Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
Guest blog by Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust and Alison Preuss of Scottish Home Education Forum
Evidence from families affected by GIRFEC shows parents shun family services as they do not trust Named Person scheme
A ‘fringe’ event was held in Edinburgh on 15 November to hear families’ own testimonies on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill, which is currently before the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament.
Although the Government has claimed the new Bill will remedy the defects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, those adversely affected by the GIRFEC policy and the premature implementation of the Named Person scheme were excluded from Holyrood’s invitation-only evidence sessions and focus groups. In order to redress the balance, Tymes Trust and the Scottish Home Education Forum issued their own call for evidence.
‘Postcards from the fringe’ allowed attendees-in-person to respond to questions that had arisen from over 90 pieces of evidence submitted, and to raise other points for discussion.
A delegation of parents and children later visited the Scottish Parliament to deliver their evidence (www.np-fringe.uk/the-evidence) to James Dornan MSP, convener of the Education and Skills Committee.
Desired outcomes from the fringe event
Reflections from the fringe
Participants were asked whether they believed the new Bill would satisfy the terms of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, which struck down key provisions of the 2014 Act, and how they thought the Government and Parliament should proceed in the face of continuing opposition to its proposed legislation and an overarching policy framework which places state outcomes above citizens’ autonomy.
Much discussion focused on the data sharing and undefined, subjective notion of ‘wellbeing’ on which the Named Person scheme and wider GIRFEC policy rely, and inconsistent messaging (support or mass surveillance?). Families noted their irrevocable loss of trust in public/third sector providers, which has already resulted in avoidance of services, refusal to disclose information that may be misused or lost, covert recording of all engagements with professionals, opt-out from health visiting, nurseries and, increasingly, schools.
Other recurrent themes were the lack of access to justice for those whose human rights had been, and continue to be, infringed by public and third sector bodies, and the lack of accountability of those who failed to get it right in the face of case law and legal opinion that had predicted the outcome of the judicial review.
Families believed their own evidence and experiences had been filtered out in order to push through legislation and a code of practice whose only purpose is to seek circumvention of the Supreme Court ruling.
Many people were of course unable to attend the daytime event on 15 November. The event was held during the day so that we could hand deliver the evidence ‘postcards’ to the Parliament, but we had planned to live-stream the event for those unable to attend. With this in mind we had initially booked the Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace Edinburgh which was “well equipped with audio-visual equipment and […] Wi-Fi.” Unfortunately the Quaker Meeting House cancelled our booking out of the blue. The Quaker Meeting House has hosted National Third Sector GIRFEC Project as well as other GIRFEC supporting events.
This spanner in the works forced us to find an alternative venue at short notice – not an easy task in the middle of Edinburgh a month before Christmas. Unfortunately the broadband provision in the venue we finally secured was not what we had expected and did not support live-streaming of the event. What is more the acoustics have rendered the recording sub-standard. We are endeavouring to save what we can of the day’s discussions and may post the salvaged footage if we can.
We thank you for your patience.
As part of its efforts to promote its GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) policy, the Scottish Government has been holding a number of day conferences for selected stakeholders at their Victoria Quay offices in Leith.
In a meeting yesterday, it invited a number of Third Sector organisations to discuss future plans for the controversial Named Person scheme. NO2NP got wind of the meeting and asked if a representative could attend, but in a frosty reply the request was denied. So much for John Swinney’s “intense engagement” with “those who have concerns” about the scheme!
Not to be put out, a group of NO2NP volunteers assembled to hand out leaflets at the main entrance. As well as delegates for the conference, a number of civil servants and other visitors took a leaflet and one lady said “I’m not going to the conference, but I will take a leaflet, as I am interested in this.”
We were encouraged when Early Years Minister Mark McDonald (who was to be addressing the gathering) took a leaflet, however former Education Secretary Mike Russell declined to take one.
Lesley Scott from Tymes Trust had joined the local volunteers and here’s what she had to say about the response to the leafleting:-
“The lack of awareness of the Named Person scheme amongst those working with and for the Scottish Government is alarming.
“What’s more, former Education Minister Mike Russell’s attitude to us yesterday, his dismissive sweeping aside of any attempt to offer a NO2NP leaflet even before it was made, shows in our elected members of government a disturbing contempt for any opinions except those that echo their own.
“No change then in the Government’s strategy that led to this problem in the first place.”
You can let the Scottish Government know that you are still opposing the Named Person scheme by signing and sharing our online petition.
