August 2017 start for Scotland’s Named Person scheme
3 hours ago
- From the section Scotland politics
government hopes to implement its named person scheme by August 2017
after a period of “intense engagement” on amendments.
Implementation of the scheme was halted after the Supreme Court ruled that data sharing provisions were unlawful.
Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs the government was committed to amending and enforcing the system.
The Tories want the scheme to be scrapped, while Labour wants children aged 16 and 17 excluded.
scheme, which would assign a named person to everyone under the age of
18 in Scotland, was originally meant to be rolled out on 31 August,
However, after a legal challenge some provisions of the system were ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Judges said the principles of the system were “legitimate and benign”,
but raised fears about information-sharing provisions which could breach
the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Scottish government
then moved to halt the planned implementation until amendments to the
Children and Young People Act were made.
Mr Swinney has since
held talks with public sector leaders and charities to change the
legislation and said the government will seek to bring the system into
force “as soon as practicable”.
deputy first minister said the government would undertake a three-month
period of “intense engagement” with key stakeholders and opposition
He said he wanted the scheme to be put into place “as quickly as possible”.
Mr Swinney said: “It is my ambition to work towards a commencement date and these provisions by August 2017.”
added: “The Supreme Court judgment provides us with an opportunity to
amend the information sharing provisions in the 2014 Act in a way that
improves the Named Person service and reassures parents and
practitioners and the wider public.
“It provides us with the
opportunity to continue in the spirit of shared purpose and consensus –
to getting it right for every child.”
The Scottish Conservatives said Mr Swinney faced “key questions”.
spokeswoman Liz Smith said she would repeat her calls for the scheme to
be “scrapped”, saying “it’s what parents, teachers and other
In the chamber, she asked for reassurance
that every local authority had been acting lawfully with the local named
person schemes they have been operating.
Mr Swinney replied that
these councils have been told to make sure the systems they develop are
within the framework of data protection and human rights rules.
Smith said many legal experts had raised serious concerns about the
scheme before the Supreme Court challenge, asking if the government had
made a mistake by moving away from a focus on “welfare” to “wellbeing”.
Scottish Labour, meanwhile, renewed calls for 16 to 18-year-olds to be removed from the remit of the system.
education spokesman Iain Gray said he supported the general principles
of the system, but said the policy has lost the confidence of many
families and that must be fixed.
He added: “It is absurd that
people the law says are old enough to vote, marry, and work are told by
the SNP that they need a Named Person. Simply tweaking the law to meet
the Supreme Court’s concern will not be enough.”
Mr Swinney conceded that work would need to be done to build confidence in the system.
said the main duty would be to address the points from the Supreme
Court ruling, but added he would consider removing older teens from the
remit of the system – while highlighting that 16 and 17-year-olds remain
Groups which led the legal challenge against the
system said Mr Swinney’s statement “would be laughable if it were not so
Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No to Named Persons
campaign group, said the human rights of parents had been “cavalierly
He said: “Whatever the deputy first minister may claim,
the named person scheme he ends up with in a year’s time will be very
different from the policy he wanted. Instead of focusing on saving face,
the government should be apologising to parents for ignoring their
“The ‘business as usual’ message which the Scottish
government had been sending out since the Named Person ruling, was in
danger of leading local authorities to carry on with unlawful sharing of
private information on families.
“Having spent years encouraging
the widespread illegal sharing of sensitive personal data, they should
now be doing everything they can to put a stop to it.”
Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union was broadly supportive
of the principles of the scheme but said it was appropriate to review
General Secretary Larry Flanagan said the
government should also look at the level of resources provided to
support the implementation of the scheme, in particular around staffing
and training at “already stretched” schools.
He added: “The named
person scheme is a significant piece of legislation, so it is important
that time is taken to ensure that it can be implemented effectively and
that questions related to staffing and resourcing and the practical,
legal and workload implications for named persons, most of whom will be
teachers, are addressed prior to implementation.”
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