Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
The Scottish Government is considering controversial proposals to implement the detested named person scheme “by the back door” … even if MSPs refuse to support changes to the law.
Discussion of a so-called “Plan B” is revealed in documents which have only been made public, after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by NO2NP stalwart Lesley Scott.
The papers were produced following a meeting of unnamed top level government officials and advisors in February this year.
An annex under the headline “CONTINGENCY” states: “Contingency plan? What if the legislation is not passed?”
And adds: “Plan B for if Bill fails to make sure parts 4&5 can be implemented without information sharing.”
The scheme has been riddled with problems and last month a further delay was revealed.
John Swinney set up a panel to produce a Code of Practice by September 2018, after Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee said it would not pass the legislation without one. But Professor Ian Welsh, chair of the panel, wrote to Mr Swinney to inform him that the panel would not be able to meet this deadline.
Lesley Scott of the TYMES Trust, said: “These worrying documents show the focus is clearly on implementing Named Person by the back door, regardless of whether the new Bill gets through Parliament. Clearly, we are now dealing with a Government which is ignoring the UK Supreme Court, has no regard for the elected representatives of the Scottish people and is determined to shun public opinion.
“They are riding roughshod over the democratic system in pursuit of a flawed, failed and discredited project.”
Ms Scott asked for all details from three key meetings of the Statutory Guidance Framework Group tasked to review the named person scheme in October and December last year and in February this year.
Only one set of minutes was released and NO2NP has been angered by the decision of the Scottish Government to redact the names of every single person who attended the key meetings.
Ms Scott has now contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office which deals with FoI appeals seeking a review of this decision.
Senior social worker Maggie Mellon, former chair of the Scottish Child Law Centre, said: “The names of all present – including the chair – are all redacted. So much for open government. There is no way of identifying which agencies are providing wrong advice or whether the persons present represent their colleagues and agencies properly.
“Is it now so toxic to be associated with the named person scheme that people are not willing to have their names made known?”
She added: “These are presumably many of the same people who advised the government so badly first time round, that breaching confidentiality is ok even when any concerns fall well below the proper threshold. What is so important about this flawed scheme that it has to be pushed through?”
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert, said: “This proposed scheme was intrusive, incomprehensible and illegal. It still is, and continued implementation of it must cease. As must plans to continue its implementation in the future.
Around 250 people turned out for a NO2NP special event in Edinburgh on Monday in a major rally against the Named Person scheme. People travelled from all over, coming from Moray, the Borders, Perthshire, Dundee and even near Inverness!
Speakers at the John McIntyre Conference Centre included former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars, and prominent human rights QC Aidan O’Neill who successfully represented campaigners involved with NO2NP in court.
Journalist and commentator Kevin McKenna and NO2NP supporters Dr Stuart Waiton and Maggie Mellon also took to the podium.
Jim Sillars urged Deputy First Minister John Swinney to “do a Hammond” on the Named Person scheme and drop the plans.
He said: “My advice would be to do a Hammond. Last week the government at Westminster was in a hole. It had the brains to stop digging and my advice to this government is this isn’t going to work.
“This is going to be a punishment on you over the years ahead. Stop digging, get out the hole and abandon it.”
Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer who was behind the successful Named Person Supreme Court challenge, spoke about the judgment and its implications for families. He explained the law and why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did.
He said the Named Person legislation was written in a “vague language of aspiration when it should be talking specifically in terms of obligation” and that’s why the Supreme Court ruled that it was “not in accordance with law”.
He was then joined by two members of his legal team, Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen and Sam Webster, to answer questions from the audience about the judgment.
Journalist and commentator Kevin McKenna spoke about media reporting of the Named Person scheme and encouraged delegates to contact newspapers to tell their stories.
Speaking about the scheme he said: “My chief concern is that it will inevitably, even if inadvertently, target families who are encountering chronic social disadvantage”.
Independent social worker Maggie Mellon spoke about the culture and practice of children’s services on the ground. She said families had wanted a single point of contact for parents, but instead the Government had created in the Named Person scheme “a point of contact about parents”.
She added that the legislation had “made parents and families accountable to services, it didn’t in any way make services accountable to parents”.
Dr Stuart Waiton, sociology and criminology lecturer at Abertay University, said the Named Person scheme undermines families and the idea of privacy. He spoke about the influence of early intervention and how it was a key driver of the Named Person scheme.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert spoke about the breadth and success of the NO2NP campaign and encouraged supporters to get involved.
The event finished with a lively question and answer session with NO2NP stalwarts Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss joining the panel.
Lesley and Alison also featured in an exclusive video, where they shared their experience of being involved in the campaign and the challenges that lie ahead.
The audience also viewed a moving video featuring two parents telling their stories about the Named Person scheme and the traumatic effect it had on their families.
Delegates were also encouraged to take armfuls of a new NO2NP leaflet, Parents’ Guide to the Named Person Scheme, which was launched at the event.
On Monday this week, around 200 local residents from across Perth and Kinross attended a public meeting hosted by the Scottish Cabinet at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.
The purpose of the meeting was to enable local residents to air their concerns about issues affecting them so, since the Scottish Government’s imposition of a Named Person will affect every single family with children under 18 in Perth and Kinross (as well as the rest of Scotland), NO2NP volunteers were there to greet them.
The flyer that most people took summarises what the Supreme Court judgment achieved last July in stopping the unpopular legislation in its tracks. In a nutshell, the Named Person’s blanket powers to ‘grab and share’ data on families were unanimously struck down by the judges.
One gentleman had not heard of the campaign but as soon as he was told, he was enthusiastically in support of it. Another delegate’s outraged response at the scheme was another example of how angry people are at the imposition of such a scheme on every family in Scotland. Especially when it was never consulted on or requested by the vast majority of Scottish parents.
Even Deputy First Minister John Swinney took a leaflet – we hope it will remind him that he still needs to make his announcement on the future direction of revised Named Person legislation in light of the Supreme Court’s damning judgment.
There were lots of questions asked at the meeting and sadly there wasn’t time for everyone to ask their questions publicly. But, to their credit, the Cabinet met delegates over tea and coffee afterwards, and local NO2NP supporter Lesley Scott took this opportunity to ask the Deputy First Minister her question.
She wanted to know why the Scottish Government had not told Perth and Kinross Council to remove inaccurate data sharing guidance from their website, since they had removed it from their own. The Council made the excuse that the Scottish Government had not told them to remove it.
Mr Swinney argued that each local authority was an elected body that was autonomous in its decision-making – but Perth and Kinross Council don’t seem to think so…! “Does the Information Commissioner’s Office have the power to tell the Council to remove it?” Lesley then asked. The Deputy First Minister agreed to look into the matter, so we’ll be keeping an eye on developments.
In the meantime, preparations are well underway for a major NO2NP event in Edinburgh on Monday 20th March, so make a note in your diaries now – more details to follow soon!
A health board has agreed to remove a leaflet which could have led to unlawful data-sharing following the Named Person Supreme Court judgment.
The leaflet was spotted by a parent who contacted NO2NP stalwart Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust. She wrote to NHS Tayside to ask for the leaflet to be withdrawn.
Parents were being handed the leaflet at Accident and Emergency departments in the area.
“When you attend this department your own details or those of your child may be disclosed to other professionals, for example, School Nurse, Health Visitor, Social Work and GP. This follows the guidance from the Scottish Government.”
When the Supreme Court judges struck down the data-sharing provisions at the centre of the Named Person scheme, they ruled that routine sharing of confidential information breached the right to privacy.
Despite encouraging routine data-sharing, the Scottish Government has denied local authorities have acted unlawfully.
But as The Courier said in an editorial responding to this case:
“The Scottish Government has insisted the Supreme Court judgement ‘does not relate to current practice in relation to information sharing’. It had best keep its fingers crossed because NHS Tayside’s move casts doubt over this statement.”
