The Scottish Government’s controversial Named Person scheme creates an “impossible” burden for teachers, MSPs have heard.
At an evidence session of Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee yesterday, teachers warned of the bureaucracy the Named Person role creates.
The Named Person scheme appoints a state guardian for every child in Scotland. Under the scheme, professionals such as health visitors and head teachers are responsible for monitoring the “wellbeing” of all of the children in their care.
The Scottish Government is attempting to resurrect the Named Person scheme after the UK Supreme Court struck down central data-sharing provisions in a ruling last year.
Ministers have produced a code of practice to guide named persons on the intricacies of data sharing.
However, it has already been rubbished by legal experts, leading to calls for the plans to be scrapped altogether.
In the evidence session yesterday, Lorraine McBride, a member of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), told MSPs that being a head teacher is already a “difficult, difficult job”.
She said the idea that head teachers could be liable for the wellbeing of children means: “We worry ourselves sick every single day”.
Lisa Finnie, of the Scottish Guidance Association, also emphasised the difficulties involved.
Asking teachers to carry out all the named person functions on top of their current responsibilities, she argued, would be like “asking the checkout girl to go and fill shelves when she’s got a queue. You can’t do it. It’s impossible to ask people to do it.”
During the Education and Skills Committee meeting, MSPs also heard from Dr Ken Macdonald, Head of Regions at the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Remarkably, Macdonald claimed that he had never been completely satisfied with the legislation on Named Person.
However, it was his guidance in 2013 which gave a green light to information sharing in pilot versions of the scheme. He was later forced to withdraw it.
‘Rip up the Bill’
A spokesman for the No to Named Persons campaign, which has opposed the plan since 2014, commented:
“The Named Person scheme is holed below the water line and rapidly sinking under a tsunami of condemnation from experts and those expected to implement it.
“The draft code has been attacked on all sides by information watchdogs, teachers, lawyers and health visitors.
“The best alternative is to just rip up the Bill and forget it.”