Report by Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust
It was a cold, damp Saturday morning as our dedicated NO2NP volunteers gathered outside Perth Concert Hall to leaflet delegates as they arrived for day 2 of the Scottish Greens autumn conference. The updated NO2NP leaflet highlights July’s UK Supreme Court decision that sent the Scottish Government back to the drawing board on their flagship Named Person scheme.
Most delegates took the leaflet, with only a few expressing strong opposition – although very few seemed willing to engage in discussion about the issue. One delegate revealed she is a teacher but declined a leaflet claiming she was undecided; another lady refused a leaflet and stated that she had tabled a motion on the Named Person which was due to be debated that afternoon.
That motion before the conference, however, fell into the dangerous and unhelpful trap of conflating welfare and wellbeing. It began “Child Welfare and the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014” and continued, “In light of the Supreme Court ruling on the legality of Part 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 it is necessary to develop a policy that supports the principle of an integrated and co-ordinated range of services to support children’s well-being while safeguarding the human rights of children, young people and their parents.”
Contrary to the Act as it stands, the full text of the motion put before the conference at least recognised that “there is no objective measure of what is in a child’s best interests, nor objective standards of approved parenting applicable in all social circumstances”. It acknowledged that “each and every child and their family relationship is unique and does not require state monitoring”. Furthermore it recommended that “parents and guardians retain the right to withhold consent from involvement in the Named Person scheme”. However, it did accept in principle the role of a Named Person, however diluted, as an instrument of the state within the family.
John Finnie MSP, member for Highlands and Islands, was approached and offered a NO2NP leaflet which he refused saying, “I was a Highland Councillor, I know about it” – apparently conflicting with John Swinney’s claims that the Named Person scheme running in Highland is not of the same ‘capacity and capability as that envisioned in our legislation’.
Ross Greer, MSP for West Scotland, did take a leaflet, but Patrick Harvie refused and hurried past.
The Scottish Parliament website states: “The people of Scotland elect 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). MSPs represent their constituents on devolved matters in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.”
The UK Supreme Court found that the Named Person legislation contained within the Children & Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 passed by the Scottish Parliament was in fact unlawful; that it breached human rights.
Scotland’s MSPs failed the people they were elected to serve when they passed into statute unlawful legislation that breached human rights.
Given that, at the very least, our MSPs should now be more minded to hear and present concerns that do not align with their own or that of their party but which are, nevertheless, resolutely held by growing numbers of those they have been elected to serve.
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.
Judges at the UK Supreme Court have declared the Scottish Government’s ‘state snooper’ Named Person scheme to be illegal.
The controversial legislation has been condemned for breaching the human rights of families.
It is the first time the Supreme Court has prevented a major piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament from coming into force.
In a historic verdict, five of the UK’s most senior judges, including two Scots, unanimously overturned decisions by the courts in Edinburgh on the legality of the Named Person provisions of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
The judges branded the law “defective” for breaching article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which guarantees everyone’s “right to a private and family life”.
They declared Holyrood had exceeded its powers by making a law which allowed public bodies to share sensitive private information about children and parents without consent.
The judges stated:
“The sharing of personal data between relevant public authorities is central to the role of the named person … the operation of the information sharing provisions will result in interferences with the rights protected by article 8 of the ECHR” (Para. 78). Because of the lack of safeguards “the overriding of confidentiality is likely often to be disproportionate” (Para. 100).
“…the information-sharing provisions of Part 4 of the Act are not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament” (Para. 106).
“…since the defective provisions are not within the legislative competence of the Parliament, they cannot be brought into force.” (Para. 109)
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert, said:
“We are delighted with the decision, which proves our concerns, and those of the 35,000 people who signed our petition, were properly founded.
“This proposed scheme was intrusive, incomprehensible and illegal.
“This ruling means the Scottish Government has been blocked from implementing this scheme on August 31. It must scrap its plan for state snoopers with intrusive data sharing powers. It has to go back to the legislative drawing board if it wants to try again. But it would have to come up with a much more limited scheme that actually respects the rights of children and parents.”
“The Big Brother scheme is history.”
“It’s wonderful news for mums, dads and children all across Scotland who no longer have to worry about this unjustified invasion of their private lives. To many of them the Named Person scheme felt like a legal battering ram to gain access to their homes. The court has taken sides with ordinary families and put the Scottish Government back in its place.”
The judgment emphasises the importance of article 8. In a withering verdict on the Government flagship legislation, it said:
“The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.” (Para. 73)
They also quoted from a US Supreme Court judgment which states:
“The child is not the mere creature of the state” (Para. 73).