Mrs Scott has called on the Deputy First Minister to review Named Person pilot schemes.
Chief Executive of NHS Tayside Lesley McLay responded to Mrs Scott’s concerns and agreed to withdraw the leaflet and review its data-sharing policy.
Mrs Scott said: “I am delighted NHS Tayside did the right thing. But many other health and local authorities may be operating similar schemes which have the potential to breach data protection laws.”
Commenting on the Deputy First Minister’s refusal to review Named Person pilot schemes, she said: “He has stubbornly maintained the named person pilot schemes currently operating across the country are unaffected by the ruling from the UK Supreme Court. The problem Mr Swinney has is that current practice includes those very elements that the UK Supreme Court found to be in breach of Article 8.”
Simon Calvert NO2NP spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has spent years encouraging a cavalier attitude to family privacy. Now they’ve been stopped in their tracks by the Supreme Court, it is really up to them to make sure all public bodies are revising their policies and practices to comply with the court ruling.”
If you’re a parent be vigilant and take note of leaflets and information you are being given by those working with your children. If they don’t refer to the Data Protection Act and Human Rights Act they may be encouraging unlawful sharing of your family’s personal information.
You can write to the relevant authority to ask for materials to be withdrawn or if you have questions about a leaflet, email a copy to email@example.com.
There was a great turnout at the Waterside Hotel, Peterhead on Monday night, as the NO2NP team rolled up to ‘The Blue Toon’ for their latest roadshow event.
We were delighted to welcome back a senior academic to share his own troubling experience of the highly invasive Named Person scheme.
The speaker, who wishes to remain anonymous, has undertaken academic research on the workings of the former USSR and he said it was “petrifying” to see the similarities between that and the Named Person scheme.
He explained how at a review meeting for his youngest child, the health visitor had mentioned in passing that they had a note that his son was depressed. She said this “must have been a mistake” in the “family record”, because the youngster was really happy. When he pressed her on what this family record was, he was told there were “daily notes”, which he found odd, as he had only met this health visitor twice. He discovered that the document was used to gather hearsay.
It took some persistence before he was finally allowed to see the record and to his alarm, he found it was a heavily redacted 60-page document. He was told the parts that had been scored out were “3rd party information”, i.e. people’s opinions about his family situation.
The authorities were clearly trying to make a case to intervene in his family with such routine issues as a blister on his child’s upper lip, nasal discharge and a nappy rash. The record will remain until his boys are 26.
“It’s very worrisome that interested and engaged parents have no way of finding out what’s happening to their families in terms of surveillance”.
He believes many health visitors don’t always want to be Named Persons, but have to in order to protect themselves and their jobs. He said he has huge respect for health professionals, but feels their time would be better spent on other things.
Despite all this, in an upbeat conclusion he said he has “great hopes” for the Supreme Court ruling and for local people standing up against this legislation.
Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust then took everyone through some of the tools used by practitioners for gathering information, including:
- Parental capacity to provide well-being assessment: a pre-birth assessment tool used by midwives to record the prospective parents’ capacity to provide their unborn child’s right to be safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.
- On the trail with the Wellbeing Snail: a board game for primary-aged children to teach them what the state’s concept of ‘good wellbeing’ looks like. The cards include such statements as “You told the teacher that you were sad because your friend was unkind to you, Go forward 2 spaces” and “You didn’t join the new after school fencing club, Go back 2 spaces.”
Lesley went on to highlight the uncomfortable fact that a wellbeing worry can be raised by anyone. Highland Council, who have run a pilot of the Named Person since 2007, illustrate this point by saying: “Concerns may be identified by the child or their family, by someone in the community, by the Named Person, or by a practitioner or clinician in ANY organisation, including adult focussed services and the police.”
Once that concern is raised the Named Person has a legal duty to then act to assess that child’s wellbeing needs.
She said there were more than 200 “risk indicators” which practitioners need to keep in mind, but they are told that “whilst comprehensive they do not seek to be exhaustive”. They include:
- Being under 5 years old
- Illness within the extended family
- Experience of bereavement, e.g. a pet
- Parental resistance or limited engagement
- The parent having a different perception of the problem
Lesley finished with the Grampian Practitioner’s Guide to Information Sharing, Confidentiality and Consent to Support Children and Young People’s Wellbeing’.
This states that the sharing of confidential information is lawful where disclosure is in the public interest; it then defines public interest as ‘protecting wellbeing’.
It also emphasises to practitioners that “Data protection does not prevent the sharing of information” and that they should “Record, record, record!” Is it any wonder that runny noses need 60-odd pages of ‘family record’ write-up?
Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute then gave an update on the judicial review at the Supreme Court, before suggesting some practical ways in which people could get involved with the campaign.
At the end a record number of people signed up to be volunteers! Some of them will be in Peterhead’s town centre tomorrow for our latest Action Day, so if you’re around do come and speak to them.
Crieff in West Perthshire was the latest stop for the NO2NP roadshow on Monday night and a good number turned out at the town’s Strathearn Artspace. (more…)
The Dean Suite of Kilmarnock’s Park Hotel was full on Wednesday night for the latest stop for the NO2NP Roadshow. We even had a journalist and photographer from a national newspaper turn up! Word about our roadshow events is certainly getting around.
After a video was shown from last week’s Question Time in Aberdeen (where the Named Person was discussed), community paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham gave the first talk. She said that a child’s wellbeing (something nowhere defined in the legislation) is going to be assessed and judged, not by parents, but by health visitors, teachers and social workers.
Jenny continued: “The assumption is that parents are incapable of ensuring their children are safe and healthy and happy – and incapable of accessing the various services without the assistance of a third party.” She also expressed her concern about information sharing with various agencies and third parties and the creation of a central database: “Who controls it? Who can access it? What will happen to all the information on it?”
She finished by saying that the Named Person scheme “undermines, not supports, parental authority. Parenting is not some formulaic prescription of right and wrong practices: it’s all about parents’ relationship with their children”.
Next up was Dr Gordon Macdonald, CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer. He explained the reasons behind NO2NP’s opposition to the Named Person scheme, which are really threefold. First, it’s universal in its nature – it’s not just for a few vulnerable children and there is no opt-out – and no opt-in either. Secondly, it’s about the nebulous concept of wellbeing, not welfare (which is defined in law as significant risk of harm or neglect). Wellbeing is much harder to define, indeed there is no definition of it in the Act. And the third reason is the widespread data sharing that will take place, for which there is no opt-out. Despite Nicola Sturgeon’s assurances that the scheme is not mandatory, the data sharing aspect will be universal and compulsory, with no consent required for the sharing of personal and sensitive information.
Gordon’s children’s school recently sent him a letter which said: “It is our practice to share information”, which is far removed from the legal requirement of “strict necessity” for such information sharing. If parents refuse to cooperate, then that itself becomes problematic. Gordon went on to say that the ideology behind the scheme is that children’s groups see children as being fully autonomous, when in fact they are not.
Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust then spoke about the fact that children and young people must show progress in the eight areas of wellbeing (SHANARRI) in order to be assessed as doing well now and in the future. But even supporters of this scheme cannot find the words to explain the concept at the heart of the Named Person. Lesley went on to say that “in East Ayrshire you are part of the AYRshare model for health and social care collaboration.
NHS Ayrshire and Arran along with North, East and South Ayrshire Councils have access to shared files which are created by practitioners based on a child’s NHS number. ‘At the push of a button’ practitioners can ‘push’ information on to AYRshare. Police are also on AYRshare and there has apparently been a successful test in Dalmellington involving GPs, pharmacy, health visitors and education – this trial is being extended to Loudon.”
