Pupils in Scotland are to receive a government-funded guide to the role of the controversial Named Person setting out how they should approach them “to talk about any worries” and seek advice.
It is part of a media campaign which is being launched by the Scottish Government in an effort to explain the embattled scheme. It has also been confirmed that teachers won’t fulfil this role during school holidays, when it will be taken over by council staff to be contacted independently.
The leaflets confirm that the named person, usually a teacher, will contact other services, such as social workers, if they grow concerned about a youngster’s wellbeing. The Named Person scheme has proved hugely controversial and the Tories will step up moves to have it scrapped ahead of its August roll-out as MSPs debate the issue at Holyrood this week.
Preston Lodge High School in Prestonpans, East Lothian, is among the schools which has already informed pupils on its website that they are to be given a leaflet setting out information about the Named Person scheme.
It adds: “The Scottish Government will be launching a media campaign to raise awareness of the Named Person role and how this fits with the Children and Young People Act.
“East Lothian Council will publicise national materials through social media, on our websites and through pupil post.”
The named person will be a health visitor pre-school, and a headteacher, guidance teacher or other promoted member of staff once the youngsters go to school.
The leaflets state that the named person will be available to “listen, advise and help” children who go to them. They will also contact other services if they have any concerns about a youngster’s wellbeing. It also makes it clear that there is no obligation to accept the offer of advice or support from a named person and that they do not “replace or change” the role of the parent.
Simon Calvert, spokesman for No to Named Persons, which is spearheading opposition to the scheme through a court action in a bid to have the law declared illegal, said: “Many parents receiving these letters will be perplexed. This may be the first they have heard about having a named person charged with monitoring whether they are keeping their children happy.
“Under the new law, a named person can snoop on your family, share your confidential data and make plans for your child’s life – all without you having any idea it is going on. Parents and professionals who have actually read the law and the guidance know that it is going to invade their privacy.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are consulting with stakeholders on how best to make sure that information about the policy is widely available.”