Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
The latest NO2NP Roadshow event was held in the Aberdeen Arts Centre on Monday (11th May), where one local woman’s run in with an emanation of the Named Person scheme at her daughter’s school was raised during Q&A as a matter of concern. Even more concern was expressed when it was revealed that a GP would be obliged to share confidential patient details about, for example, a mother’s struggle with depression with her child’s Named Person.
After a video was shown about the judicial review in the Court of Session, Abertay University sociology lecturer Dr Stuart Waiton spoke about the disjuncture between the people and the powerful and how, over the past century, children were no longer being seen in the context of their families and government was increasingly seeing its role as one of “risk management”.
Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust then made reference to the quote in a recent newspaper article by Acting Minister for Children and Young People that the Named Person legislation “is about making sure that we are doing everything in our power to protect vulnerable children.” Lesley then pointed out that the word ‘vulnerable’ does not appear anywhere in the legislation or in the draft statutory guidance. Instead, she said “this legislation is about measuring the wellbeing of each and every child.”
Some practical points on how people can be involved in helping the NO2NP campaign were then shared by Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute, before a lively Q&A, always one of the high points of these Roadshows.
Our next event is in Elgin this coming Monday (18th May) at the Laighmoray Hotel, Maisondieu Road, Elgin, IV30 1QR at 7.30pm – please do come along and find out more about the campaign.
On 23rd April the NO2NP Roadshow hosted a well-attended meeting in Portobello on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Dr Stuart Waiton chaired the event and spoke of the decline in the view of the family as an intrinsically good institution, instead it is now seen as the source of most children’s problems.
The first speaker was social work consultant Maggie Mellon, who said that it was “absurd” to assume that every child in a family “is potentially at risk and that information must be shared equally about all of them just in case”.
Then Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, representing families of young ME sufferers, spoke about the shift in the Named Person legislation to focus on wellbeing meaning that “the threshold for intervention in a child’s life has been drastically lowered from ‘at risk of significant harm’ to that of a worry over something as intangible as wellbeing. This means that significant decisions are open to personal interpretation and bias on the part of the named person.”
Finally, Nigel Kenny of The Christian Institute gave some practical points, as well as an update on the judicial review appeal, which has now been fast-tracked to be heard by the Inner House on 3rd and 4th June.
The Scottish Government has today (6 February) finally published its consultation on the guidance to accompany the Named Person scheme. NO2NP will be scrutinising it closely, however it already confirms our fears.
For example, the section on sharing information explains that “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”.
NO2NP remain firmly of view that the primary legislation itself is fundamentally flawed and cannot be corrected by guidance. That is why we believe the legal case for fighting the Act remains strong and an appeal against the recent judgment is being actively considered.
Full details of the Scottish Government’s consultation can be found here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2015/02/1851/0 and we will provide more information in due course.
The Scottish Government’s new sex education guidelines have deepened concerns over the ‘intrusive’ Named Person’ provisions, and are yet another example of the Government undermining parents.
The new guidelines state that if a child discloses that underage sexual activity has taken place then teachers should “discuss any concerns they have with the young person and ensure they have access to confidential, young people friendly services, where appropriate”.
It then goes on to say: “If there is judged to be a risk to the child’s wellbeing, staff should inform the child’s Named Person”, but makes no mention of parents.
A NO2NP spokesman criticized the guidelines, stating: “It’s beggars belief a teacher with concerns about the well-being of a child – including under-age sexual activity, which is a serious criminal offence – should be told by the government to pass on those concerns to the named person and not the child’s parents.
“How can a professional with potentially hundreds of kids to keep an eye on be given priority over the people that care about children the most – their own parents?
“Parents aren’t mentioned at all in the entire section on confidentiality in this guidance. The Government think the named person is entitled to know confidential, sexual health information about a child that its own parents are not.
“This is another example of the government undermining parents. The guidance’s empty platitudes about partnership between parents and schools are negated by the priority given to the named person’s role. What parent is going to feel they can co-operate with teachers if they know they will keep them in the dark about their child’s sexual activity but will share it with the named person?”
He added: “Mums and dads are being marginalised and sidestepped, their roles and responsibilities diminished and their authority undermined.”
Liz Smith, the Conservative young people spokeswoman, said: “I have huge problems with this. Parents will be very concerned that the first person who children will go to is the named person. Parents are being marginalised.”