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Is Named Person scheme paternalistic?

Scotland's Children and Young People Act has introduced the idea that every child in Scotland should have a Named Person, an official of the state, to act as their central point of contact with the state. positive as this may sound there are significant fears that this policy represents excessive paternalism, undermines the rights of the family and wastes the time and talents of the limited number or professionals available.

Tom Peterkin in The Scotsman describes how children are being 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”."

Today the Centre for Welfare Reform has published a discussion paper by Robin Jackson which questions the value of this policy. As Dame Anne Begg, in her Foreword to the paper states:

"To me, the Named Person scheme has become a huge mallet to crack a small nut. Yes, some children “fall through the net”. Yes, for some families no-one is joining up the dots to see that the family is in crisis and the children are in a vulnerable situation. But I find it hard to believe that the answer to either of these is to appoint an external Named Person for all children, especially when resources are already stretched to provide the support for the families who need it."

As Robin Jackson further argues:

"The principal objection to the Named Person scheme that has been advanced is that it constitutes an unjustified interference with the right to private and family life and home protected under the terms of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights."

It is to be hoped that Scotland might reconsider a policy about which such considerable reservations exist.

The report is available to read at: