NEW education secretary John Swinney is facing immediate opposition calls to “reconsider” controversial plans to introduce a “Named Person” for all Scottish children.
The Deputy First Minister, who was handed the education brief in yesterday’s cabinet re-shuffle, is also being urged to increase schools funding amid claims this has been cut by 10% since the SNP came to power.
The Tories back a full repeal of the named Person plan which is due to be rolled out across Scotland in August. Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith said today that Mr Swinney must address “genuinely held concerns” about the scheme which will see teachers and social workers fill the role as a point of contact for youngsters’ welfare.
There have been concerns about the intrusion into family life, but Ms Smith insists there are also major practical concerns.
“We believe the scheme is unworkable, and will have a massively detrimental impact,” she said.
“It is going to pile on mountains of extra work on the shoulders of teachers, health visitors and care professionals. As council leaders have warned, it may even put people off applying for senior teaching posts.
“I hope John Swinney will press the reset button and accept that people’s concerns are genuine and based in fact.
“With the election campaign now over, the SNP needs to reflect and reconsider. It’s time for the SNP to engage.”
Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to press ahead with the initiative and insisted many concerns are “unfounded.”
There are growing concerns among parents groups as well as among teaching and health visitors about the impact of the change.
Labour have called for the named Person scheme to be paused, but the Liberal Democrats and Greens have given their guarded support.
Labour’s Iain Gray is also calling on Mr Swinney to address funding cuts to education which have led to a 4,000 drop in teacher numbers since 2007 when the SNP first won power and growing class sizes.
Labour wants to raise the basic rate of tax by 1 pence and the top rate for high earners from 45 to 50 pence to provide additional revenues mainly to be invested in education.
Mr Gray says in a letter to Mr Swinney today: “If you do one thing as Education Secretary it must be stopping the cuts to education and skills.
“As a minority government minister you will be faced with a choice - you can either work with centre-left parties like Labour advocating greater investment in education and more support for our teachers, or you can work with the Conservatives to pursue even deeper cuts into our nation’s future.”