Tuesday, 23 June 2015


It made me sad to listen to the interview with Lord Laming on BBC radio 4 Today 23/06/15

He was being asked about the number of young people in the care system who end up in the justice system. He clearly has a kind and wise understanding of the needs of vulnerable children.

He was being asked how do you make Social work a profession people want to do when the stakes are so high, and there is so much blame, and how can you give continuity of care to young people if social workers are dropping out of the profession.

He was asked if he thought that the changes that had come into effect as a result of his recommendations on the Victoria Climbie case  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmeduski/40/40.pdf or the Baby P case http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/8646/1/12_03_09_children.pdf  had contributed to an oppressive target driven culture, and the morale problems within social work

His heartfelt response was “I would find it very upsetting that anything that I had said would lead to a bureaucratic response. to all this”.

It made me think about how we as a country deal with scandals.

The pattern seems to be this:

·         Something happens that grabs the attention of the media, and it dominates the news agenda. Government immediately goes into “something must be done” mode.

·         There is no simple answer so they select a respected person to review and make recommendations.

·         This eminent person makes a sincere attempt to understand the complexity and produces a considered report which has to include recommendations.

·         The recommendations will normally imply the need for greater spending.

·         The government has to be seen to respond positively to the recommendations, It will tend to select those recommendations that do not require extra spending.

·         The government will need to prove that the recommendations are being followed, so it will bring in some kind of system for measuring the actions or outcomes.

·         Boards all over the country will incorporate these measurement systems into their governance systems, and the figures will become a focus for future anxiety.

·         The media may fail to understand the complex picture that the detailed reports have given us, but will focus on the “failings” made visible by the governance systems.

In almost all cases what these reports, brought together by sincere people who have thought deeply about the issues , will recommend that there needs to be joined up thinking, connecting the work of different organisations with the focus on the individual.

In almost all cases these deep recommendations will remain untouched, because no one knows how to make different organisations, each struggling with budgets that will not cover the costs, begin to work together effectively.

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