality in all its forms at best sardonic. It is as if he’s saying that whenever attempts are made to deal with redistributing wealth little is achieved apart from actually widening the gap between rich and poor. I wondered why he doesn’t put forward new ideas which would address improving the life experience of poor and troubled children and their families in Scotland. He suggests structures are already there to deal with these issues. My experience in recent times is that structures and machinery are no help to troubled children, but committed loving adults, supported by a sympathetic community, are.

There is a measure of idealism in what Mark Smith writes but I feel myself more sympathetic to his tone. Drawing from its history and culture he suggests that an independent Scotland will be in a good position to spread wealth more equally and so provide a consistently high quality of child care services. He speaks of “individuals” and “relationships” rather than distant phrases like “curriculum for excellence”. If  Mark Smith’s prognostications about child care, health and education in an independent Scotland are right, I would wish the Scottish independence cause well and be concerned that we in England should learn from the way an independent Scotland cares for all its children.  What a time it is for Scotland and the United Kingdom !

Evelyn Daniel is a Child Care Services Manager in London


“Home Truths” about the struggle for survival of children’s homes

Jonathan Stanley, the Chief Executive Officer for the Independent Children’s Homes and of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child care has written to us about a new report which Children’s homes providers have published, ‘Home Truths – The state of independent residential child care 2014.
He suggests, “No other report has ever contained such a level of concern for the present and future of Residential Child Care.  It looks at the current situation, records experiences and charts the potential futures of what the authors see as an ‘unprecedented culture of anti-residential feeling.’”
In launching the report Jonathan  said, “The sector meets extraordinary needs with extraordinary responses yet is under-estimated, under-valued and under-funded.  Though providers have embraced reform, the report shows our nation’s homes do not have the necessary firm foundation for their future.  To change this situation will require Government-led clear strategic direction, commitment, creativity and courage.  We need people to step up for Residential Child Care.”
He believes “Alarm bells must start ringing. It has to be of major concern that this vital sector is experiencing demoralisation and fears irrevocable damage through its further diminution and contraction, even collapse, as providers disappear.  We are very far away from the one common shared future for Residential Child Care that is needed, to ensure the continuation of the specialism, safety and choice our young people need.”
The report sees children’s homes as necessary and needed, highly regulated, with a workforce of experienced, knowledgeable and committed professionals offering versatility, diversity and flexibility, in the very complex and difficult task of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and challenging group of young people in the UK.
Providers report fees from local authorities being driven down to unsustainable levels, regardless of the quality of the provision and call for an end to what they call local authorities ‘in-house-ism’, where their own resources are used first often leading to increased moves for a young person.  The report makes the call for new thinking, collaborative work between local authorities and providers to get the ‘right child in the right place – first time!’  The providers see costs frequently being prioritised over care considerations.  They also see that standardised benchmarking for needs/behaviours across all local authorities will assist in giving an accurate indication of the needs of the young person.
The providers seek a new partnership with Ofsted away from what is reported as a ‘toxic environment,’ arising from experiences of individual inspector interpretation and adversarial and attritional inspection.  One result given in the report is of providers acting to maintain good or outstanding ratings, by reducing the level of needs they previously admitted, resulting in some young people not having access to the services they need.  The report calls for inspections directed to improvement.
The providers call for an ambitious review of qualifications, radically changing the current requirements and delivery, and look to something similar to the professional teacher’s qualification.

CELCIS 2014 conference: “We are Family”

The Centre for Excellence for looked after children in Scotland has written to us to say that Early Bird booking for the CELCIS 2014: We are family is available until 30the June, and there is still have time to book at the discounted rate, with a saving of over 10%.
The conference aims to explore the question ‘how can we ensure looked after children and care leavers feel part of a nurturing family?’. It will consider the reality of what ‘family’ means to looked after children and care leavers; including birth families, adoptive families, foster / kinship / residential families and wider corporate families.
It will also explore what it means to be a corporate parent in Scotland from 2015 and will examine the practical implications of the Getting It Right for Every Child agenda, the new Children and Young People (Scotland) Act and the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act.
Keynote speakers are Dr Tony Bates, Founding Director of the National Centre for Youth Mental Health in Ireland and Frank Cottrell Boyce, screenwriter and novelist. Parallel sessions include contributions from Aberdeen City Council, St Roch’s Secondary School in Glasgow, and Foster Care Associates. Scotland.
The conference takes places on Wednesday, 8th October, 2014 at the Perth Concert Hall.
Cost: Early bird rate for three or more delegates £100, early bird single delegate £120.

