The Un-named Per­son de­ba­cle

Strangers will f ill in dur­ing school hol­i­days

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Michael Black­ley SCOT­TISH PO­LIT­I­CAL EDI­TOR

EV­ERY child will be as­signed a ‘com­plete stranger’ as their Named Per­son dur­ing the school hol­i­days, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has said.

Of­fi­cials in coun­cil ed­u­ca­tion de­part­ments will be asked to act as Named Per­sons when teach­ers are on hol­i­day.

It means par­ents will be ac­count­able to back-of­fice staff who have no pre­vi­ous re­la­tion­ship with their child for 13 weeks a year.

The pro­posal is con­tained in new guid­ance is­sued to coun­cils by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, fol­low­ing con­cerns raised by teach­ing unions about how the scheme would op­er­ate dur­ing school hol­i­day pe­ri­ods.

It un­der­mines the stated pur­pose of the leg­is­la­tion, which was specif­i­cally cre­ated to ap­point a sin­gle, named in­di­vid­ual to over­see the well­be­ing of ev­ery child.

The news comes only days after par­lia­ment re­jected calls from the Tories to put the scheme on hold.

From Au­gust 31, ev­ery child will be as­signed a state guardian from birth un­til 18. In most cases, health work­ers will take on the role un­til the child reaches school age, when a teacher will take over.

The new guid­ance says: ‘Dur­ing school hol­i­days, the lo­cal au­thor­ity must con­tinue to make ar­range­ments for the pro­vi­sion of the Named Per­son ser­vice. This could in­volve an of­fi­cer in the ed­u­ca­tion ser­vice.’

Last week, it emerged that Mo­ray Coun­cil, one of the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties pi­lot­ing the Named Per­son scheme, was forced to ask as few as eight work­ers to cover for 80 Named Per­sons dur­ing school hol­i­days.

Crit­ics say repli­cat­ing the ap­proach across Scot­land’s 32 coun­cil ar­eas will re­sult in ‘chaos’.

The EIS teach­ing union has said it would not al­low its mem­bers to per­form the role of the Named Per­son dur­ing school hol­i­days.

Scot­tish Tory ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Liz Smith said: ‘This is yet another as­pect of the leg­is­la­tion which hasn’t been thought through. The re­sult is an ex­tremely un­sat­is­fac­tory sit­u­a­tion for par­ents, chil­dren and the Named Per­sons.

‘It’s bad enough for fam­i­lies that their child will have a Named Per­son with the power to in­trude on their lives. But for this per­son to be a com­plete stranger is worse still.’

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘We have pro­vided guid­ance on ar­range­ments over hol­i­day pe­ri­ods to en­sure young peo­ple’s in­ter­ests are safe­guarded at all times.’

An opinion poll pub­lished last week showed nearly two-thirds of Scots be­lieve ap­point­ing a Named Per­son for ev­ery child is an ‘un­ac­cept­able in­tru­sion’ into fam­ily life.

More than 33,000 peo­ple have signed a pe­ti­tion call­ing for the scheme to be scrapped.

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