To read the judgment or see the hand down visit the UK Supreme Court website.
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 roadshow team returned to the west of Scotland on Wednesday evening, when they held a well-attended meeting in Coatbridge. A good number of younger folk turned up for this one, including some secondary school children, who will of course all be assigned a Named Person.
Dr Jenny Cunningham, a local community paediatrician, challenged the First Minister’s contention that parents aren’t obliged to engage with the Named Person. She explained that the legislation makes it mandatory for every child to have a ‘state guardian’, and that children’s wellbeing will be “promoted, supported and safeguarded”, regardless.
Jenny went on to say that supporters of the scheme argue it’s about wellbeing, not child protection, yet when they are criticised, they always cite child protection as the reason why the scheme is necessary and accuse us of being against that! “Parental rights should not be treated so casually or dismissively” she went on. “They are one of the fundamental protections against state authority and tyranny over families – they’re the mark of a free society.”
Gordon Macdonald from CARE for Scotland then summarized why NO2NP is opposed to the Named Person scheme: it’s universal, not “opt in” (indeed, there are no opt outs); it conflates welfare issues (risk of significant harm) with vague “wellbeing concerns”; and there are very broad data sharing powers, which don’t require the consent of the parent. Indeed, Named Persons are discouraged from raising the issue of consent with parents, in case it damages trust between them! Just keep them in the dark, then?!
Next up was Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust, who took everyone through the detailed blueprint of young children’s lives that the Named Person will monitor with a view to ascertaining if any of the Government’s 222 risk indicators apply and whether the child should be put on a Child’s Plan, with the possibility of Compulsory Supervision Orders.
Lesley finished by saying: “The Named Person is not an entitlement; it is not simply a single point of contact. It employs a corruption of children’s rights to empower the state against parents, fatally undermining the autonomy of the family and handing the state free rein to intervene in family life whenever it feels it to be appropriate.”
There was an excellent Q&A at the end, when people asked who was going to monitor Named Persons’ activities (nothing seems to be in place for this, beyond a complaints procedure). A social worker spoke eloquently about his opposition to the scheme and said that many of his colleagues would also speak out, but were fearful for their careers if they did.
A good number of folk signed up as NO2NP volunteers and others were happy to share their views with our cameraman – watch out for our vox pop video coming soon!
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!
The Chair of Trustees and Executive Director Jane Colby of Tymes Trust attended the Supreme Court Appeal hearing in Westminster, 8-9 March 2016
I wanted to speak. I hadn’t anticipated that. I wanted to speak out, but as you know, it wasn’t that kind of hearing. And yet, an unexpected moment arrived when I really wanted to give evidence. Impossible of course. This was an Appeal to the Supreme Court, a war where the weapons are points of law, wielded by lawyers, before five Supreme Court Judges with minds (as was said of Miss Marple) like a bacon slicer.
The compulsory Named Person state guardian scheme. What it was, how it came to be what it was, and why it was illegal.
Why it was “mission creep”, a “service” morphed out of all recognition into a monstrous Jabberwock, gobbling up family rights and shredding their liberty to raise children in freedom.
Why it was not. And why sharing data without permission, without telling parents, was quite permissable.
Why it was not.
And that was where I wanted to speak. Data sharing? Information sharing? What data? What information?
The Supreme Court building is in every sense, awesome. A Gothic beauty designed, ironically, by a Scot, transformed inside into a glass and leather palace. Each nation of the United Kingdom is symbolised in national emblems formed in illuminated glass and coloured like jewels. Hanging high above us, high above the judges.
A really diverse group of students, locals, families and holidaymakers turned out on Monday night for the latest stop of the NO2NP roadshow in St Andrews. The historic university’s St Salvator’s Hall kindly provided one of their lecture theatres for the event, where speakers from the team brought everyone up to date with the campaign.
First up was Liz Smith, who spearheaded opposition to the Named Person scheme in the Scottish Parliament in 2014. She explained her two fundamental objections to the scheme, namely that it undermines parents and diverts resources away from truly vulnerable children. Liz, who is a former schoolteacher, warned that the scheme will foster a lack of trust between parents and schoolteachers.
Lesley Scott from TYMES Trust drew gasps from the audience when she explained the workings of a game for very young schoolchildren to show how the scheme will work. A little like snakes and ladders, it is called “On the Trail with the Wellbeing Snail” and aims to show children what “good wellbeing” looks like. A child moves forward two spaces if they tell their teacher they were sad because their friend had been unkind to them, but back two spaces if they did not join the new after-school fencing club!
