Teachers call for probe into how Named Persons plan would work

Teachers have called for an investigation into the implications of the Named Person policy amid fears over a 'big black hole' in how the service will be provided.

Education Secretary John Swinney will address the conference today. Picture: PA

Delegates at the EIS annual general meeting in Dundee backed a motion calling on the union’s council to investigate and report on the “workload, contractual and legal implications arising from the role of the Named Person”.

The policy, due to be rolled out across Scotland in August, will assign a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to monitor the welfare of under-18s.

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Speaking in favour of the motion, EIS council member David Baxter said that while there was support for the provisions under the Children and Young People (Scotland) 2014 Act, he believed extra resources were needed.

He said: “There appears to be a big black hole surrounding the provision of the service that needs to be questioned, namely teachers’ contractual rights. The Named Person role as a statutory responsibility cannot be ignored.

He added: “What happens during holidays? What happens out of hours? What happens if the post is shared? Who then is designated as the Named Person?”

Mr Baxter continued: “Any local authority that claims this is merely a continuation of good practice is at risk of burying their head in the sand and ignoring the potential risk.

“Make no mistake, there is a huge potential for this to become yet another driver of excessive workload for promoted and non-promoted teachers.”

Fellow council member John Swinburne said the policy would create a “vast, expensive bureaucracy to no effect”.

He added: “It will divert resources from vulnerable children who really need them and it has been got through because people don’t understand the implications of this.It is a misguided, stupid, nonsensical piece of legislation, and who will pick up the tab for it? It’s high time that we’re really, really clear about that.”

Meanwhile, the possibility of a teachers’ strike has moved closer after delegates backed a motion calling for a ballot if their workload is not cut.

The union is currently holding a ballot on action short of a strike which is due to close next Thursday. It would be up to the union’s ruling council to decide when to hold any subsequent strike ballot.

Education Secretary John Swinney will address the conference today. The EIS is Scotland’s largest teaching union.

The dispute between the EIS, Scottish Government and Scottish Qualifications Authority centres on claims of excessive workloads for secondary teachers.