Scottish champions kept in the dark

Looked-after children’s champions in Scottish schools have
struggled to make an impact in their first 18 months because of a
lack of guidance from the Scottish executive.

In March 2001, education minister Cathy Jamieson ordered all 4,000
primary, secondary and special schools in the country to appoint a
teacher to champion the interests of children in care by the end of

While that target was met, schools have complained that there has
been no information on what the role entails, which has limited the
champions’ effectiveness.

Kirstie MacLean, director of the Scottish Institute of Residential
Care (Sirc), which has just developed guidance on the role, said
some schools had asked her for advice.

“The executive has been chasing people up to make sure champions
are in place, but in some areas people have been given the job and
don’t know what they should be doing,” she added.

However, the executive said information on the role of designated
looked-after children’s teachers was included in a Schools and
Social Work Inspectorate report in 2001, which led to Jamieson’s
initial recommendation.

The Sirc guidance, in Learning with Care, suggests that
children in care champions can have a wide job description. It
recommends they should offer pastoral support, deal with
confidential information, be familiar with national and local
guidance on looked-after children, and keep in regular contact with
parents, social workers and carers.

They should also discuss with young people how much and what
information they would like teachers to know about their background
so that it can be used in a positive way.

The guidance is part of a wider package of training and support
material for councils, carers and teachers, commissioned by the
executive from Baaf Adoption and Fostering, Save the Children,
Strathclyde University and Who Cares? Scotland.

About 15,000 copies of Learning with Care have been
produced for foster carers, teachers and residential care home

–  Learning with Care from Sirc on 0141 950 3683.

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