For further information visit the CELCIS website.

Another View on the Intentions of Scotland’s 16 and 17 years old voters


More High School Wins For Yes

Yes Scotland continued to notch up more high school debate wins, with a trio of successes, including victories in Scotland’s biggest cities.

A debate at St Mungo’s Academy in Glasgow  saw the Yes side win 59% of the vote, with No on 23% and 18% undecided.

Michael Gray, an activist from the city emphasised Scotland’s firm financial foundations at the Bridgeton school, including how we’re the 14th wealthiest country, ahead of the UK, France and Japan.

Alison Johnstone MSP and Kenny MacAskill MSP led Yes Scotland to overturn a pre-poll shortfall of 17 points into a 56% victory.

Ms Johnstone told her audience that an independent Scotland could create a written constitution, enshrining many of the country’s values and fundamental policies.

Alison Johnstone, Lothian’s Green MSP said: ‘I was delighted to speak at Gracemount High. The pupils had clearly done their preparation so it was a lively and engaged debate, just as it should be.

“The speakers for No kept repeating that we don’t have to change the UK’s constitution to see progress, but I argued that one of the big opportunities from independence for young people was to enshrine values like free education in a modern, written constitution. More and more young people are realising that they can be part of a generation that votes Yes to take control of Scotland’s future.”

This morning, Gavin Lundy, a member of Generation Yes, defeated local MSP Margaret McDougall at Garnock Academy in North Ayrshire.

Gavin increased the Yes vote by 24% to see the pro-independence side win the post-debate poll by 54% for Yes and 46% for No.

Sarah-Jane Walls, Yes Scotland’s Operations Manager said: “David Cameron blundered by saying that Yes hasn’t won a single school debate, which simply isn’t true. These comprehensive victories add to the steady flow of young moving over to Yes.

“Many of Scotland’s young people are realising that we can continue with free higher education and secure the powers needed to grow the economy and create more jobs with a Yes vote.”



Issue 15 of the goodenoughcaring Journal is served

The 15th issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal is now on the table. Given the interest in the general affairs of Scotland this year, we are serving up a Scottish flavoured goodenoughcaring Journal. Though showing distinct signs of have taken in on its travels, Arbroath Smokies, Cullen Skink, Stovies, Dundee Cake, Deep-fried Mars Bars,  and Irn Bru. Issue 15 of the goodenoughcaring Journal contains dishes garnered from the other region of interest in this issue: residential child care.

You will find in this feast , articles dealing with childhood in Scotland, others considering matters specific to residential child care, and still others about residential care and Scotland . We hope this menu has something which you will savour.

The authors providing the fare are Kevin Ball, John BurnsideCynthia Cross,  David Divine, Ni Holmes, Noel Howard, Alan Macquarrie, Jeremy Millar, A.S.Neill, Charles Sharpe, Mark Smith, Laura Steckley, John Stein, R.L.Stevenson, Calum Strathie, and Adrian Ward.

We hope that after taking in the Journal you will feel encouraged to write an article for our next issue in December.

Click here for the Journal and for access to all the articles from previous issues.

Social Care : Learning from Practice  –  new book from Ireland

The Dublin publishers Gill & Macmillan announce the publication of Social Care : Learning from Practice edited by Noel Howard and Denise Lyons. Noel Howard has been a generous contributor of articles to the goodenoughcaring Journal. The book is written by social care workers and draws on insightful stories of practice key issues that impact the social care of children and young people today. It offers a wealth of practical knowledge from the experiences of social care workers who have worked with different groups in diverse settings. If you wish to learn more about this book or if you are interested in purchasing it please go to Social Care : Learning from Practice


Noel Howard is a retired social care worker and manager. He is the founder member and secretary of Social Care Ireland and is Chair of Care Leavers Ireland. He has written on social care work and edits publications for the Irish Association of Social Care Workers.