She also displayed a series of alarming slides highlighting the extent of the blueprint planned for every child’s life under the scheme, which is due to come into force across Scotland on 31 August. Lesley finished by expressing concern that under the scheme the opinion of professionals will become paramount, whilst those of parents and families will be seen as problems to be fixed.
Next up was Alison Preuss from the Scottish Home Education Forum, who shared her thoughts about the recent Supreme Court appeal and her concerns about the ways she believes the sharing of data by Named Persons breaches UK data protection law. She said that under the Children Act, data may be shared if there is a welFARE risk, but under the Named Person scheme, data may be shared if there is a wellBEING concern.
Maureen Falconer from the Information Commissioner’s Office in Scotland had been heard to acknowledge in a video shown earlier in the meeting that the change from “significant harm” to “wellbeing” was a “lowering of the trigger” which, Alison added leaves Scots citizens, “with less protection than their counterparts in the rest of the UK.”
After Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute shared some practical points, there was an excellent Q&A, with many astute comments from the audience.
The team will be back in St Andrews for an Action Day on Wednesday morning, squeezing in another roadshow event in Haddington tonight. If you live in one of these areas, we hope to see 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.
‘Angry Salmond’, who is best known for his witty political jibes promoting Scottish independence on social media, has raised concerns about the Named Person scheme in a comment piece in The National newspaper.
The man behind the popular Twitter parody account, who is now a regular columnist in The National, said it was ‘suspicious’ that the scheme has been kept “off the public radar and not openly championed as the world-beating miracle cure that its creators doubtlessly consider it to be”.
He stated: “I can’t help but notice that people who know little about Named Person seem entirely in favour of it, while impassioned researchers appear wholly against it.
He added: “I’ll concede that every child being assigned a mandatory government official who employs a “Wellbeing Wheel” to determine if the kid is happy or not certainly isn’t something parents are used to”.
Criticising the speed in which ministers pushed through the proposals, he commented: “Maybe we could have stepped cautiously toward the Named Person scheme rather than diving unwaveringly upon it with no real evidence it will improve anything.”
The columnist warned: “The Named Person idea makes people anxious that, once again, politicians are trying to put out the village fire with a tsunami”.
But Angry Salmond, like many, makes the misguided statement that “the intention of the scheme is to help vulnerable children”, and accepts that this is “a righteous idea”.
Yes, we would all agree that helping vulnerable children is “a righteous idea”. But this scheme is not about child protection as the Government would like us to believe – we wish it was that focused! Instead, it is a universal scheme to monitor the happiness of children, which is highly subjective.
Lesley Scott, the Scottish representative for The Young ME Sufferers (TYMES) Trust in a letter to The National, warned: “This dangerous legislation conflates wellbeing worries with child protection concerns, lowering the trigger for state interference to when a child’s “wellbeing” is adversely affected by any matter arising from any factor”.
She added: “The Scottish Government’s own legal team conceded that every child in Scotland is now viewed as potentially ‘vulnerable’ which holds the considerable implication that all parents are now viewed as potentially neglectful or abusive.”
On the term ‘wellbeing’ she also highlighted that even “the Scottish Government concedes that wellbeing ‘can mean different things ranging from mental health to a wider vision of happiness’.”
The first NO2NP roadshow of 2016 earlier this week attracted people of all ages eager to hear the latest news on the controversial state guardian scheme.
CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer Gordon Macdonald spoke about the background to the legislation. He explained how the final Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill had started out as two separate Bills, but the part that dealt with the Named Person scheme had never had a proper public consultation. Instead, once the two Bills were conjoined, a short consultation was heard on the enormous draft Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill and only one day of Parliamentary time was allowed to scrutinise the controversial scheme.
The provisions were therefore passed into law without either adequate public consultation or thorough parliamentary scrutiny, which is alarming given the fact that every single family in Scotland with children under 18 will now have a state guardian imposed on them without their request or consent.
Gordon went on to say that the Scottish Government wanted to enshrine the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law, however they have been very selective in the provisions they have adopted and all the ones that stress the importance of family life have been omitted.
Next to speak was Lesley Scott from The Young ME Sufferers Trust. She gave an overview of how the NO2NP campaign has forced a public debate on the issue and how this has brought out conflicting rationales from those supportive of the scheme for its basis and justification. The Government is saying it is about protecting vulnerable children, while some charities are saying it is about looking out for the wellbeing needs of all children. Lesley suggested it was actually “a dangerous conflation of the two”, brought about through the overarching GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) approach, which permeates all services and has revealed “the extent to which families are now under surveillance and assessment by the state”.