Lesley had referred to a chronology of a child’s life that health visitors will use and this timeline of ‘significant events’ is one of the documents that will be shared through systems like AYRshare. “But what is a ‘significant event’?”, Lesley asked. She then produced another ‘non-exhaustive’ guide from the Government, which includes:
• Positive or negative changes in family circumstances, e.g. housing, birth of a sibling, emotional wellbeing
• Childhood illnesses
• Dates of immunisations and screenings
• Physical and mental health and wellbeing of child, parents/carers
• In Perth and Kinross, parental non-engagement is also classed as a significant event
In other words, she concluded, anything and everything will be logged – and shared.
After showing a video about the history of the NO2NP campaign, Nigel Kenny suggested some ways in which people could be involved, before Dr Stuart Waiton from Abertay University hosted an extended Q&A.
Several people signed up as volunteers and a local team will be in Kilmarnock’s town centre this Saturday for our latest Action Day. If you live in the area, please come and say hello to them!
Lesley Scott, Scottish Officer for Tymes Trust and a regular NO2NP Roadshow speaker, spends a lot of her time delving deep into the chaotic detail of Government documents. She shares some of her latest findings involving a curious change to the implementation of Named Persons and some guidance suggesting a compulsory plan for every child – not just parents who ask for it or children who are identified as vulnerable.
Back in December 2010 the Scottish Government produced ‘Practice Briefing 1: The role of the Named Person’. This was the first of eight Practice Briefings that were written “to help practitioners and managers put Getting it right for every child into practice in their agencies”.
This document states that “During pregnancy and the early period following birth, the child’s Named Person will be the midwife assigned to the family.”
This mirrors the established practice model in the GIRFEC Pathfinder trialled in Highland which has the midwife as the Named Person until the baby is ten days old. This ‘Highland Practice Model’ has formed the basis of the success claimed around the GIRFEC approach – claims which have been used to push forward this legislation.
But a document called “RCN briefing and survey: Scottish Government consultation on implementing the Named Person” from March 2015 has an interesting adjustment noted on page 5. It declares that the “The Health Board should identify the prospective Named Person for the baby, as soon as reasonably practical and not later than 28 weeks gestation. In the vast majority of cases, this should be the health visitor. This proposal has changed from the Scottish Government’s original intention that the Named Person should be the midwife…” [bold added]
The Highland Council and NHS Highland also brought out a document in March 2015 called “Guidelines for Maternity Services Getting it Right for Every Mother and Child” that reflected this change. The document states: “The premise of GIRFEC is focused on the needs of a child”. It expands that, however, “within a maternity context the approach can be used as a model which provides the same principles and tools that can reflect the needs and risks to a woman and her baby.” ‘Baby’ the document clarifies, “includes an unborn baby during the antenatal and intranatal periods”.
The document notes that the Highland Practice Model “requires that each child should have a plan which considers their health and wellbeing” [bold added] and that this ‘plan’ is “developed by the named person…” This would seem to contradict claims that the Named Person will only advise and support those parents/children who ask for it – rather there is a requirement for each child to have a child’s plan which means state intervention to some degree. Further to that, the document then says that the “aim in Scotland … is for each pregnant woman to have a named midwife…” It then states that “the named midwife in Highland is able to undertake a named person role if required during pregnancy…” thereby seeking to draw a distinction between the ‘named midwife’ role and that of a ‘Named Person.’ Except – the document then goes into the detail of the duties of the ‘named midwife’, which look to be identical to those of a Named Person.
A ‘named midwife’, the document explains, is “responsible for undertaking risk assessment at each contact and ensuring each woman follows the correct [state-approved] pathway of care” through the application of the same GIRFEC ‘tools’ as the Named Person uses. When considering if additional support is needed, the ‘named midwife’ must ask themselves the same 5 GIRFEC questions as the Named Person and “If any concerns are raised by any other agency or service that has contact with the mother, which may have the potential to affect the wellbeing of her and her baby” then they are required to share these worries with the ‘named midwife’ – just as these agencies and services are required to share any worries with the Named Person.
If a wellbeing need is identified by the ‘named midwife’ through the assessment process they initiate an ‘Antenatal Plan: additional support for mother and unborn baby’ just as the Named Person initiates a ‘child’s plan’.
There is no difference between the duties and responsibilities of the ‘named midwife’ and those of the Named Person.
Local authorities and even the Scottish Government itself still have information for families online that cites the midwife as the Named Person until the baby is ten days old. Yet the shifting sand under the Named Person legislation has moved once more; and once more, families are left to guess at the truth.
Whether they are known as ‘named midwives’ or ‘Named Persons’, they are required to be agents of the SHANARRI/GIRFEC agenda.
An agenda that will erode and irreparably damage the trust between families and all who undertake to perform such duties on behalf of the state.
Tymes Trust Scottish Officer
The NO2NP Roadshow team has been really busy over the past week or so, clocking up three events in eight days (plus a great Action Day in between – more about that later in the week!). We’ve been responding to demand from various parts of the country to hold roadshow events in their area, so here’s a taste of what happened at these three venues:-
Their first stop was the picturesque Borders town of Melrose on Monday night last week, when a good number of locals turned up to hear from the team.
Gordon Macdonald, Parliamentary Officer for CARE for Scotland, spoke about the reasons for the NO2NP campaign and referred to comments made online by Jim Terras, a Scottish Borders Council Training and Development Officer for Child Protection. Terras had remarked that he didn’t think the Government should be basing their opinions on the views of “fringe groups” opposed to the Named Person scheme, “who don’t really represent the general public”.
Gordon went on to point out that in a recent ComRes Poll, 64% of the Scots polled considered that the scheme was “unduly intrusive” into family life and 80% considered that the focus of child protection resources should be on truly vulnerable children and not every child.
We were then delighted to welcome Professor John Raven from Edinburgh to speak about his 50 years of academic experience in the areas of family, education and sociology. He said that parents are children’s most important educators in terms of instilling all the most important values in life, so having a Named Person to dictate what this should look like was quite wrong.
One of the things the Professor had noticed over his long career was the deprofessionalization of teachers, doctors and social workers by Government, who have increasingly imposed their own agenda on these professions. And now even parenting has been “deprofessionalized” under this scheme – in line with what is happening across society.
There was a lively Q&A, during which one mum asked the moving question: “Do the same people who failed my children so abysmally now think they can tell me they know better?”
The team’s next stop was Broughty Ferry last Friday to address a packed meeting at the town’s YMCA.
The meeting was chaired by Dr Stuart Waiton, a Sociology lecturer from Abertay University, who recently said that Tayside had some of the strongest opposition to the Named Person scheme. The passionate audience certainly had plenty to say, with one lady asking “What about the really vulnerable children? What will happen to them? They’ll go right down the list and be lost in the process!”
Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust set out how the Universal Health Visiting Pathway, due to be introduced on 31 August, will be a massive invasion of privacy for every young family in Scotland. A huge amount of sensitive information will be shared about their personal details, all intended to “promote, support and safeguard” the wellbeing of every child. However, the term “wellbeing” is nowhere defined in either the legislation or the guidance. This point was made in a video clip Lesley showed from a Holyrood debate last year, where an MSP in favour of Named Persons refused to answer a question about the definition of wellbeing, but instead ridiculed his colleague for asking the question.
Lesley finished by saying: “Intervention is no longer about whether a child is at risk of significant harm, but rather whether the child is progressing in a manner the state regards as acceptable towards meeting outcomes set by the state.”
Alison Preuss from the Scottish Home Education Forum spoke about her background in elective home education and her experience in challenging breach of privacy law in various government schemes over the years.
She made reference to the GIRFEC Cluedo article that appeared in the press recently. The aim of the game (used in training) is to get professionals to determine parents’ capacity to provide “wellbeing” by data mining without consent “at even the lowest level of concern”, as opposed to on child protection grounds. Alison went on: “Privacy is being systematically demolished on the basis of mere suspicion, allowing the state to call up a single view of any citizen at the click of a mouse, to more easily identify those of us in need of remediation”.