Denise Lyons is a lecturer in the Department of Humanities, Institute of Technology Blanchardstown, and has worked as a social care worker in residential care for several years. She is also an art therapist and the editor of Creative Studies for the Caring Professions (Gill & Macmillan). Denise is currently the President of Social Care Ireland.

Social Care : Learning from Practice will be reviewed in the December 2014 issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal.

Down from the mountain and into the glen comes Issue 15 of the goodenoughcaring Journal

The road from Braedownie, Glen Clova


Issue  15 of the goodenoughcaring Journal will come down  from the mountains and into the glens on Sunday, June15th, 2014.  Given the international interest in affairs Scottish this year one of the themes in this issue is Scotland and childhood and a spectrum of articles emanating from Scotland written for us by David DivineNi Holmes, Jeremy Millar, Mark Smith, Laura Steckley, Calum Strathie, and Charles Sharpe may to an  extent speak in different ways of the experience and meaning of childhood, child care and education in Scotland in the past and present but in the main they  have an eye to the future of the upbringing of children both in Scotland and further afield. Supporting these are two rarely seen pieces by A.S. Neill and Robert Louis Stevenson and  an extract from The Legends of Scottish Saints edited and translated from the Aberdeen Breviary by Alan Macquarrie.

In other articles, Noel Howard  critically examines the new Child and Family Agency in Ireland while following the wide interest shown in his first article, Kevin Ball has written us a sequel which considers the principles which guide the Independent Regulation 33 Visitor to children’s homes.  Cynthia Cross writes about the enigma of staff relationships in residential child care, John Stein considers relationship with parents in residential child care, Charles Sharpe reviews Adrian Ward’s new book on leadership in residential child care and Adrian Ward tells us how it came to be written.

Leadership in Residential Child Care  a relationship-based approach : a new book from Adrian Ward




The Smokehouse Press of Norwich are publishing Adrian Ward’s new book Leadership in Residential Child Care  a relationship-based approach. (ISBN 9780957633537)

The book will be the subject of a full review in the June 15th issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal and an article by Adrian Ward telling the story of how the book came to be written will also be published.

In 2007 Adrian Ward was commissioned by the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care to write a paper on  Leadership in Residential Child Care. This paper was available for some years from the National Children’s Bureau website and was one of its most popular downloads, but until now has only been available in that form. Adrian Ward has now written a revised and greatly expanded version of this influential monograph, and it is published as a hardback volume for the first time.

Covering a wide range of themes from leadership style to unconscious dynamics of leadership, this is a personally argued account of the critical role of the manager or head of home, focusing also on the leader’s  needs for support and consultation. The author illuminates his writing with examples of real life incidents in residential child care.

Although focused very much on the child care setting, the book also has a resonance for those in leadership roles in other professional settings.

Writing about the book Professor Jim Anglin of the School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria BC, Canada, says, “Finally we have a book on leadership that is fully congruent with the principles and practice of therapeutic residential child care. It contains an immense amount of insight, wisdom and real life examples in a deceptively concise fashion. It is an instant classic. For managers, directors and supervisors it will be like having an expert personal consultant at your side at all times – this is a GREAT CONTRIBUTION TO OUR FIELD”.

The author and the publishers have insisted on creating  a beautifully bound hard back volume. It can only be purchased through the publishers Smokehouse Press at at the price of £18 plus p & p.



Matters of opinion : Scots teenagers and their voting intentions in the coming referendum on Scottish independence.

On May 20th, 2014 a Daily Telegraph sponsored blog was posted online by the Daily Telegraph columnist, Jenny Djul about the voting intentions of Scottish teenagers in September’s referendum on Scottish independence . This would not have concerned us except that the blog was reproduced as a feed on the news page of a widely read, highly respected and influential network site which is concerned with the care and welfare of children and young people. The problem with news feeds like these is that they can be random and there is no guarantee that there will be a subsequent more balanced feed on any given topic from another source.

The teenage vote carries more influence in the upcoming referendum because the Scottish Government decided to lower the minimum age at which an individual might vote from 18 years to 16 years of age.