Lesley went on to say that the campaign’s legal challenge through the courts had forced the Government’s legal team to admit “that every child in Scotland is now viewed as being potentially vulnerable” and that all parents “must consequently be viewed as potentially neglectful or abusive”.
She went on to highlight some of the alarming provisions in the final version of the Government’s Statutory Guidance on the scheme, which places a duty to share wellbeing concerns, not only on the NHS and local authorities, but also on “the third sector and independent or grant-aided contractors”, including taxi drivers in the Scottish Borders, which made headlines recently.
Lesley concluded by saying that this legislation implies that “parenting is now considered as too onerous and difficult a path to navigate without compulsory support or intervention from the state”.
After a video was shown, Alison Preuss from home education charity Schoolhouse spoke about how the Named Person legislation leaves Scottish families “with less legal protection than their counterparts in the rest of the UK”.
Alison cited recent comments made by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to the effect that Named Persons should just go ahead and share information without telling the parents involved, simply because the threshold had now been lowered from significant harm to wellbeing concern.
However, this was not the view taken by former Commissioner Richard Thomas, who commented on a related issue during his tenure: “We live in a free society. We value our freedoms. Sometimes it is a step too far if people err on the side of the collection of data for the sake of collecting data, rather than on the ones we need to watch.”
Alison was able to reveal that Inverclyde had introduced its own form of GIRFEC, but adding two more “c’s” – Citizen and Community. ‘Nurturing Inverclyde’ is said to mean “working together to get it right for every child, citizen and community” and the approach is “based on the development of early intervention and preventative spend projects through partnership working.”
Alison argued that this is shorthand for mass data collection to identify those who may be straying from the path of “getting it right”-eousness. She finished by saying: “trust in professionals, from GPs to childminders, is being systematically destroyed as they are all expected to report any wellbeing (as opposed to welfare) concerns – or just mere suspicions – to the Named Person without you or your child even knowing about it. Parents are now all guilty until they prove their innocence”.
The evening finished with practical suggestions for getting involved in the campaign. There was a very lively Q&A, during which it became clear that the local Greenock Telegraph had run a couple of stories on the scheme and published some letters. A number of people indicated their willingness to help hand out leaflets this Saturday morning for our NO2NP Action Day in Greenock, so if you live in the area, why not join them? Email email@example.com for more information.
The Prestwick meeting was packed on Tuesday night for the latest NO2NP Roadshow event. People from across South Ayrshire turned up to hear the NO2NP team bring them up to date with all that is happening with the legislation and the campaign.
Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute welcomed everyone and spoke of the breadth of the coalition of individuals and organisations that makes up the NO2NP campaign. What unites everyone is “our belief in the autonomy of the family and its independence from unnecessary state interference”.
He went on to explain about the legal challenge to the legislation, which is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on 8th March. He made reference to the human rights arguments under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life) and data protection arguments and expressed the hope that the Supreme Court would strike down the legislation, as it is empowered to do.
Lesley Scott from TYMES (The Young ME Sufferers) Trust then spoke about the official report on the Highland Pathfinder Named Person pilot scheme, which Government politicians have been so positive about. However, on closer scrutiny, the report contains some revealing comments. It said that the small number of children involved in the Highland Pathfinder trial meant that any positive shifts tended to be exaggerated, and that it was not possible for them to determine the extent to which the services were getting it right for EACH child. Lesley remarked that when the needs of an individual child do not “fit” the GIRFEC template for “every” child, the parents’ right to act in accordance with the needs of their individual child is compromised.
After a video about the NO2NP campaign was shown, next up was Alison Preuss from homeschooling charity Schoolhouse. She spoke about the award-winning AYRshare model for health and social care collaboration, which boasts that it “provides effective, timely and secure sharing of information between organisations to help address concerns about the wellbeing and protection of children and young people”.
In other words, Alison said, children’s personal data as well as their parents’ can be shared ‘at the click of a mouse’ across three council boundaries in Ayrshire, as well as the NHS, and will soon become available across other systems running elsewhere. Alison remarked that this could be called ‘putting sharing before caring’ and reminded those gathered that they have no choice in the matter.
She went on to explain that the Government’s GIRFEC scheme “fundamentally changes the relationship between citizen and state by fatally compromising the right to individual privacy and family autonomy. The Scottish Government has decided what is right for every one of us and that is so very wrong on so many levels.”
The evening ended with the usual lively Q&A and some practical suggestions for ways in which people can get involved with the campaign – and a good number of people were happy to sign up as volunteers.
