Named Persons may deter teachers from becoming headteachers

Changes have been made to the named person policy. Picture: Getty
Changes have been made to the named person policy. Picture: Getty
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The controversial named person scheme could deter recruitment of a new generation of headteachers, MSPs have been warned.

Headteacher Lorraine McBride, of Greenhills Primary in North Lanarkshire, admitted many of her colleagues were “worrying themselves sick” over the extra burden they face when taking on the role. She fears it may contribute to the pressures which sees many turning their backs on being heads.

Plans to introduce a named person for every youngster in Scotland, usually a teacher or health visitor, have been revived by the Scottish Government after being ruled illegal by the UK High Court last year.

• READ MORE: Named Persons to receive just a day of training

It places a duty on teachers and health visitors involved to pass on information about a child’s “well-being” if they feel there is an issue, but confusion is growing about what this means in practice.

Ms McBride, who is a named person for 240 children, told Holyrood’s education committee paperwork is a “huge burden” which is increasing.

She said: “Recruitment of headteachers is just dire and people don’t want to do the job which is a shame because it is a fabulous job… but as the workload increases, and this one small part of that increase in the workload, I worry about what the next step for the recruitment and retention of headteachers.”

She added: “We worry that the administrative support will not be there… if head teachers are not well supported within that process I think things can get missed.”

Teachers are “worrying ourselves sick” about the decisions taken over children, Ms McBride told the committee, and need some protection against becoming legally liable as a named person. Committee convener James Dornan said the government has confirmed named persons will not be individually legally liable, but has to make this clear to those affected.

• READ MORE: Scots teachers could face court under new Named Person plan

Lisa Finnie from the Scottish Guidance Association, who is a named person for 200 pupils, said she felt teachers do three jobs – teaching, school-based paperwork and then “3am e-mails” working at home.

She said: “It’s like asking the checkout girl to go and fill the shelves when she’s got a queue. We can’t do it and it’s impossible to ask people to do it.”

She added: “There is a need for the named person in terms of delivering a fair and consistent approach… What I’m seeing at the moment is not a consistent approach.”