Date: 15 Oct 2004
GCC Management must not wash their hands of Kerelaw
Scotland Social Work union, UNISON will today make representations
to Glasgow City Council, asking that they reject a management plan to withdraw
from the running of Kerelaw School in Ayrshire.
Management in Social Work
and Education are proposing to the council that they close the residential school
by the end of this financial year, and give notice to the Scottish Executive of
their intention to withdraw from the management of the secure unit, whilst working
with the Executive to make arrangements for the future.
Glasgow City Branch
of UNISON - who represent the UNISON members working in Kerelaw - has produced
a statement calling for the much-needed facilities to be retained in public ownership,
and for the management to be improved.
Ronnie Stevenson, (Social Work Convenor
for Glasgow City Branch) said "There is absolutely no reason for the City
Council to wash its hands of Kerelaw in this way. All the evidence suggests that
we will need more special placements centres, especially secure units to place
children who will benefit from that care. Both facilities were full prior to the
bar on placing pupils there. It also comes in the middle of a Scottish Executive
commissioned review into secure accommodation for young people in Scotland.
Care Commission/HMIE report - although it made criticisms - did not even issue
improvement notices - still less call for closure.
"Kerelaw has been poorly
managed and there has been an absence of adequate training, supervision and support,
but the alternative of placing vulnerable young people in privately-run accommodation
will be both more expensive and more bureaucratic. Management should have to face
up to their responsibilities and not run away from what should be a valuable resource
in and for the public sector.
Note for Editors: UNISON's case
UNISON GLASGOW CITY SOCIAL WORK SERVICES SHOP STEWARDS COMMITTEE
Submission on Kerelaw
Kerelaw has been consistently full and often over
numbers over the last twenty years until management stopped admissions. Glasgow
Childrens' Residential Units are full to overflowing with young people some of
whom would benefit from a placement in Kerelaw.
GCC currently has to access
expensive specialist residential places which with a more imaginative approach
could be provided in-house at Kerelaw. Current Scottish Executive Youth Crime
policy and the general increase in the incidence of vulnerable young people indicates
that there will be no lessening in the numbers of young people requiring a residential
school placement, particularly secure placements.
Many of the community-based
alternatives to residential care such as fostering have not proved to be successful
for the young people in Kerelaw. Even the figures in the report, which we think
require more examination, mean that GCC will require both open and secure residential
The retention of Kerelaw would lessen the dependence on
placements in the private sector, many of whom are not ideal because of excessive
distances and costs. The management proposals come against a background of an
adverse Care Commission/HMIE report.
This same Care Commission has given
Kerelaw a clean bill of health in all its earlier reports and highlighted many
positive aspects of the care provision at Kerelaw. The as yet unproven allegations
of inappropriate childcare practices at Kerelaw have also informed the management's
decision. No consideration seems to be have given of the impact of the poor staffing
in area teams on Kerelaw which often meant that the young people in Kerelaw had
no allocated Social Worker.
The Care Commission have stated they have learned
from their two recent inspections of Kerelaw to approach such inspections differently
ie more thoroughly and independently. It would be interesting to know what the
results of their new 'better' inspections of all the other Residential Schools
to which GCC currently sends its young people would be. Our contention would be
that Kerelaw has been poorly managed both internally and externally over many
Management has placed inappropriate pressures on the staff there,
often forcing them to go over their numbers. There has been an absence of adequate
training, supervision and support.
It is ironic that some of those involved
in managing Kerelaw are now in senior positions in private child care agencies
from which GCC commissions services.
Management should not be allowed to
deal with their historical responsibilities by washing their hands of Kerelaw.
GCC should provide the services for its young people, including residential school
placements, both open and secure, in the framework of democratically accountable
direct services, rather than outsourcing them to the private sector.
Further Information Please Contact: Ronnie Stevenson (Social Work Convenor
- Glasgow City UNISON) - 07803 952 262(m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer)
0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)