The Scottish Government has announced a major u-turn in relation to its controversial named person policy following a Supreme Court ruling.
Originally, Ministers wanted the new law to enable information about children to be shared across agencies without the knowledge of parents. Education Secretary, John Swinney this week announced that this will only be permitted against the will of parents if there is an “overriding” interest to do so, such as to prevent a crime.
In addition, the Scottish Government will make it clear that the scheme is voluntary and parents can reject advice from named persons without this raising suspicion with the authorities.
The change follows a ruling last year by the UK Supreme Court which found aspects of the SNP’s state guardian legislation unlawful.
Named persons will have to monitor and report on 14,500 children of school age and 5,300 children up to the age of 5 in the Scottish Borders.
The Scottish Conservatives said while the clarification on data sharing was welcome, serious concerns about the legislation remain.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “Parents in the Borders have been rightly concerned about this scheme, which they see as an unacceptable intrusion into family life.
“In the Borders, teachers will be expected to monitor and report on 14,500 children with no extra funding from the Scottish Government and minimal training.
“There is a real risk that teachers and health workers with already very demanding workloads are going to struggle. By forcing them to monitor every child, my concern is that it will actually make vulnerable children more likely to miss out on the help and support they need.
“The altered scheme proposed by the Scottish Government still raises many questions. It’s not too late for the Education Secretary to rethink the whole policy and instead set out plans to support vulnerable children without unnecessarily intruding into family life.”