Named person garden analogy sows seeds of mistrust

‘Imagine, children, that Scotland is a garden and you are a special plant growing in it. All the adults in your lives are gardeners and the named person is the head gardener.’

This is what more than a hundred children were told when the Scottish Government’s embattled Named Person scheme was first being put forward.

Scotland’s Children’s Parliament met with schoolchildren around the country and planted the strange analogy in their minds.

Planting ideas

The group, which offers a platform for children to “voice their ideas, thoughts and feelings”, sought to teach children about the Named Person legislation.

To help pupils understand, it encouraged them to imagine that Scotland is a garden, and that every child is a special plant growing within it.

Kids were then told that “all the adults in their lives” are “gardeners”, but that the Named Person is the “head gardener”.

Undermining parents

The Children’s Parliament’s response to Holyrood’s Education and Culture Committee consultation in July 2013 claimed that children “identified that all adults – family members and professional people – have and share equally a duty to make sure all children are healthy, happy and safe”.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No to Named Persons campaign (NO2NP), said: “When you speak to ordinary people about the scheme, their concerns often boil down to one central point: it undermines the role of parents.

“When advocates of Named Persons talk in this kind of unguarded way, they confirm the suspicions of those who think the Named Person will become a kind of co-parent.”

“In fact, it’s worse than that. Because if parents are just one ‘gardener’ among many, and the Named Person is the ‘head gardener’, it’s quite clear who is ultimately in charge.”

Breaking confidence

The Scottish Government’s scheme took another heavy blow yesterday, when its plans to recruit GPs, housing officers and voluntary groups to snoop on Scottish families emerged.

NO2NP uncovered minutes from a board set up to oversee the implementation of the scheme.

A document dated February 2013 reveals that housing officers are expected to report aspects of a child’s ‘wellbeing’ to named persons after visiting a home.

The document also suggests that doctor-patient confidentiality could be overridden.

Legal challenge

The Named Person scheme is due to come into force in August this year, although a legal case against the plans is currently being considered by UK Supreme Court judges.

They will deliver their verdict in the coming months and have the power to put a halt to the legislation.

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