Lesley Scott believes compulsion to conform is at the heart of the controversial state guardian scheme
Calum Munro, former policy lead for Highland Children’s Forum, defended the Named Person scheme in a TFN article (‘Named Person is better for carers’) stating it was “asked for” by families because of difficulties communicating with services.
He also said that the Named Person is “simply a point of contact to be approached by families or young people.”
No-one would take issue with the Named Person if it was indeed “simply” a way to expedite access to the services children with additional support issues needed. But, increasingly, what is being defended is not what is in the legislation.
John Swinney has now admitted that “A number of authorities have been making progress towards some form of Named Person scheme but the type of capacity and capability of the named person as envisioned in our legislation is not in place.”
Yet it was these same Named Person trials that were championed in parliament, held up as successful examples of the scheme and subsequently used as positive evidence to push the bill through parliament.
There is no doubt that families of children with additional support needs very often require help to access services. But one of the main themes of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is that all children will have a child’s plan which means targeted state intervention in to every family.
Over 90% of calls to The Young ME Sufferers advice line report issues over education provision; inappropriate and unsustainable education provision often leading to a deterioration in the child's health. There is no cure for ME. Parents frequently find themselves at odds with professional opinion on how best to manage it.
But worryingly part of the GIRFEC wellbeing assessment, alerts practitioners to the requirement that the child/young person along with the parent/carer is “compliant with treatment for any illnesses, diseases, chronic conditions and impairments.”
This reveals the compulsion at the heart of the state guardian scheme, which, rather than seeking to assist in accessing services, imposes state directed actions to meet state mandated outcomes. Furthermore, parents having a different perception of the problem, not accepting all the concerns raised by the professionals or not engaging with the process are logged as “risks” to their child’s wellbeing.
Alongside over 33,000 Scottish citizens, organisations and public bodies are voicing concern and opposition to this illiberal and authoritarian policy.
Unison, the public service union, carried out a survey of Health Visitors who will be named persons for the under 5s. Over half did not think the Named Person would be a good thing, they worry about ‘added responsibility’, increased workload’, ‘lack of qualified staff to ensure safe and effective delivery of service’ and even that they would have to ‘take responsibility “that should be parental.”’
Organisations and public bodies are voicing concern and opposition to this illiberal and authoritarian policy
Last week delegates at a conference of the EIS, the largest teaching union in Scotland, voted in favour of a motion calling on its council “to investigate and report on the workload, contractual and legal implications arising from the role of the Named Person and how the role can be achieved within a 35 hour working week and a 195-day working year”.
One of those supporting the motion described the Named Person scheme as “misguided, stupid and nonsensical” saying it only passed through the Scottish Parliament because MSPs did not understand its implications.
Calum Munro was right when he stated that this is not about child protection. But he defends a scheme that even John Swinney has stated bears no resemblance to that in legislation.
And he appears blind to the dangers of a universal scheme based on compulsory early intervention over anything from ‘mental health to a wider vision of happiness.’
Lesley Scott, Young ME Sufferers (Tymes) Trust, Scottish Officer