Annual report highlights scale of children's services

An Annual Report on Aberdeenshire’s Children’s Services Plan has been endorsed by Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee, tracking progress against aims agreed through a multi-agency action plan which involves the police, the NHS and Aberdeenshire’s Health and Social Care Partnership as well as third sector partners.

It highlights the scale of what the council is delivering on a daily basis alongside partners: Aberdeenshire’s 150 primary schools, 17 secondary schools and 4 special schools, support more than 35,000 pupils and the report highlights above average school attendance as well as increases in the number of SCFQ awards being gained by secondary school pupils.

The report also shows the Active Schools programme is seeing an increase in participation by those with a disability, those who are care experienced and those from low-income families. And, in terms of health more generally, the report also highlights work being done to increase breastfeeding and improve dental health is realising steady improvement, and more than 13,000 children aged under five and their parents are supported by the Universal Health Visiting Pathway.

It also shows more than 2,400 young people are being supported through social work, more than 400 are legally considered to be ‘looked after’ by the local authority, around 359 children and young people with a disability receive a Self-Directed Support Package and 77 children and young people are on Aberdeenshire’s Child Protection Register. 

Progress of the plan has been monitored by Aberdeenshire’s GIRFEC (Getting it Right For Every Child) Strategic Group, with thematic subgroups progressing actions around mental health, corporate parenting, substance misuse, children with a disability and early years specifically. These meet in addition to 17 locally-based multi-agency working groups, 17 local community learning partnerships and 17 local early years forums all designed to help support local issues.

Leigh Jolly, Interim Head of Children’s Services for Aberdeenshire Council explains: “In our work to support a confident, competent multi-agency workforce who are well-equipped to be able to support all of our children and young people, we've realised a 150% increase in visitors to Aberdeenshire’s GIRFEC website, a 150% increase in the delivery of training modules and a 48% increase in attendance of these training modules.

“We’re keen to see even more of an increase in the uptake of training modules, which colleagues across Aberdeenshire whose work involves supporting young people and their families can access via the GIRFEC website to ensure that we are getting it right for every child in Aberdeenshire.”

For more about training opportunities, visit: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/practitioners/learningdevelopment/

Another key aspect of this work involves actively facilitating children and young people’s participation in local decision-making and promoting children’s rights. The report highlights an expansion of the Children & Young People’s section of the GIRFEC website and a module on children’s rights and participation which was launched as part of the Year of Young People in 2018.

Education and Children’s Services Committee Chair, Cllr Gillian Owen commented: “Well done to the multi-agency teams who work day-in-day-out to ensure the provisions in place to support our children and young people are the best they can be.

“I’m pleased to see a range of development work has continued across Aberdeenshire which supports rights-based decision-making, and increased facilitation of youth participation in local decision-making forums.

“I personally liaise with a number of our Members of Scottish Youth Parliament before every committee meeting and I’m proud to see the voice of young people shaping every aspect of our work.”

The full version report is available on the GIRFEC Aberdeenshire website at: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Item-3.4.3-Final-Draft-CSP-Annual-Report-2018-19-Full-VersionAppendixA.pdf as well as a summary version which communicates key information in a manner accessible to practitioners, families and the general public: https://www.girfec-aberdeenshire.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Childrens-Services-Plan-Annual-Report-2018-19-Summary-Version.pdf