At goodenoughcaring there is not an official or indeed a collective view about what the voting intentions of teenager in the referendum should be. We welcome people’s different views on this. Our general approach is that any view related to the care and education of children and young people is valid as long as it is thoughtful and is not abusive or unfairly prejudiced toward children and young people, the adults who look after them, and the communities from which they come.

We are interested in a balanced discussion about this issue and we have posted a copy of the blog here together with some responses to it. We would welcome further comments.

If Scottish teens are backing the Union, in whose name are the Nats fighting.

By Jenny Hjul

Alex Salmond must be regretting his push for a change in the voting rules to get young people on board for his independence referendum. The SNP’s cynical ploy to extend the suffrage to 16- and 17-year-olds, based on a mistaken belief that youngsters would vote Yes, has backfired spectacularly as enfranchised teenagers across Scotland endorse the Union.

David Cameron said on the Today programme that in the school debates he’d been to, the No campaign had triumphed, and his experience is borne out in the latest polls. Almost two-thirds of voters under 18 are worried about the economic future of a separate Scotland.

The Carrington Dean survey of teens aged 15-17 found that 41 per cent believe their parents would be worse off, compared to 21 per cent who think that they’d be better off. The survey also found that 64 per cent worry about the economic outlook post-independence, while only 17 per cent said they weren’t concerned.

School referendums since March this year show the SNP has an impossible task ahead with young voters: 84 per cent No, 16 per cent Yes in Craigmount High in Edinburgh; 70 per cent No, 30 per cent Yes at Hazelhead Academy in Aberdeen; 72 per cent No, 28 per cent Yes in Forres Academy in Moray; and 75 per cent No, 25 per cent Yes in Orkney High Schools, according to Better Together. In Lockerbie, 70 per cent voted in favour of remaining in the UK.

In Aberdeenshire, where the SNP won every seat in the last Scottish parliamentary elections, a mock referendum of more than 11,000 schoolchildren eligible to vote on 18 September found that almost 9,000 wanted to stay in the UK.

The Nationalists say that many young people have open minds on the issue and could be persuaded to change their opinions before September. But they should be careful not to sound too patronising. The fact that so many youngsters have rejected the separatists’ spin is not a reflection of a politicised generation but a sign that parochial nationalism has not captured the imagination of today’s youth.

A Better Together rep said after a debate in his school: “A lot of my friends went in undecided but after listening to both sides, they understood that being part of the UK means we have so many more opportunities than we would if we went it alone. “I think nationalism is a thing of the past. When we live in such an interconnected world and can speak face to face with our friends across the world at the touch of a button, why would we want to shut ourselves off from our neighbours just down the road?”,/p>

Another youngster, writing in a national newspaper, said: “Ultimately, I can’t help but ask what the purpose of independence is? Why fix something that isn’t broken?”

University students are also predominantly in favour of the status quo. A student referendum at the University of Strathclyde was won by the Unionists with 55 per cent of the vote, against 45 per cent for the Nationalists.

And when more than 1,500 students from Glasgow Caledonian University were asked how they would vote, 63 per cent said No and 37 per cent said Yes. In February last year, more than 2,500 students at Glasgow University took part in a similar event and 62 per cent voted to stay in the UK, compared to 38 per cent against.

Young people today are the products of a social media revolution and their cultural context is global. They do not see their future in terms of shrinking horizons; they are children of the universe and their outlook is boundless.

It might be convenient for the Nationalists to dismiss young voters if they don’t toe the secessionist line, and say they represent a tiny part of the electorate. But their resounding No saps energy from the separatists, and gives their elders pause for thought.

If tomorrow’s student radicals – as well as its leaders, legislators, policy makers and law enforcers – are committed to the United Kingdom, then the Nationalists have to ask themselves: in whose name are they fighting?

Jenny Hjul, 
20 May, 2014.