Then on Monday this week, the team traveled south to Castle Douglas, at the heart of scenic Dumfries and Galloway. The Christian Institute’s Nigel Kenny explained that one of the ways the Scottish Government planned to ‘teach’ young children the principles of “wellbeing” was by way of a snakes and ladders type game called On the Trail with the Wellbeing Snail.
When Nigel explained that one of the cards for the game said that if you did not join the new after-school fencing club, you had to move back two spaces, one member of the audience asked us if we were making this up?! Not so, sadly. Others from the team mentioned the SHANARRI song and the GIRFEC Cluedo tool referred to earlier. The audience couldn’t believe that this was really happening! Nigel also pointed out that every named person would have to watch out for 222 risk indicators in each child or young person under their watch, which included: being under 5 years old, limited engagement by the parents and the parent having a different perception of the problem!
Alison Preuss said the acronym GIRFEC should really stand for Getting Information Recorded for Every Citizen. She pointed out that the principle of Named Persons was about being able to share sensitive data without the consent or even knowledge of the parents.
She highlighted datasharing concerns raised by a former UK Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas CBE, about an abandoned scheme similar to Named Persons, called ContactPoint. He said: “There are reasons why we need to promote better information sharing where children are at risk of harm, but whether the answer is to database every child in the country should be seriously questioned.”
Alison finished by quoting former US President Lyndon B Johnson, who once said: “You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.” The Scottish Government failed to observe this principle, but NO2NP has been holding them to account throughout our campaign, highlighting the numerous problems with the legislation.
The NO2NP Team will be in Coatbridge on Wednesday next week. If you can join us, we look forward to meeting you!
There was a packed gathering in Aberdeen on Monday night for the latest stop of the NO2NP Roadshow. Folk from a wide range of backgrounds came to hear our panel share their concerns about the invasive Named Person scheme.
The opening speaker, an academic who wishes to remain anonymous, pointed out parallels between the desire of socialist states to control society, with the Named Person scheme and its all-encompassing influence over every aspect of family life. He said while the Named Person scheme was intended to catch the bad parents, the effect will be that everyone will actually be trapped by it.
The speaker spoke movingly of his own family’s experience at the hands of proto-Named Persons who had misunderstood issues with his own children, leading him to submit a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act to see what had been recorded about his children. He was shocked to discover a 60-page document and even more appalled to find that huge swathes of it had been redacted – blotted out in black, because allegedly these issues did not relate to him or his children!
He also spoke about the weaknesses of the complaints procedure, something that the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman has recently expressed concerns about too. He found that his complaint had only resulted in the conclusion that “professionals are entitled to make professional judgments” and his only recourse now would be to go to judicial review, something his solicitor said would cost him at least £15,000!
The speaker also expressed his concern for the health and teaching professionals who will be landed with this huge responsibility, with their careers on the line should anything go wrong on their watch. “They’re not trained to be police detectives”, he remarked, concluding that he hoped the NO2NP campaign would relieve these professionals of their anxiety by securing an end to the scheme!
Next up was Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust, who said that the Named Person legislation had introduced an “authoritarian and illiberal scheme”, which “poses a considerable threat to family autonomy.” Lesley went on to talk about the National Practice Model, which is the GIRFEC ‘toolkit’. It is used to assess the ‘wellbeing’ of every child in Scotland and enables practitioners to investigate and assess all associated adults.
However, no one is quite sure what ‘wellbeing’ really means. This was highlighted in a debate in the Scottish Parliament in December last year, when MSP Alex Johnstone asked SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell if he could define wellbeing. Lesley played a video of the exchange, during which Mr Maxwell berated Mr Johnstone for asking such a “ridiculous” question – yet he still wasn’t able to answer it!
Lesley went on to explain that the “wellbeing wheel” was based on the eight SHANARRI indicators, and it also had some 304 “outcome signifiers”. She went on to highlight the complete vagueness of what constituted a “wellbeing concern”, which the Government’s guidance says can be “any matter…arising from any factor”. Lesley then explained how a child’s life is mapped out using such tools as the My World Triangle, the Resilience-Vulnerability Matrix and the three-staged National Risk Framework, where 222 “risk indicators” include: being under 5 years old, illness within the extended family, experience of bereavement, parental resistance or limited engagement, or the parent having a different perception of the problem. Lesley concluded by saying: “This GIRFEC legislation is founded on universal suspicion. It pours doubt upon parents and families, eroding the autonomy and uniqueness of family life. In short, it relegates parents to little more than the registered keepers of their own children.”
Alison Preuss of the Scottish Home Educators Forum then showed a video of Maureen Falconer of the Information Commissioner’s Office, explaining in a tutorial before the legislation had been passed that the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill would “lower the trigger” not only for sharing information (down from “risk of significant harm” to “any wellbeing concern”) but also for child protection-like intervention. Alison suggested that Maureen seemed to put “sharing before caring”, in other words sharing data about families whenever Named Persons deemed it “appropriate”. This has been made possible because the Scottish Government passed ‘enabling’ legislation to make it legal to bypass the reserved UK-wide Data Protection Act, but only north of the border, “where children are apparently at disproportionate risk from their parents”, she said. Alison continued: “by lowering the threshold for state interference, every child and family member will be compulsorily databased and profiled so that dissenters can be easily identified and suitably ‘remediated’.” She went on: “The fact is that GIRFEC leaves Scots citizens with less legal protection than their counterparts in the rest of the UK when it comes to the use of their personal information.”
Alison held up a copy of the Mail on Sunday, which carried a major story in both its UK and Scottish editions about the covert psychological profiling of pupils in our schools and even nurseries. When she last looked, it had been shared 4300 times and there has been wall to wall outrage on social media.
Alison concluded by telling those gathered: “You should be aware that your children’s most personal thoughts and feelings are being interrogated in classrooms in the guise of ‘resilience testing’ without your knowledge, let alone consent.
Messing with young minds should not be the remit of school teachers, but has become routine with the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence which, not very coincidentally, shares the same “well-behaving” outcomes as GIRFEC. Children are being moulded into compliant citizens who can be more easily micro-managed through life. Any dissent will be quickly identified and quashed by a series of interventions to get them back on to their state approved path of ‘getting it right’-eousness”.
Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute then reminded the audience that our judicial review is due to be heard in the Supreme Court next Tuesday and Wednesday and, if successful, would “strike down” the legislation and nullify it before it comes into force in August. But the legal challenge is only one part of the campaign – the other part is grassroots public opposition to the unpopular scheme to let the Scottish Government know that its citizens are saying “NO to Named Persons” across the country. Several people signed up as volunteers, many of them committing themselves to join us on Saturday morning for our Action Day in the city centre. If you are free to help us raise the campaign’s profile in the Granite City, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest stop for the NO2NP Roadshow on Tuesday night was the Pitbauchlie House Hotel in Dunfermline, where a good number of local folk came out to listen to our panel of speakers share their concerns about the scheme.
Fresh from a Holyrood debate, Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Liz Smith opened the evening’s talks by saying that she has never had as large a mailbag in her time as an MSP than on this issue. She said her opposition to the scheme was based on two fundamental objections: firstly, it is quite simply wrong to undermine parents with a universal scheme like this; and secondly, the fact that it will inevitably take away scarce resources from truly vulnerable children is quite simply inexcusable. The expense of the scheme across Scotland will be huge, she continued, and added that “the more people learn what is being demanded of families, the more they are in open rebellion against it.”
Liz then explained the passage of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill through Parliament and, while she had proposed around 40 amendments to it, Labour MSPs only supported her amendment to reduce the upper age limit for Named Persons from 18 down to 16. The SNP had whipped their MSPs to vote against all amendments, so they narrowly defeated that particular amendment by their Parliamentary majority. Despite having enthusiastically voted for the Named Person scheme, the MSPs in favour of it have now “gone very quiet”, she said.