NO2NP supporters will be in Ayr town centre this Saturday handing out leaflets – if you live in the area and would like to join us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Waterside Hotel on the banks of the River Ness was the latest venue for the NO2NP Roadshow on Tuesday night this week.
Simon Calvert from The Christian Institute welcomed everyone and explained that the aim of the Named Person scheme was to “police children’s happiness” but that there was no way it was the role of the state to do this. Named Persons would effectively be “looking over parents’ shoulders” to see if they were “ticking all the boxes”.
Gordon Macdonald from CARE for Scotland then spoke about the background to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (which introduced the Named Person scheme) and the “totally inadequate scrutiny” given to the Bill in its passage through Parliament. Even some MSPS who voted for it are now realising that they had been too enthusiastic about it, thanks to the NO2NP campaign.
He said opposition to the scheme, both inside and outside the Scottish Parliament, has been increasing, something that is “unusual” once a Bill has been passed. Gordon went on to speak about the judicial review of the legislation, which is currently on its way to the Supreme Court. He said that although the courts have rejected the judicial review so far, the situation has improved. The most recent ruling has restricted the level of interference: medical records of a general nature cannot now be shared.
And the court has recognised that the Named Person scheme must be interpreted in light of human rights and data protection legislation. Gordon stated that not only was there an inappropriate level of interference in family life under the scheme, it was also unmanageable.
Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who gave a critique of the radio interview Government minister Aileen Campbell had given following the court’s ruling last month, during which she had repeatedly said that the scheme does not infringe upon parents’ rights and responsibilities for raising children in any way.
However, Lesley pointed out that, while existing law allows the state to override parents where there are child WELFARE concerns, the Named Person is now legally responsible for a child’s WELLBEING.
Although the GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) team acknowledges that there is a difference between welfare and wellbeing, the Scottish Government and even the judiciary are constantly conflating and confusing the two. Welfare has a clear legal understanding (it is threatened when a child is at risk of significant harm) but wellbeing by contrast is not commonly understood in any context.
Indeed, on the Scottish Government website, wellbeing is described as “a complex, multi-faceted construct that has continued to elude researchers’ attempts to define and measure it”.
Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute then provided some practical points for people to get engaged with the campaign, including helping out with the NO2NP Action Day in Inverness City Centre.
If you live in the Inverness area and would like to help raise the profile of the NO2NP campaign this Saturday, get in touch with us at email@example.com – it would be great to see you there!
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
Callers have inundated the BBC with opposition to the Named Person scheme, as the Government is criticised for not knowing the reality of its own proposals.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert and Lesley Scott of ME children’s charity TYMES Trust – a supporter of NO2NP – also spoke out on BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday.
One caller told Kaye Adams that the scheme would undermine the family and “smacks of Big Brother”.
In the words of another concerned caller, if finding vulnerable children is like looking for a needle in a haystack, the Named Person plans are like making the haystack bigger.
The fact that parents will have no choice as to whether their children have a Named Person was highlighted by yet another caller.
The Daily Mail criticised Fiona McLeod’s appearance on the show, saying she “failed to answer simple questions” about the plans.
Speaking after the programme, a spokesman for NO2NP said: “It was striking that the scheme the Minister was defending is not the same as the scheme her Government has actually legislated for.
“She thinks the Named Person is just someone parents and kids can ask for help.
“But the Named Person is legally empowered to monitor parents and children, to share their confidential data, and to put services in place, all without parental consent and even in defiance of parental wishes.
“The Government actually put out a leaflet for parents saying the Named Person is there to monitor children’s happiness.
“It said this means the Named Person will check ‘Your child gets a say in things like how their room is decorated and what to watch on TV’, ‘You trust your child to do the right thing’. This is an outrageous invasion of private family life.
“If you give a government official the duties of a parent, they will act like a parent. They will escalate issues that should be left to parents.
“Social workers desks are going to be overflowing with reports from Named Persons of all kinds of tittle tattle that should be beneath their notice.
“That means children who are neglected or abused are going to be even more likely to be overlooked because social services are going to be overwhelmed with Named Person reports about kids who weren’t allowed to watch their favourite TV programme.”
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.
The latest NO2NP Roadshow event was held on a beautiful, sunny evening in Galashiels last night.