Stuart Russon writes,

I fully support lowering the voting age.  I can only go by my own experience and I reckon 13 or 14 would have been about the age I feel I could be trusted to vote properly and not just put an Andy Gray panini sticker (I was then and am now an Aston Villa supporter) over the ballot sheet.
I think I probably would’ve been more to the right at that age though. I still had the same instinctive desire for fairness that I do now but I had yet to learn how unfair and unbalanced society could be. I wasn’t particularly well informed about the news and it is only recently (last 10 years or so) that I’ve realised how much of the news that was reported to me was biased. Miners were thugs, football fans were thugs, socialism/communism was to be feared etc. etc. I could go on for yonks.
So I suppose if I do have a view on this aside from ‘yes, lower the voting age’ it would be to be cautious and aware of the propaganda machines that would be set-off to chase the young vote as perhaps younger people are more susceptible to direct marketing. I’ve no reason to make this sweeping statement except that I think I probably was more easily swayed and paid less attention to the detail when I was young which often means missing out on the truth I think.

Cynthia Cross observes,

Over the years I have pondered what I think about 16 year olds having the vote and on balance I think “Why not?”
I can’t think that their reasons for voting a particular way would be any worse than that of the average adult (who ever they are)  As John Stein says,” they will have to live with the outcome longer.”
I remember in 1951, when I was 16,  standing as Labour candidate in mock elections at school and think that issues were taken very seriously, and most people read the party manifestos.
Better education in critical thinking and problem solving would be helpful. Instead of mugging up facts to remember for exams and then forget, exams could be taken in reference libraries with access to the internet, so children could be given questions to solve, that involved finding information, verifying it is authentic, and showing that they know how to use it. Have we got the teachers to teach this, or the examiners to mark it?
About Scottish Independence, any sort of nationalism is worrying.  I cross out nationality on any forms I fill in and write born in England – it has caused problems on occasions.
Having said that I understand that Scottish, child care, justice education and  welfare law is better than that of England and of course I applaud the Scots wanting to get rid of nuclear weapons.

Jack Colhoun remarks,

From all the radio and television programmes I have heard and seen about this it seems to me these new 16 and 17 years old voters in Scotland think about their politics with more consideration than their elders.

John Stein writes,

What the right age for enfranchisement is, requires me to really think. Here in the USA I had not known 17-year-olds were allowed to vote, until I went to Wikipedia, which says that currently, 19 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will be 18 in time to vote in the general election. My thoughts are that the voting age should be based on whatever age the majority of the people of that age have the maturity to make an informed decision, and the responsibility to inform themselves. 16 seems reasonable. Many at that age are still in school, and therefore likely to be exposed to issues in class. More, in class there should be a mix of people with different views, so that healthy discussions could take place, beginning in class and continuing after class. The rest of us tend not to have that opportunity, with people, at least in this country, tending to associate with those with similar views, and refraining from expressing their views on political matters when associating with others whose views they do not know. I remember first becoming interest in politics as a high school student. John F. Kennedy was campaigning in our home town (Reading, PA), and we were to leave school to attend. My best friend was most interested in politics and watched the nominating conventions on tv religiously, so he convinced me to go with him and got me interested. He was quite liberal. (He has since become so conservative that he refuses discuss politics with me). My final point, on the issue of independence, the younger voters will have to live with the outcome longer than the older voters, and should be allowed to vote.

Jeremy Millar comments

I completely agree with Mark’s analysis of the Telegraph piece. As if David Cameron would ever visit a school in an area affected by his party’s ‘welfare reforms’. The YES campaign are vibrant and putting forward a positive message. People of all ages and social class are debating the issues. I believe that on the day people will take the leap of faith despite the fear factor being peddled persistently through the London controlled media.

Mark Smith observes

This certainly is biased – but perhaps no more or less than we might expect from the Telegraph – it epitomises a metropolitan arrogance that we’re too wee, too poor, too stupid to govern ourselves. It’s interesting even to look at the examples cited. At a very quick glance they’re very middle class schools (but even here I’d question the results). There are other examples out there. Have a look at the futureukandscotland website for more academic analysis watch and listen to the Queen Margaret University debate here.

My reading of the situation is somewhat ironic in that under 18s have actually experienced competent government under the SNP and do not have the sense of grievance that previous generations have experienced.

Having said that, for what it’s worth my own kids tell me that there’s a definite move towards a Yes vote amongst their pals.