The full extent of its reach into families is only now becoming apparent, as schools and health visitors are starting to explain its ramifications. Liz finished by saying that the scheme was “dangerous, really dangerous” and urged everyone to spread the message of the NO2NP campaign as much as they could.
Next up was Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust, who said there seemed to be some confusion in the minds of the judges who heard the appeal of our Judicial Review last September. They had said in their judgment that ‘A Named Person is not assigned to a child or young person as such but “made available, in relation to” him or her.’ This statement, Lesley explained, carries the inference that the Named Person “provision” represents one-way traffic, that it is always parents and families who will approach the Named Person for assistance and support if they need it; however, during a discussion about the scheme on Radio Scotland’s Kaye Adams Programme last October, a teacher who is already a Named Person in Highland stated that “absolutely” she can “be pro-active” and go to each family. When challenged about what she would do if a family did not want her involvement, she replied “then it would be my job to convince them that I’m there to help, that we were working together as a unit.”
Lesley went on to say that, while there is no accepted, universally used definition of ‘wellbeing’, if the Named Person’s statutory duties hinge upon assessing it, questions must arise over which definition will be used in practice. She then showed a video clip of an exchange in a recent Holyrood debate, where SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell was challenged to define ‘wellbeing’, but simply ridiculed the question and did not give any kind of answer!
To highlight the difficulty, Lesley said that “researchers in the field of ‘wellbeing’ concede that ‘it is a contested concept’ with ‘a wide variety of definitions’”. Yet, she went on, wellbeing is now the ‘measure’ by which we are all being judged and if found wanting we “can expect intervention from the state.”
Gordon Macdonald from CARE then summarised the campaign’s three main objections to the Named Person scheme: it is universal and not in any way either optional or focussed on truly vulnerable children; the concepts of welfare and wellbeing are conflated, so that the scheme is about far more than identifying and helping vulnerable children; and the current threshold for sharing data without consent has been lowered from “strictly necessary” to “appropriate to fulfil the Named Person’s responsibilities”.
Gordon went on to explain how the legislation had been an attempt to enshrine the principles of the United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), but that this had been done in a very selective way that omitted reference to the importance of parents and families for a child’s wellbeing.
Gordon went on to say that the fact the final Bill had been a joining of a children’s services bill and a children’s rights bill was reflected in things like the SHANARRI indicators, where child protection issues (Safe, Healthy) were conflated with children’s rights issues (Respected, Included) and general wellbeing issues (Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Responsible).
Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute then shared some practical points, before an in depth Q&A, where mothers in the audience expressed outrage that this was happening and that parents were basically being kept in the dark about the true nature of the intrusive scheme. Several people signed up to be volunteers and we already have commitments to deliver thousands of NO2NP flyers around Dunfermline to get the message out. Thanks to everyone for helping us in this way!
Some of these volunteers will be in Dunfermline town centre this Saturday to encourage local folk to sign the online petition – if you live in the area and would like to join them, get in touch with us on email@example.com
A big thank you to all those who braved Storm Henry to come to the latest NO2NP roadshow event in Falkirk on Monday night!
After Dr Stuart Waiton welcomed everyone, community paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham contended that children’s rights should not trump parents’ rights. “Parents are fully autonomous beings,” she said, “able to make their own decisions, while children are not. The principle of parental autonomy is fundamental to a democratic society.”
She went on to say that, far from respecting this parental autonomy, in recent years, social policy has seen parenting as “deficient” or “problematic” and there is a widespread consensus that the state has to intervene to address it.
Jenny emphasised that “there’s a world of difference between parental behaviour that puts children at risk of significant harm” and parenting that doesn’t fit the Government’s expectations.
She said that “everything has been ‘GIRFEC’ed” [GIRFEC is the Government’s Getting It Right For Every Child framework] throughout health, education and social work. The legislation obligates all professionals to identify deficiencies in children’s lives and make decisions about whether their wellbeing is threatened and this is clearly seen in the new Universal Health Visiting Pathway, which will be introduced this August.
Jenny finished by saying that parenting isn’t a tick box list to be assessed by the state but a relationship between parent and child that grows at its own pace, as we are all individuals.
Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust then spoke about the recent decision of the Inner House of the Court of Session to reject our legal challenge. She quoted their use of the word “welfare” to describe the purpose of the legislation and showed how it is not interchangeable with “wellbeing”, but fundamentally different.
The Scottish Government has made this clear in their final statutory guidance, which states that “welfare and wellbeing are different, in that wellbeing is a broader, more holistic concept.” Even First Minister Nicola Sturgeon seems to be unsure about the purpose of the legislation, as she has said it is “about making sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect vulnerable children”. So, is it about child protection or children’s wellbeing?
On further scrutiny of the guidance, Lesley argued, there is “a dangerous conflation of the two [ideas]”, with the Information Commissioner’s Office conceding that there was a “lowering of the trigger” for data sharing from risk of “significant harm” to threat to “wellbeing”. This is confirmed in the guidance, which states that “a series of low level indicators of wellbeing need (whether obviously related or not) taken together can amount to a child protection issue”.
Lesley went on to point out, chillingly, that the guidance “is clear on the ability of Named Persons to use compulsion against parents and families who show any degree of non-engagement, non-compliance or mere ambivalence in the face of state functionaries’ opinions”. She went on to refer to sinister “compulsory supervision orders” which the guidance encourages Named Persons to use “at an early stage…to ensure compliance”.
After a short video, CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer Gordon Macdonald, gave an overview of the passage of the Bill through Holyrood, stressing that it was really only children’s charities that were consulted and many of them tend to view families as potential problems. No consideration was given to religious liberty during the one morning given over to scrutinising the Bill, whose terms were applauded by the majority of the agencies invited to the session.
As a result, CARE and others involved in the NO2NP campaign, had no option but to go to court to seek to have the legislation overturned. Gordon suggested that the Court of Session had taken a “very optimistic view” of the legislation, but we were going to the Supreme Court in March and would, if necessary, go on to Strasbourg and Luxembourg, as the matter is so important.
Gordon concluded that there is a real risk of the scheme being operated in a “totalitarian” way, because individual children’s rights are being viewed in isolation from – and at times in opposition to – their relationship with their parents.
After some practical points were shared, there was an in depth Q&A, which brought out further revelations about the scheme, including that “wellbeing” was sometimes seen as whether children had sufficient “hope, love and spirituality” in their lives!
A dedicated group of volunteers will be in Falkirk’s High Street on Saturday morning for our latest Action Day, handing out flyers to shoppers and encouraging them to sign the online petition – if you are free to join us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The large Salisbury Suite at the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel in Edinburgh was nearly filled to capacity on Tuesday morning for the first NO2NP Roadshow event since the summer break.
Dr Stuart Waiton of Abertay University in Dundee opened the meeting by saying that the autonomy of the family was being undermined by social policy across the board, with an overemphasis on “early intervention” by professionals to sort out children’s problems.
Liz Smith MSP then spoke about the huge mailbag she had received from people concerned about the scheme, which she says destroys the trust between families and professionals that is essential in bringing up a child.
She said that the scheme was “repugnant” and a “badly mistaken policy” that “diminishes resources”. The volume of support for the NO2NP campaign is growing all the time, with almost 12,000 people having now signed the petition. The appeal of the campaign “goes well beyond party politics” and the breadth of political views of those involved in it was “a good thing”.
She also pointed out that the bureaucracy of running the scheme would be enormous and too difficult to put into practice. The scheme has been “mis-sold” by the Government and the responses that concerned citizens have received have been “inaccurate” and “patronising”, she said. The Government, who are telling people how to live their lives, has not been shown in a good light, she added. In closing, Liz urged people to get involved, as it is “such an important campaign”.
Next up was Lesley Scott, Scottish representative for The Young ME Sufferers (TYMES) Trust.