Gordon Macdonald, who is CARE for Scotland’s Parliamentary Officer, spoke first. He said that the family is the fundamental unit in society and, as such, deserves respect. This respect for the family is “integral” to key human rights documents, but we have seen a reinterpretation of them in recent years which marginalises parents. The Named Person legislation is a really significant shift away from child welfare to a wellbeing model that is very vague and broad. We are seeing a fundamental shift in the ideology of how the state relates to all children, he explained.
Next up was Lesley Scott of TYMES Trust, who as usual highlighted what the local authority for the area was doing about the scheme. Borders Council has devised a “Cootie Catcher” so that children can learn how to assess their wellbeing. The Council has also created a snakes and ladders type game called “On the trail of the Wellbeing Snail”, where cards are selected when a player lands on a square that determines whether they make progress or go backwards.
The notorious SHANARRI wellbeing indicators of safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included are key to this game and are intended to show children when a “wellbeing outcome” has been achieved. Examples included whether a parent had washed their child’s gym kit the night before and whether a parent had listened to their child if they were upset.
Lesley went on to explain the Wellbeing Wheel, the My World triangle, the Resilience Matrix and Genogram, all part of the Scottish Government’s “toolkit” for assessing, analysing and addressing every child’s perceived “wellbeing” needs.
After Nigel Kenny from The Christian Institute brought everyone up to date about the judicial review appeal to the Inner House of the Court of Session last week, there was the usual lively Q&A, when those who had come raised a wide range of concerns about the scheme.
The NO2NP Roadshow will be calling at the Gracefield Arts Centre, Edinburgh Road, Dumfries next Wednesday, 17th June at 7.30pm – we look forward to seeing some of you there!
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.
Yesterday, Aidan O’Neill QC, representing campaigners challenging the Named Person scheme, told Scotland’s highest court that the plan to give every child in Scotland a state guardian was “incompatible with the fundamental rights of a democratic society”.
O’Neill, a leading human rights expert, said the scheme created a situation “worse than a nanny state because the nanny is at least responsible to the family”.
He was speaking at the start of the appeal hearing by opponents of the Named Person legislation, after Lord Pentland rejected their initial bid last year.
During the appeal, in Edinburgh’s Court of Session, Mr O’Neill said the state should support the family in the upbringing of children as the family is the fundamental group unit of the state and entitled to state protection.
He said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written to counter Nazi and Fascist totalitarian states which placed value on “uniformity and conformity” and to point out that “the child is not the mere creature of the state”.
He told the court the scheme didn’t require families to give consent and offered no chance to opt in or out and said: “The presumption is every child needs a named person. That is wrong. The vast majority of parents bring up their children perfectly well. For the state to assume a responsibility for every child regardless of need or threat of harm is to go beyond what we properly expect from a democratic society that respects families and respects diversity.”
Based on the guidance issued by the Scottish Government he also drew attention to the fact that: “Not only can you not opt out of the scheme you have to positively co-operate with the named person otherwise you could be characterised as ‘hostile’ or ‘non-engaging’ which leads to further state involvement. ”
He said the compulsory nature of the law and the need to collate data on every child would result in “white noise” meaning “those who do need help get lost”.
Mr O’Neill recognised that there are conflicting issues between respect for the family and responsibility for the protection of children from harm. But he said there was no pressing social need requiring interference in the lives of every family and continued: “The overwhelming majority of children are not neglected and the Named Person scheme subverts family life and supplants parents.”
He said the scheme was drawn up to promote ‘wellbeing’ (which can include everything from mental health to a “wider vision of happiness”) among children but said: “That’s what parents do and have done through the ages. It’s not the state’s job.
“We accept there is a legitimate state interest in the protection of the vulnerable, but this is not just dealing with the vulnerable, it’s dealing with all children.
“Most families do not need the state to get involved. Some parents – a tiny minority – do cause harm to their children but that does not justify appointing a named person to every child.”
He said the central assumption behind the scheme is that “the state knows best” whereas families “are the breeding ground of diversity and individuality”.
The legal action is being brought by The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust and the Family Education Trust, with the support of academics and individual parents, all of which support the NO2NP campaign.
The appeal before Lord Carloway, Lord Malcolm and Lord Bracadale continues today with the Scottish Government’s response.
The Named Person scheme is part of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act and is expected to be implemented nationwide in 2016.
Campaigners opposing the Named Person scheme are back in court today for an appeal hearing after their legal challenge was rejected last year.
Lord Pentland rejected arguments that MSPs had exceeded their powers, breaching human rights rules and data protection laws, in a Judicial Review aimed at having the legislation overturned.
Now three judges will consider the proposals again.
The legal action is being brought by The Christian Institute, CARE, TYMES Trust and the Family Education Trust, with the support of academics and individual parents, all of which support the NO2NP campaign.
