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FNFS guide promoted in Government "Learning Together" strategy

The Scottish Government's newly published national action plan on parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home 2018 - 2021 includes various commitments to improve engagement of fathers. 

The action plan was launched by Deputy First Minister John Swinney who said that it sets out a vision for parental engagement for the next three years and promises to "raise the bar yet higher", by supporting every parent and family on their "educational journey".

The Scottish Government will work with Fathers Network Scotland and Families Need Fathers Scotland to ensure that all key guidance and training materials relating to parental involvement and engagement are “father friendly”, fully reflect the role of dads, and reflect the principles of father-inclusive practice.

They will also work with local authority partners and parents to consider and address barriers which may prevent separated parents from being involved and engaged.  The Scottish Government will promote the Children In Scotland/Families Need Fathers Scotland  Helping Children Learn guidance on involving separated parents to all schools.

FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, says, "We have worked hard over the years both to help separated parents build a productive relationship with their children's school and equally to convey to schools that separated parents are too often an untapped resource in support of their children's learning.

We are delighted that the Action Plan is so clear in its expectation that schools must become more parent friendly, more father friendly and more separated parent friendly. We will do whatever we can to assist in that process.

We will continue to raise with Mr Swinney and with CoSLA the imperative that the system of pupil enrolment forms must be overhauled. They should ensure the contact details of both parents are included and given equal status. The existing practice of giving only a limited list of 'entitlements' to non-resident parents should stop. The practice is not rooted in any educational benefit to the children and is fundamentally discriminatory."


£1032 raised for FNFS at Dundee Kiltwalk

A ten-strong team of walkers raised more than a thousand pounds for the charity at the Dundee Kiltwalk on Sunday 19th August.  Congratulations to Erin, Ian, Jacqueline, Jane, John, Louis, Miranda, Paul, Alastair & Steve

The funding included £250 that had been donated by guests at Ed and Miranda's recent wedding to recognise the support they have had from Families Need Fathers Scotland.  Another £20 was given on the day by one of the spectators at the walk.  The donor was a grandmother who wanted to support our work because of all the contact problems that her son had suffered.

Everyone enjoyed the six-mile Wee Wander from central Dundee along the Tay shore to Monifeith. Despite gloomy weather forecasts the afternoon was dry and cool.

Following our fundraising success on the Glasgow and Dundee Kiltwalks, we are making a final push to have a really big presence at the Edinburgh Kiltwalk on 16th September.  To sign up and join the FNFS team contact Alastair Williamson or see our fundraising information.


The Road and the Miles to Dundee

We have 8 people signed up to take part and raise funds for FNF Scotland in the Dundee Kiltwalk on August 19th.

Our team page if you would like to support us is here.

There's always room for more on the team so please get in touch if you'd like to join us on the day.


Family law consultation extended until September

The deadline for responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 has been extended until midnight on 28 September 2018.  This change has been made because many of the responding organisations were finding it difficult to meet the early August deadline because of the school holidays.  It had already been announced that some consultation with children and young people was going to take place later in August after the schools have resumed.

Families Need fathers Scotland is working on our response and we have already held well-attended meetings in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Stirling and Paisley to discuss the issues.  Our response will be presented on our web site and we have already published a note of our main points.

Now that there is some more time, we repeat our appeal for parents to respond to the consultation so that your own experience can be heard.  When making a submission about your own case, be careful to avoid using names or other identifiable details.  You don't need to answer all 54 questions, just select the ones that are relevant to you.  Get writing.


Welcome improvement to cross-border judicial co-operation

Scottish Lord President Lord Carloway and outgoing head of the English Family Division Sir James Munby have launched a welcome initiative to improve cross border co-operation in family cases.

Their new judicial protocol will provide for the direct exchange of information between judges in intra-UK cross-border cases involving children. Liaison judges will be appointed in each country - the Scottish ones will be the two family judges Lord Brailsford and Lady Wise.  When legal proceedings are taking place in Scotland and England or Wales judges can communicate and exchange information via the liaison judges. 

While the detailed arrangements are mainly of interest to the judges who will make use of it, the preamble to the Protocol makes some interesting points:

  • Recognise that Scotland and England & Wales share a common commitment to the rule of law and to the principle that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration when his or her needs or rights are considered by the courts;
  • Recognise that in cases involving children which have a cross-border element, judicial co-operation is of critical importance;
  • Consider that cross-border judicial co-operation should include the early identification of cases, clear lines of communication, the free flow of relevant information and the facilitation of effective case management;
  • Recognise that the removal of children from one country to another may have a harmful effect on such children;
  • Recognise that it is desirable that in the regulation of cross-border judicial communications as between Scotland and England & Wales the judiciary has regard to the Principles for Direct Judicial Communications as published by the Hague Conference on Private International Law;
  • Recognise the importance of negotiation, mediation and conciliation in the resolution of family disputes where appropriate; and
  • Recognise the value of ongoing cross-border judicial engagement in the preceding matters.
Alongside the Protocol a Handbook has been published giving short summaries of the law relating to children in Scotland, England and Wales.  The Scottish information about public and private law orders and procedure is written by Lynda Brabander QC.  This cross border guide provides a useful introduction to how things work in the three countries.
Families Need Fathers Scotland and our English and Welsh counterparts handle enquiries relating to cross border cases, and such information is long overdue.  We often find that the lawyers within one country have no understanding of how things work across the border.
We have been calling for a long time for better procedures for handling cross border cases within the UK, and while this Judicial move is a welcome improvement, we feel that a lot more needs to be done:
  • enforcement of court orders between countries is still cumbersome;
  • CAFCASS staff seem reluctant to come to Scotland when doing court reports, whereas child welfare reporters are more willing to travel to England
  • within the UK it would be desirable to have a clear understanding of which court deals with a cross-border case. At present it becomes a race to raise proceedings, whereas in international cases there are reasonably clear rules on which court should be acting;
While some of the above problems will be difficult to resolve, we suggest that a next step following on form this cross border initiative would be to clarify the procedure and cost of registering orders made in one country when they have to be implemented by a court elsewhere in the UK. 
We also look forward to the extension of this judicial protocol to the courts in Northern Ireland, given that they are operating under yet another set of laws and procedures.
We will raise these points in the current Scottish Government consultation and also write to the incoming President of the Family Division in England and Wales Sir Andrew McFarlane.
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