She picked apart the three main arguments that have been used by the Scottish Government to justify the scheme:
1. “We’re doing all we can to help vulnerable children”
2. “We’re just formalising what we’ve been doing for ages”
3. “And Parents have asked for it.”
Lesley pointed out, firstly, that the word “vulnerable” does not appear anywhere in the legislation or the Government’s guidance and that their own QC admitted in the recent appeal case heard in the Inner House that every child is seen as potentially vulnerable. The corollary of this is that every parent is therefore viewed as potentially negligent or abusive. This will have a significant impact on how parents will be viewed and treated. If children, parents and associated adults do not agree with all of the Named Person’s views, then they will be treated as “non-engaging”: the balance has shifted dangerously in favour of the state.
The next argument – that local authorities are simply formalising what they have already been doing – has not been reflected in the attitudes of the professionals tasked with administering it, only a minority of whom think they currently have the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of how to provide it.
And the contention that parents asked for the scheme is misleading at best, as parents with disabled children in the Highland region asked for a single, voluntary point of contact for accessing services. But that is not what they have got with the legislation and any success in the Highland Pathfinder has been shown to be down to other causes than the GIRFEC approach.
Lesley concluded by saying that the Government’s “disjointed excuses are shown to be a smokescreen and the true purpose of the legislation comes into view; it is a transfer of authority from your family to the state – an assault on the autonomous family unit”.
After a compelling new campaign video was shown, independent social work consultant Maggie Mellon spoke about her opposition to the scheme. She said that “parents are responsible for children’s upbringing, not services”, and that it is a very easy thing for professionals to display prejudice, when they don’t have the full picture. Civil servants have driven through this legislation but they haven’t thought through how dangerous it will be. People thought that they were getting a single point of contact, but that’s not what the legislation says. It doesn’t give parents or children the right to be consulted, as the Named Person is to take action “where he or she considers it to be appropriate to promote, support or safeguard the wellbeing of the child or young person”.
Commenting on the enormity of the universal scheme, Maggie remarked that “you can’t get all the sand on the beach through a little sieve”. A head teacher of a primary school isn’t going to have the time or the knowledge to explain your child’s needs to a range of professionals. Maggie said that she is against the Named Person scheme because “it’s wrong and it will cause damage”.
She said we should use the threat of compulsion far less than we do. She commented: “There’s too much compulsion and not enough compassion”. The Act moves the threshold from “at risk of significant harm” to “any concern about anything that might present a risk to a child’s wellbeing”. Instead of addressing the real needs of children, it is sinister surveillance. It’s not a point of contact for families to access services, she said, but a point for those services to access children. It’s as if the state is saying “We’re central, you’re peripheral”.
Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute finished the formal session by taking everyone through the Action Packs that had been prepared for the meeting, before the usual lively Q&A finished off the meeting.
The next stop for the NO2NP Roadshow will be Glasgow on Monday 14th September at the Couper Institute, 86 Clarkston Road at 7.30pm – hope to see you there!
Pressure has been mounting on the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme this week, with a succession of media stories reporting serious concerns about the plans.
Teachers worry about increased workload as named person for pupils
Herald Scotland, 03 July 2015
Minister falters over SNP “state snoopers” plan
Scottish Daily Mail, 03 July 2015
Child plan could make risk harder to spot, police warn
The Times, 03 July 2015
Scottish Government under pressure over ‘state guardian’ plan
Scottish Daily Telegraph, 02 July 2015
Ken Macintosh demands review of Named Person plans
The Scotsman, 02 July 2015
Police Scotland criticise SNP Named Person plans
The Scotsman, 02 July 2015
Outrage over £100k PR bill to promote ‘state snoopers’
Scottish Daily Mail, 01 July 2015
Confusion over plans to appoint ‘named person’ for every child in Scotland
Herald Scotland, 01 July 2015
Herald View — Getting it right for youngsters
Herald Scotland, 01 July 2015
Named person plans clarity sought
Press and Journal, 01 July 2015
Listen: Callers flood BBC with opposition to Named Person plans
No2NP, 03 July 2015
The Arran Suite at the Holiday Inn, East Kilbride, was filled to capacity for the latest NO2NP Roadshow event before the summer break.
Community paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham told those gathered that concerns about the scheme were far more than questioning a different health model or budgeting constraints: it is about scrutinising families and undermining parental autonomy, which is the basis for a democratic society, she said.
She went on to explain that the role of the community paediatrician has been redefined by this legislation. While previously 80% of her work was about various disabilities in children, and only 20% about vulnerable children, now 70-80% of her work has to do with assessing vulnerability through the SHANARRI ‘wellbeing’ indicators.
SHANARRI stands for; safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.
She finished by saying that she and many of her colleagues were very concerned about the new obligation to share confidential information.
Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who said she had watched a video on South Lanarkshire Council’s website about young children and the importance of good attachment. Yet nothing was said about parents and children or families.
Lesley went on to explain – and display – the 13 pages of “outcome signifiers” to wellbeing that the University of Edinburgh had drawn up. South Lanarkshire Council had also produced 398 pages of guidance for named persons and Lesley queried whether everyone would interpret it the same way. The guidance estimates that 20-30% of children and young people will require additional input from state agencies.
Lesley expressed her concern that there is no facility for parents or children to disagree with the Named Person’s professional assessment of what is “needed” and parents will have no control over the ever-changing standard of parenting to which they will be held.
There was a very lively and extended Q&A, where several people questioned whether Named Persons knew anything about the real world of parenting, especially when some of them may have no children of their own.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be taking a break for a few weeks over the summer, but do watch out for further events we have planned for later in the year!
In the meantime, a big thank you to everyone who has come to these Roadshows – please continue to tell your friends about the campaign and encourage them to sign the petition.
During a BBC Radio Scotland debate last week Lesley Scott of ME children’s charity TYMES Trust, a supporter of NO2NP, warned that the Scottish Government’s plan was about “empowering the Named Person to police the happiness of Scottish children”.
Scott was debating Alex Cole-Hamilton, Head of Policy at children’s charity Aberlour and a proponent of the Named Person scheme. Cole-Hamilton failed to give a single example of how the Named Person scheme had made a positive impact when pressed by BBC presenter Kaye Adams.
Adams asked Cole-Hamilton: “What was happening that made anyone feel that this was necessary? Where was the gap? Where was the lack?”
Referring to the Highlands pilot he responded saying there had been “some really good examples of this drawing the threads together”.
Adams however said drawing the threads together was an “airy fairy expression” and asked for further clarification.
She pressed Cole-Hamilton again, saying: “Give me a positive example of where this has made a child or a family’s life better?
Cole-Hamilton again failed to provide a single example, but instead admitted it was about “prevention”.
He said: “I don’t have specific case examples to give you because this is all about prevention.”
Listen to the full exchange from 7 minutes 10 seconds
TYMES Trust’s Lesley Scott refuted Cole-Hamilton’s claims about the Named Person creating a single point of contact. She said parents already know who they need to go to if there is a problem, they already know who their child’s teacher, GP or health visitor is. These are all people who are already in place, she added.
Scott explained that the Named Person can access and share confidential medical data and school records. She continued: “They can question a child and give them advice, and supply services to them without the parents’ consent, and on the basis of what they think is most likely to make them happy”.
Scott also pointed out that the scheme was not about identifying significant risk or harm but about wellbeing, which is “a lower, broader undefined threshold”.
Scott also questioned how the scheme will work in practice. She raised concerns about the “enormous bureaucratic burden of the Named person” scheme on teachers and health visitors, who would be expected to administer the scheme, professions which she says are already at breaking point.
She said looking for children at risk is like looking for a needle in a haystack but all the Named Person scheme is doing is making the haystack bigger.