Community Law Advice Network (Clan Childlaw), a charity that provides legal help for children, also raised concerns about the scheme and announced it will intervene in the case.
Simon Calvert of The Christian Institute, said: “We’re asking the court to make a ruling that the imposition of a Named Person on every child in Scotland is unconstitutional and a breach of the right to a private family life.
He said they wanted the “court to look behind the Government’s rhetoric and see how this is not about protecting vulnerable children. It is about making the state a co-parent, with power to second-guess and over-ride parenting decisions about what makes a child happy. It’s Government-approved-parenting writ large”.
He added: “The trigger for intervention by the Named Person is not where there is a ‘risk of harm’. The threshold at which the Named Person can intervene in the lives of Scottish families is merely the ‘promotion of well-being’.
“The Named Person is, in effect, legally empowered to police the happiness of Scottish children. He can access and share their confidential medical data, their school records, he can question children and give them advice and supply services to them without their parents’ consent – all on the basis of what he thinks is most likely to make them happy. That is an outrage. Thousands of people across Scotland know it is an outrage, and that’s why they’ll all be hoping our judicial review succeeds.”
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!
We are pleased to announce more NO2NP Roadshows coming up in May and June.
Supporters from across Scotland often contact our team requesting a NO2NP Roadshow in their area and we do our best to try and make it happen.
Let us know if you would like one in your area by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s still surprising how many people are unaware of the Named Person legislation. Help us spread the word by telling people about the Roadshows. Experts will be sharing about the background to the plans and concerns surrounding the scheme.
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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!
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.
Thanks to everyone who joined us in Glasgow for the NO2NP Roadshow. Representatives from the campaign shared about the many concerns surrounding the Named Person scheme.
Dr Stuart Waiton, a Sociology lecturer at Abertay University, expressed his unease about society’s increasing obsession with child safety and warned that “the autonomous family doesn’t exist any more”.
Lesley Scott of TYMES (The Young ME Suffers) Trust talked about how the Named Person scheme had its origins in the Scottish Government’s GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child) principle. She also explained about the Government’s “Wellbeing Wheel” and “SHANARRI” indicators and revealed that in the Highland pilot nearly 8000 children (1 in 5) were put on a “child’s plan”.
Quoting Jane Colby, Executive Director of TYMES Trust, Lesley said “families appear to be facing an arbitrary, punitive, threatening and destructive state juggernaut” in this legislation. She concluded by warning: “This is state-mandated parenting, which obligates a state employee to carry out statutory duties, which are primarily the responsibility of parents”.
Anne Cannon, a mother of five, said she first heard about the issue through a radio phone-in and presented her two major concerns as a parent. Firstly she warned about the negative impact she believes it will have upon the relationship between parents or carers with health visitors and teachers, and secondly she said she fears that children who do actually need help may be missed.
Michael Veitch of The Christian Institute, one of the groups backing the NO2NP campaign, shared practical pointers on how people can help oppose the Named Person scheme. He also announced a new NO2NP petition which can be accessed at no2np.org. Speaking about the Scottish government’s draft guidance on the scheme, he said that it “completely fails to make reference to fathers”.
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 second instalment of the NO2NP roadshow took place on the evening of Wednesday 27th August in Dundee city centre. Around 50 campaigners and members of the public gathered to hear the powerful case against the Scottish Government’s named person policy.
A particular focus of discussion on the night was the troubling new ‘ChildrenCount’ surveys currently being rolled out in Dundee, details of which (including links to the surveys themselves) can be found here: Improving Children’s Outcomes
The meeting was chaired by Dr Stuart Waiton, a sociologist based at nearby Abertay University.
The main speaker of the evening was Liz Smith MSP, who spearheaded the opposition to the named person policy during the passage of the legislation through Holyrood. She said:
“It grates on me that somebody else, appointed by the State, is responsible for your child. The vast majority of parents do not need to be told by the government how to look after their family. I don’t think parents want this and I don’t think they know it’s happening.”
Speaking about the oft-cited pilot scheme in the Highlands, she added: “I don’t see the compelling evidence that in Highland Council this has actually worked.”
The meeting was also addressed by Lesley Scott of Tymes Trust, who work with young ME sufferers. She made clear that parents who refuse to engage with the system will inevitably find that action will be taken against them and explained that: “a named person is allowed to access your child’s confidential records.”
The NO2NP roadshow moves on to Stirling on Friday 29th August, then Inverness on 1st October. More details can be found here.
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."