The family’s confidential information was shared without consent
Allan, who has two sons Stewart, now 11, and Robert, 17, said her
family – whose names have been changed to protect their privacy – fell
foul of the state child monitoring scheme more than two years before it
was scheduled to come into statutory force under the Children and Young
People (Scotland) Act last month.
After a new head teacher arrived
at Stewart’s school, the youngster – who has a rare genetic disorder
associated with learning difficulties – was moved from a supported
setting into a mainstream class.
Mrs Allan said: “He quickly
changed from being a happy little boy into a frightened school-refuser
who was unable to cope. His behaviour deteriorated, he tried to jump out
of windows and had to be physically restrained by school staff.”
agreed a home schooling arrangement with visits from a support teacher,
who, she said, “never did any teaching, but asked a lot of questions”.
progress under his mother’s supervision, she was keen for the local
authority to find him a place at a new, smaller school.
was also allocated a worker from the charity Parent to Parent, who
encouraged Mrs Allan to confide her concerns about Stewart, as well as
details of her elder son Robert’s mental health problems.
the information would be confidential, Mrs Allan felt able to offload
other pieces of private family information, including details of her
past, sometimes violent relationship with the boys’ father.
Stewart’s head teacher, who had declared herself to be “the voice of
all the children in the school”, called a multi-agency meeting, from
which Mrs Allan was deliberately excluded, to discuss concerns about his
The family fell foul of the scheme more than two years before it was scheduled to come into force
I feel that we were singled out to test the Named Person scheme
decision the family must accept “voluntary” social work support or be
referred to the children’s reporter, with the possibility of Stewart and
Robert being removed from her care.
The minutes of the meeting,
which the concerned mother eventually obtained, revealed that 17
different professionals had been invited to attend and share information
about the family.
Attendees included Robert’s high school
teachers, his mental health worker, other NHS and third sector services.
Apologies were noted from a police officer, the family GP and two
Several of the professionals had no previous
involvement with Stewart, but were nevertheless privy to discussions
about the “gender confusion” and “under-developed genitalia” peculiar to
his genetic condition, none of which he had wanted to be disclosed.
the wake of the recent Supreme Court judgment, which ruled the
information-sharing provisions of the Named Person scheme constituted a
breach of human rights, Mrs Allan believes the participants in her case
acted unlawfully by gathering information from multiple sources without
She said: “I could see the inaccurate information in the
minutes when I eventually got them through a subject access request, yet
there seemed little I could do about it.
“I’m not a loud or
aggressive person, in fact I’m very quiet and private, but my son was
going through a difficult time due to the changes made to his education
plan by the school.
“I feel that we were singled out to test the Named Person scheme, with disastrous consequences.”
Allan’s subsequent complaints to Perth and Kinross Council were
investigated, but not upheld, as information-sharing was said to be
permitted on the basis of wellbeing concerns.
The mother believes the participants in her case acted unlawfully
the Information Commissioner’s Office and Scottish Public Service
Ombudsman both confirmed mistakes had been made, the family were left
feeling violated and humiliated.
To add insult to injury, Stewart
was left without any co-ordinated support for months, despite having
been promised a package of services. While he is now settled at a new
school, his mother remains concerned that sensitive details about the
nature of his condition could follow him through his secondary
The case highlights the human rights breaches that the
Supreme Court said would be inevitable if the trigger for intervention
in family life was lowered from “risk of significant harm” to “risk to
wellbeing”, which is not statutorily defined.
Perth and Kinross
Council is cited as an example of best practice, yet one of its leaflets
tells parents that “if people working with you and your child are
worried or concerned about your child’s wellbeing, they can share
information with other people without permission”.
Minister John Swinney is due to make a statement to parliament this week
in advance of the Supreme Court’s Wednesday deadline for changes to the
Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman, Liz
Smith MSP, said: “Given the recent ruling from the Supreme Court, it is
quite natural that parents are expressing concerns about whether the
data-sharing that took place in local authorities which were already
piloting the Named Person policy, was, in fact, lawful.
“We know that many parents had grave reservations about what information was shared and by whom. They also worry that, in some
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