Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
The Scottish Government’s consultation on statutory guidance to accompany the Named Person scheme closes on Friday 1 May.
Download the response form here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00469612.doc
The guidance was supposed to clarify and illuminate matters, but has somehow only managed to muddy the waters even more.
It contains over 100 pages of impenetrable, incoherent and incomprehensible politically correct double speak. After looking through it, and even after taking legal advice, we are none the wiser as to how this scheme will work in practice.
The responsibilities of a Named Person are going to fall on teachers and health visitors.
These are hard-working professionals with massive conflicting demands on their time. How can they be expected to shoulder the additional burden of making crucial decisions which will impact on children and their parents?
One thing is clear: the guidance confirms everything we’ve been saying about the Government’s plans. Parents are sidelined and face the prospect of confidential information being shared about them and their children without consent.
For example, the section on sharing information says:
“the Named Person should make it clear that whilst the views of the child and parents are valued and must be taken into account, their consent is not being sought, and the Named Person may, where appropriate, share information without consent”.
(Paragraph 10.2.14, emphasis added)
NO2NP remains firmly of the view that the primary legislation itself is fundamentally flawed and cannot be corrected by guidance. Nonetheless, it’s important that the Scottish Government hears what people in the real world think of their state guardian scheme. This consultation is another chance for us to say No to Named Persons.
Full details of the Scottish Government’s consultation (including the Respondent Information Form you’re supposed to include with your response) can be found here: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0046/00469598.pdf
If you’re short on time, you might just want to respond to question 23, which invites general comments on the Named Person.
For suggestions on the line you might want to take, check out the tips below.
Please say NO2NP by responding to this consultation by 1 May.
Suggestions for responding:
- The guidance should be prefaced and punctuated by assurances that the Government recognises that parents are primarily responsible for their children, not the State.
- Paragraph 2.7.1 says that there’s a wellbeing need if a child’s wellbeing “is, or is at risk of, being adversely affected by any matter” (emphasis added). This is extremely vague and makes it almost inevitable that Named Persons will interfere in ordinary family life because the threshold of wellbeing is so low.
- The list of things the Named Person is supposed to have “a clear understanding of” (see para. 4.1.16) sounds like a lot to add to the job description of professionals who already have a full time job.
- Parents are repeatedly sidelined in the guidance. For example, according to paragraph 4.1.19: “The Named Person response to any wellbeing concerns should be proportionate, informed by the child’s views and should reflect the nature of their need for additional support” (emphasis added). What about parents’ views?
- ‘Information sharing’ is one of the greatest concerns because of the potential for breaches of privacy. Paragraph 10.2.14 suggests that parental concerns about information sharing could be ignored on almost any grounds. This is going even further than the legislation.
- The guidance should set out in exactly what circumstances parents could be legitimately excluded from discussions about a child’s wellbeing – if any – instead of using vague generalities.
- Paragraph 10.2.19 says children or parents would only have to engage with the Named Person if “there is a current concern or a concern arises about the child’s wellbeing”. But the fear is that a refusal to engage with the Named Person will itself likely be deemed “a current concern”.
- Paragraph 10.3.5 gives virtual carte blanche to Named Persons to share information with other ‘service providers’: “if they consider it is relevant to the exercise of functions of the recipient which affect or may affect the wellbeing of the child or young person”. Guidance should stipulate safeguards to protect privacy, not open the door further to unnecessary data sharing.