On Saturday NO2NP officially launched its online petition to oppose the Scottish Government’s Named Person scheme. Volunteers took to the streets of Dundee to help raise awareness of the campaign by giving out leaflets to the public and gathering signatures for the petition.
A team of volunteers were also out in Kirkintilloch, the constituency of the Minister for Children and Young People.
The petition doubled in size over the launch weekend, and now has more than 4,500 signatures. Sign and share the petition here.
The Action Day and petition launch comes ahead of the appeal hearing by campaigners opposing the Named Person scheme, due to be heard in the Court of Session this Wednesday and Thursday.
A spokesman for NO2NP said: “We remain deeply concerned about the threats to the human rights of families to their privacy in their own homes as well as the breaches of data protection laws as the state passes confidential family information to and from different public bodies.
“The state thinks the named person – a health visitor, a teacher or other professional – can fulfil the role better than mums and dads which is ridiculous.
“It’s vitally important that the higher courts consider this issue, because it’s driving a coach and horses through parents’ rights and private family life.”
NO2NP Action Day: Dundee and Kirkintilloch, Saturday 30th May.
Falkirk was the latest stop for the NO2NP Roadshow last night, when local supporters of the campaign were given the lowdown on the state guardian scheme.
Dr Stuart Waiton from Abertay University explained some of the key developments in social policy over the last 15 years in relation to child welfare. The concepts of abuse, vulnerability and early intervention have become deeply embedded in the minds of many strategists and there is a feeling that parents cannot advise their children properly without first receiving advice from professionals. This is known as “third way parenting”.
Lesley Scott, from TYMES Trust, pointed out that contrary to the contentions of Acting Minister for Children and Young People, Fiona McLeod, parents across the country did not ask for the Named Person scheme. Lesley went on to explain how the Scottish Government’s pilot of the scheme in the Highlands led to nearly 8,000 children (1 in 5) being put on a “child’s plan”.
During a lively Q&A session it was asked if teachers could opt out of being Named Persons. This was a very significant change in the terms and conditions of their employment, yet some of the teaching unions have yet to indicate their detailed views on this matter.
The Roadshow will be calling at the Elmwood Golf Club, Cupar at 7.30pm on Tuesday next week, when MSP Liz Smith hopes to be one of the speakers – do plan to join us, if you live in the area!
The campaign saw strong support in Elgin last night as concerned parents and individuals, with some traveling quite a distance, turned out for the latest NO2NP Roadshow.
Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute explained that the campaign was made up of a broad coalition of organisations and individuals from academia, charities, education, medicine, politics and social work. He said all those involved have a shared concern for the importance and autonomy of the family in raising the next generation.
Videos were shown, the first explaining the background to the campaign, and the second from First Minister’s Questions last week, when NO2NP supporter Liz Smith MSP challenged Nicola Sturgeon over Clan (Community Law Advice Network) Childlaw’s concerns about data sharing.
Lesley Scott from Tymes Trust then spoke about the blueprint for every child’s life that has been planned under the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) model, including the Wellbeing Wheel, the My World Triangle and the Resilience Matrix. She pointed out that Edinburgh University had identified no fewer than 304 outcomes that could arise from the SHANARRI “wellbeing” indicators.
Nigel finished off the talks with an update on the judicial review appeal (due to be heard in Edinburgh on 3rd and 4th June) and some tips on how people can get involved with the campaign.
There was a lively and extended Q&A at the end, where people expressed their deep concerns about the negative impact that the scheme will have on families, schools and society at large.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be stopping off at Falkirk next on Wednesday 27th May, when we’ll be at the Best Western Park Hotel in Camelon Road at 7.30pm. Hope to see you there if you live in and around the area!
Thank you to everyone who came to the NO2NP roadshow meeting in Dingwall Town Hall last Wednesday (4 March).
A large crowd heard Lesley Scott (Tymes Trust) explain that the named person role has expanded beyond the idea of a single point of contact and usurps the natural rights of parents. She warned that the named person has lowered the threshold for intervention based on the ‘SHANARRI’ indicators and branded the scheme as “state mandated parenting” and an oppressive intrusion into family life.
The crowd also heard from Alison Preuss (Schoolhouse) who noted that the Isle of Man abandoned a similar scheme after a melt-down in social work, She said it was a scandal that resources were being diverted into a universal scheme.
On Monday 23 March the NO2NP roadshow returns to Glasgow for a meeting at the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel in the West End where the audience will hear from Dr Stuart Waiton (Abertay Univeristy) and various others. The meeting will start at 7:30pm and is free and open to all. We hope to see you there.
Last night (26 Feb) the NO2NP roadshow visited Cumbernauld. The event was chaired by Dundee-based sociologist, Dr Stuart Waiton, who spoke about the spiralling bureaucracy in health and safety.
The first speaker was community paediatrician, Dr Jennifer Cunningham, who explained the ‘SHANARRI’ wellbeing indicators. She noted that vulnerability had been widened considerably, with factors such as inactivity, poor nurturing and irresponsibility being examined, rather than simply abuse or neglect. She said many parents were losing confidence in their ability to raise children.
Next up was Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, representing families of young ME sufferers. She examined the wellbeing indicators in more detail, and emphasised that there was no opt out from the named person. She voiced concern that non-engagement will lead to further interventions and said the scheme was state-mandated parenting.
The next NO2NP roadshow will be in Dingwall Town Hall on Wednesday 4th March at 7:30pm. Speakers will include Alison Preuss of Schoolhouse and Lesley Scott. Hope to see you there – all are very welcome.
Dr Stuart Waiton (Abertay University) was in the chair for a very well attended NO2NP roadshow at the Carnegie Conference Centre, Dunfermline on Wednesday 11 February.
Dr Waiton reiterated his view that child safety policy isn’t rational and that it is spiralling out of control. He described the potential for intervention as “astronomical”.
The first speaker was prominent NO2NP supporter, Liz Smith, who is an MSP for Mid Scotland & Fife. She explained her two fundamental objections to the named person scheme. First, the lack of trust in families and the fact that parents don’t want someone to tell them what to do. Second, that the focus of resources must be the vulnerable children who need help, not a universal service. She said that the legislation is “wrong” and the named person scheme is “unworkable”.
Next up was Lesley Scott, spokesperson for Tymes (Young ME sufferers) Trust – one of the organisations behind the recent judicial review of the legislation. She noted that the named person scheme is universal with no opt-out.
The next NO2NP roadshow takes place in CUMBERNAULD (Westerwood Hotel) on Thursday 26 February at 7:30pm. Speakers will include community paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham and Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust.
Many thanks to all who attended the latest and well-attended NO2NP roadshow in Greenock last Thursday (5 February), which was the second of six meetings already planned for this year.
The main speaker was Lesley Scott of Tymes (Young ME Sufferers) Trust. Lesley cited fears that non-engagement with the named person scheme could lead to further intervention and child protection action. She explained that the scheme puts the authority of the state ahead of parents and families, and said that the intervention threshold has been lowered.
The next stop for the roadshow is the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline this coming Wednesday (11 Feb) at 7:30pm. Speakers will include Dr Stuart Waiton (Abertay University) and Liz Smith MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife).We hope to see you there.
For a full list of forthcoming (and previous) roadshows, see below:
GLASGOW (WEST END) – 23 March 2015
DINGWALL – 4 March 2015
CUMBERNAULD – 26 February 2015
DUNFERMLINE – 11 February 2015
GREENOCK – 5 February 2015
LIVINGSTON – 21 January 2015
MONTROSE – 26 November 2014
PERTH – 12 November 2014
IRVINE – 23 October 2014
ABERDEEN – 15 October 2014
INVERNESS – 1 October 2014
STIRLING – 29 August 2014
DUNDEE – 27 August 2014
GLASGOW – 21 August 2014
EDINBURGH – 9 June 2014 (CAMPAIGN LAUNCH)
Last Wednesday night (21st January) the NO2NP roadshow resumed for the first meeting of the new year at Howden Park Centre in Livingston, West Lothian – the constituency of the new Education Secretary, Angela Constance, whom those present were urged to contact.
