Children asked to think of Named Person as ‘head gardener’

Children were told Named person guardians would have overarching responsibility and be considered Head Gardener. Picture: Jane Barlow
Children were told Named person guardians would have overarching responsibility and be considered Head Gardener. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The SNP’s state guardian scheme has come under fresh attack after it emerged that children have been asked to think of their named person as the “head gardener”.

The analogy has come to light in a document created for the Children’s Parliament when the controversial legislation was being considered in 2012.

During workshops with 107 youngsters aged between nine and 12, the document related how they were encouraged to imagine Scotland as a garden, with each child as a plant growing within it.

Children were told “all the adults in their lives” were “gardeners” while the named person would have overarching responsibility and be considered “Head Gardener”.

Campaigners against the legislation claimed the description of the named person as the head gardener was another sign that the scheme would diminish the role of parents.

Referring to the named person scheme, the document said: “This was a complex idea for the children (aged nine to 12) to consider but going along with our Scotland as a garden theme the children discussed the role of Gardeners (all the adults in their lives) and the job of Head Gardener (the Named Person). 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. The overarching requirement of a Named Person (their Head Gardener) would be that this person’s key role is to keep children safe and to ensure good communication between people who are interested in the child. “

The “head gardener” concept was also referred to by the Scottish Government in its summary of children’s responses to the Bill.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for No to Named Persons (NO2NP), said: “We need to know if the First Minister endorses this description of Named Persons as ‘head gardener’ in the lives of Scotland’s children.

“If that is Government policy then the mums and dads of more than a million children are in danger of being reduced to tattie howkers in their own homes. Is that really the legacy Nicola Sturgeon wants to leave behind? When you speak to ordinary folk about the scheme, their concerns often boil down to one central point: it undermines the role of parents.”

A SNP spokesman said: “The named person policy is aimed at protecting children’s well-being. It is about supporting, not diminishing, the role of parents. The policy is widely supported by leading children’s charities and welfare organisations, as well as by the Scottish Police Federation, who say it will ‘help keep children safer’ – and has also been upheld by the highest court in Scotland.”