Controversial 'Named Person' policy is scrapped

Teaching union demands guarantee that protection of vulnerable children will remain a top priority, after scrapping of ‘Named Person’
19th September 2019, 4:46pm


Controversial 'Named Person' policy is scrapped
Controversial 'named Person' Policy Is Scrapped

Scottish deputy first minister and education secretary John Swinney has confirmed the Scottish government's Named Person scheme is to be scrapped.

In a statement at the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Mr Swinney said he would now seek to repeal the legislation.

The scheme was introduced as part of the Scottish government's Getting it right for every child (Girfec) policy and aimed to appoint a "named person" - often a teacher - to act as a clear point of contact for all children from birth to the age of 18, later reduced to 16.

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The EIS teaching union said that promoting the wellbeing of all children, protecting vulnerable and at-risk children, and supporting those with complex needs, must remain top priorities after the decision to scrap Named Person.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Although the Named Person scheme became a highly controversial subject, it was originally conceived as a genuine attempt to ensure that the protection afforded to vulnerable and at-risk young people across Scotland was as robust as it could be, to ensure that children did not fall through cracks in the system, and to strengthen the support to those with needs requiring a multi-agency approach.

"While legislation is not always the best route to achieving such aims, we must not lose sight of the need that still exists to deliver on that ambition."

Mr Flanagan added: "The requirement to improve collaborative practice across support agencies and schools remains critical in ensuring that vulnerable children are looked after. Key to delivering the necessary improvement is the allocation of sufficient staffing, time and resources to allow all agencies to work together to enhance child protection policy and practice and strengthen the support to those with wellbeing needs that cannot be met by the school alone.

"Given the growing number of young people in need of such support, additional investment is a matter of urgency."

In his statement to Parliament earlier, Mr Swinney said: "I'm giving notice of our intention to seek to repeal parts four and five of the Children and Young People Scotland Act 2014 using a suitable legislative vehicle in due course," Mr Swinney said.

"I believe that today we've taken an important step forward in providing families and practitioners with certainty about how information-sharing can support well-being in a transparent way which respects the rights of everyone.

"The mandatory Named Person scheme for every child, underpinned by law, will now not happen.

"We will withdraw our Bill and repeal the relevant legislation.

"Instead, existing voluntary schemes that provide a point of contact for support will continue under current legal powers, where councils and health boards wish to provide them, and parents wish to use them."

Mr Swinney added: "In this way, we will support our children and young people so that they can thrive and rise to the challenges and opportunities that life brings.

"Only through continued investment in our children's well-being will we achieve our vision of a prosperous country where everyone gets the chance to fulfil their potential and no-one is left behind.

"That is why we continue to be fully committed to Getting It Right For Every Child."

Eileen Prior, executive director of parents' organisation Connect, said: "We are relieved and pleased that the Named Person aspect of the Children and Young People's Act will not go ahead. This is good news for families and children, and those working to support them. We believed from the outset that the Named Person system would have undermined the relationship of trust needed for families to work together with school staff and others."

She added: "However, we know some local authorities have gone ahead with partial implementation. What will happen to these schemes and how will everyone be updated on the fact that the Named Person role is no more?

"We look forward to hearing about the detail of this."

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said the scheme had been "utterly discredited".

Speaking at First Minister's Questions today - before the government's decision was officially announced by Mr Swinney - he said: "The SNP's Named Person policy, which would allow public authorities to share confidential information about children in Scotland without either the child or young person, or their parent, being aware, has been utterly discredited," he said.

"Last month, even the expert panel set up by the Scottish government to try to make sense of this declared they couldn't."

Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said after Mr Swinney's announcement that Named Person was "a good idea destroyed by the incompetence of a succession of ministers who lost control of the implementation".

He added: "Good intentions do not make for good governnment."

Scottish Greens education spokesman Ross Greer said the policy had been "devastated" by the "bungling" of the government.

Earlier on Thursday, an investigation was launched by the Scottish government after details of the decision on the Named Person policy were leaked to the media before Mr Swinney's statement. 

At First Minister's Questions, presiding officer Ken Macintosh warned MSPs that major policy announcements should not be leaked ahead of statements being known to Parliament.

He said: "I'm sure that members will be aware and will share my disappointment that significant details of this afternoon's statement on Getting It Right For Every Child on the Named Person legislation have been leaked to the media in advance of this afternoon's announcement.

"My understanding is that the government is investigating this matter but, as members know, announcements on major policies should not enter the public domain before they are communicated to this Parliament and I would urge the government to have regard to this guidance on announcements and I expect it to be adhered to."

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