The main speaker of the night was Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, who represent young ME sufferers. She said that the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act fails to allow for non-engagement, despite a ministerial assurance to the contrary.
The audience also heard from Bonnybridge-based father of four, James McIntosh, who told how he had received a letter from NHS Forth Valley saying that all his children have a named person who would be sent future letters and reports. As a result of press involvement, NHS Forth Valley backed down.
The meeting was chaired by Dr Stuart Waiton from Abertay University in Dundee, who said that the named person policy is sold on the basis that it will keep children safe, while stating his view that the policy is in fact detrimental to children who do need support.
This same theme was highlighted in a story in the Sunday Express newspaper over the weekend, relating to concerns raised by a senior police officer. According to the paper:
“Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham told ministers and senior officials that the named-person scheme could see the ‘focus’ of child protection efforts moving away from ‘high-risk children’. The comments emerged in the minutes of a Scottish Government meeting, but a spokesman said they could not offer any further clarification as ‘no detailed notes were taken’.”
The paper went on to report that it had “lodged a Freedom of Information request asking for more details, but the Scottish Government has been unable to comply.”
The next dates for the NO2NP roadshow are Greenock (Beacon Arts Centre) on 5 February and Dunfermline (Carnegie Conference Centre) on 11 February. Both events begin at 7:30pm and are free of charge. We hope to see you there.
The NO2NP campaign is gearing up for a busy year ahead, with three roadshow events organised over the next few weeks. The first is next Wednesday (21st January) at Howden Park Centre in Livingston where speakers will include social services consultant Maggie Mellon, Tymes Trust representative Lesley Scott, and James McIntosh, a parent who has already been affected by the scheme. The meeting will start at 7:30pm, is free, and all are welcome
Meanwhile, media interest in the named person continues. Writing in The Daily Mail last week, commentator Gerald Warner accused politicians of having “nationalised our children” noting that “legislation has recently been passed marginalising parents’ authority over children by the appointment of a ‘named person’ to monitor minors on behalf of the State.”
In terms of the next developments for the campaign, we await the commencement of The Scottish Government’s consultation on guidance to accompany the legislation, as well as the legal judgment on the judicial review which has been lodged against the scheme.
Last night (26th November) the NO2NP roadshow visited Montrose. A lively meeting was held which was addressed by Lesley Scott of Tymes (Young ME sufferers) Trust and Alison Preuss of Schoolhouse.
Lesley Scott said that the named person scheme – which she warned was state control of children – usurps the role of parents and lowers the threshold for intervention. She explained that though the Children’s Minister, Aileen Campbell, had said that parents don’t need to engage, this is not in the legislation and there is no clear explanation of what non-engagement means. She warned that those who did seek to withdraw may be subject to further intervention.
Alison Preuss described the relevant section of the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act as a “tartan Trojan horse” and said that no family was now safe from routine state intervention. She also spoke about the ‘ChildrenCount’ surveys which had been carried out in Angus and other parts of Scotland in recent weeks.
Last night’s meeting was the eighth roadshow held by the NO2NP campaign since August. If you would like the roadshow to come to your area, please contact us at email@example.com, and we may be able to arrange this.
Last night (12th November) the NO2NP roadshow visited Perth, which was the seventh meeting since the roadshow kicked off back in August. The meeting also coincided with the ongoing judicial review of the named person legislation, taking place this week at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
The main speaker was Dr Stuart Waiton of Abertay University. Dr Waiton spoke about how the idea that children are vulnerable and “at risk” has escalated in recent years and that there is an expectation that parents need guidance and support. He argued that there is very little recognition of the importance of privacy and that families have become increasingly “invisible” in social policy and law, with the term not being mentioned at all in the Children & Young People Act.
The meeting was also addressed by Lesley Scott from Tymes Trust, who work on behalf of young people with ME. She said that the named person usurped the rights of parents and had lowered the threshold for intervention. She branded the scheme “oppressive”, “illegal” and an “intrusion into family life”.
The NO2NP roadshow continues in two weeks’ time in Montrose on 26th November, where speakers will again include Lesley Scott and also Alison Preuss of Schoolhouse. More details available here.
**If you were planning to attend the court hearing this week and expected to find details on our website, unfortunately the demands on the court meant larger court rooms were unavailable. The court room assigned to the case only has a very small public gallery.**
The two latest outings of the popular NO2NP roadshow were in Aberdeen on 15th October and Irvine, North Ayrshire on 23rd October.
At the Aberdeen meeting, supporters heard from Liz Smith MSP, Young People spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives. She described the named person policy as “slightly sinister” and argued that resources would be diverted away from the most vulnerable, hence defeating the purpose of the policy. She also said it was ridiculous that children aged over 16, who were recognised as adults, still required a named person.
Next up was Maggie Mellon, a consultant and writer on social work and children/family issues. She said that government shouldn’t get involved in parenting, and lamented a preoccupation with risk and safety.
The audience were also addressed by Lesley Scott, representing Tymes Trust, who work with children suffering from ME. She said it was unclear what will happen when parents and the authorities disagree and that it would be a “minefield” for parents who choose not to engage. She also explained that the threshold for intervention had been lowered from risk of significant harm to the ‘SHANARRI’ indicators.
In the chair for the evening was Dr Stuart Waiton, a sociologist from Abertay University, Dundee, who expressed his concern that children may go to their named person to complain about their parents and that the authority of parents and families could be undermined.
The meeting in Irvine was addressed by Glasgow-based community paediatrician, Dr Jenny Cunningham, who explained that every child in Scotland would be assessed through the ‘SHANARRI’ indicators and that the legislation would oblige all health, education and social work professionals to identify any deficiencies in parenting and to arrange intervention. She also spoke of her concern about the impact of the named person on family life and said that parents were intimidated by the idea.
The next talk was given by Anne Cannon, a Glasgow-based mother of five, who said her two main concerns with the named person policy were the negative impact it would have on the relationship between parents and state agencies, and the fact that it would fail the very people the policy is meant to help.
The meeting was also addressed by local man, Councillor Tom Marshall, who sits on North Ayrshire Council. He spoke about the appalling ‘ChildrenCount’ surveys which have been operating in North Ayrshire and outlined some of the questions being asked of youngsters.
The next stop for the NO2NP roadshow will be PERTH (Salutation Hotel) on 12th November at 7:30pm, followed by MONTROSE (Park Hotel) on 26th November at 7:30pm. We hope to see you there.
The Named Person issue was debated extensively on BBC Sunday Politics Scotland over the weekend, with presenter Gordon Brewer putting pressure on the Minister for Children and Young People, Aileen Campbell, to explain the need for this intrusive proposal.
Watch the clip
The Director of The Christian Institute, which is part of the NO2NP campaign, also took part in the discussion saying the Named Person scheme would make it much more difficult to target resources at vulnerable children.
Other guests on the show included Gavin Brown, a Conservative MSP, opposed to the legislation.
Lesley Scott, who represents a charity providing support services for families with children suffering from ME and whose own son suffers from ME, was also interviewed on the show about her concerns over the Named Person scheme. You can watch an interview she did with NO2NP here.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, which is preparing to mount a Judicial Review, said: “The Scottish Government has passed a Bill which gives huge powers to Named Persons to advise and talk to children without their parents even knowing about it and without their consent. And it seems to me a sledge hammer to crack a nut.”
“The same state bodies will be involved in looking for all these families where there’s no issue at all, so instead of actually finding that needle in the haystack they are actually making that haystack much bigger. And that’s going to make it much more difficult to find the vulnerable children”.
"I oppose the Scottish Government's plan to assign a 'Named Person' to every child in Scotland because it undermines families and diverts resources from children who need them."