Thursday, 26 May 2016

The toxic Named Person plan

"IF there was one subject which was raised time and again during the Holyrood election campaign it was the SNP’s plan to introduce a `named person` for every child in Scotland as of August."

"Toxic became the word most used to describe this plan and every attempt at answering vital questions was so cack-handed that it further undermined parental faith in the whole idea. Nicola Sturgeon indicated it wouldn’t be compulsory which is not the case. Humza Yousaf on BBC Question Time declared that a named person would only give advice when a parent asks for it again not what is written in the legislation..."

Just to recap, the named person, or `head gardener` as the government* has described the role, will be a de facto state guardian, the supervisor of the other gardeners (parents) in a child’s life as it buds then blooms into adulthood. This is for every child, not just those children considered vulnerable or at risk and already known to social services."

"Unsurprisingly many thousands of parents are furious at the idea that a person appointed by the government could ultimately have greater authority over their child than they do; can have access to any private medical or legal documents regarding the family without their knowledge; can intervene in family life when they see fit and keep dossiers on what goes on. There’s anger, too, that any parental resistance to having a named person can be deemed a `risk factor`."

"Unsurprisingly health visitors and headteachers are furious about the extra legal responsibility which will be heaped upon them and the ad-hoc way it will work especially during school holidays. Midwives, too, will also be "named persons" during pregnancy, planning and ensuring women follow "the correct pathway of care". Whatever that may mean..."

"Of course everyone wants vulnerable kids to get all the support they need from education, health and social services. You might think that investing money in these areas might help especially in child and adolescent mental health, for instance, where waiting lists are rising at a rate of noughts rather than creating a universal state guardian whose role starts from the very wrong idea that all kids are at risk. It surely removes the focus on those who really are."

"The Scottish Government should perhaps look at the research done by the University of Central Lancashire out yesterday which showed that staff were wasting time on innocent families and possibly putting vulnerable children at risk by over-reporting to social services. One in five of all children born in 2009-10 in England were reported that’s 150,000 but only 25 per cent were formally investigated and of them only ten per cent led to protection plans."

"The named person legislation will undoubtedly lead down the same path."

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*The `head gardener` analogy came from the Children`s Parliament, a charity which receives a grant from the Scottish Government.

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