Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill


Education & Skills Committee meeting, 4 October

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —
Gillian Fergusson, Depute Rector for Pastoral Care, on behalf of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools;
Lisa Finnie, President, Scottish Guidance Association;
Maria Pridden, Classroom Assistant and member of Unison;
Lorraine McBride, Headteacher and member of EIS;
Christine Cavanagh, Network Chair for the Lanarkshire area, National Day Nurseries Association;
and then from—
Dr Ken Macdonald, Head of ICO Regions, Information Commissioner’s Office;
Maureen Falconer, Regional Manager- Scotland, Information Commisioners Office.

Highlights / low points: "Finding a way round" human rights law appears to be the aim, and if parents don't subscribe to GIRFEC state dictated outcomes, as interpreted by 'professionals' using vague SHANARRI indicators, they want "clout" to make 'em do as they're told. Putting it all on to the SEEMiS database is required as well.

Professionals are still very worried about personal liability (and if not in court, it will be before professional bodies and/or in the media). An altogether lacklustre performance from them all as they clearly consider universal human rights to be an inconvenience.

The ICO representatives, Ken and Maureen, claimed not to have been "disappointed" with court ruling, as per embarrassing emails obtained via FOI, but that the government had been wrong, while admitting reputational damage to the regulator (also forgetting that they had agreed a joint statement with the 'GIRFEC team' in 2013 to free up information sharing under current legislation and being complicit in rubber-stamping the precursor to the illegal police Vulnerable Persons Database in 2012). While claiming expertise on the data protection 'regime', they failed to grasp the limiting provisions of the Human Rights Act.

Teachers ‘worrying ourselves sick’ over named person scheme problems (Evening Express)


Named Persons may deter teachers from becoming headteachers
I listened to this with a certain amount of morbid fascination.

It is staggering how little is understood by MSP's and local authorities, about the legislation and the Supreme Court judgment. They are completely in a pickle about 'wellbeing' and what it means. There is no possibility that they can operate a statutory 'wellbeing' policy without trampling on family rights or overloading themselves with needless low level cases.

They need to deal with genuine child abuse when it genuinely presents and not go fishing for phantoms. I really do pity the poor teacher cum Named Person who has to monitor several hundred children using several hundred indicators.

Why cannot anyone see the obvious flaw in the plan? They are all so incredibly self righteous and so very naive at the same time.

The scheme is set to fall in on itself but not before many, many families are messed around.

Someone in Government needs to press the kill switch and admit they got this one wrong.



Making a ‘dog’s dinner’ of Named Person legislation

Making a ‘dog’s dinner’ of Named Person legislation (TES, Henry Hepburn)

The lack of a fixed definition of the term ‘wellbeing’ is fuelling teachers’ anxiety

“Wellbeing” seems at first like a thoroughly uncontroversial word, especially in schools. Who, after all, wouldn’t want to ensure pupils’ wellbeing?

Yet that word became a bone of contention in Parliament last week – because, it seems, no one knows exactly what wellbeing is.

And this is not a matter of mere semantics. Teachers are deeply concerned about a lack of precision around such terms in relation to the under-fire Named Person scheme and the legislation it stems from. Without more clarity, educators fear, they could make mistakes and find themselves in legal trouble.

The Named Person scheme would provide each under-18 in Scotland with a single point of contact – often a teacher or headteacher – to oversee their welfare. But it hit a bump in the road last year when the Supreme Court in London ruled that the scheme could “give rise to disproportionate interferences” in family life.

Lack of clarity

Several educators gave evidence last week to the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee on the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill, when they expressed concern about a lack of clarity over what was expected of them.

A written submission from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) stated: “While the bill aims to bring ‘consistency, clarity and coherence’ to the practice of sharing information about a child’s wellbeing, there is an inherent issue: the definition of wellbeing is so broad that different practitioners will interpret this in various ways.”

SCIS said that the new legislation’s expectations of schools regarding issues of “significant wellbeing concern” were a “grey area” that should be “more clearly defined before any rationale for information sharing can be determined”.

Maureen Falconer, Scotland regional manager for the Information Commissioner’s Office, was asked to clarify the legal requirements that allow information to be shared about a child when wellbeing – rather than child-protection concerns – is the issue.

“Therein lies the conundrum,” Ms Falconer said. She added that there was a “little grey area” between a risk of “significant harm” to a child and a minor wellbeing issue that would not cause them harm.

Alison Preuss, a coordinator of the Scottish Home Education Forum and part of the No2NP (No to Named Person) campaign, told*Tes Scotland*after the meeting: “Wellbeing is not defined and has been said yet again today to be subjective, therefore it can’t possibly meet the requirement for precision in law.”

She said the situation was a “dog’s dinner”, which could end up back in court. She predicted that teachers would have to field many complaints from parents over subjective wellbeing information about their children.

The National Day Nurseries Association, meanwhile, said that there was anxiety among early-years staff over the legal status of named persons and what precisely their duties entailed.

‘Anxiety and frustration’

Primary headteacher and EIS teaching union representative Lorraine McBride, when asked by the committee whether increased paperwork could lead to mistakes being made, said: “If headteachers are not supported in this process, things can get missed.”

She said that headteachers were concerned about the expectations that were being placed on them and what happens if someone gets something wrong.

The perceived lack of clarity around wellbeing appears indicative of broader concerns. The Scottish Guidance Association, for example, advised the committee that, while it had been “largely supportive” of Scotland’s Getting It Right for Every Child approach, “the lack of consistency and clear direction from leaders, has caused anxiety, frustration and unmanageable workload issues within the [teaching] profession”.

The association’s president, Lisa Finnie, said last week that there was probably a need for the Named Person scheme, but that it suffered from inconsistent approaches around Scotland. Gillian Fergusson, a depute rector for pastoral care representing SCIS, said there was confusion around when a parent could opt out of the Named Person scheme.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The Named Person functions are integrated into and clarify the role of promoted teachers who already have responsibilities for providing advice, information and support to children and parents.

“We will continue to provide full support to all those who are involved in implementing this legislation, which will ensure children and young people get the right support, from the right people, at the right time.”


Education & Skills Committee meeting, 25 October

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —
Norman Conway, Detective Chief Inspector, Police Scotland;
Megan Farr, Policy Officer, Children & Young People’s Commissioner Scotland;
Maggie Murphy, Senior Curriculum Manager, Glasgow Kelvin College and representative of Colleges Scotland;
Judith Tait, Service Manager Strategic Scrutiny (Children and Justice), Care Inspectorate;
and then from—
Ben Farrugia, Head of Development & Innovation, Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland;
Donna McEwan, Practice Development Advisor, Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice;
Teresa Medhurst, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Scottish Prison Service.

CYPCS policy officer correctly clarified human rights law and reminded committee of legal threshold under intense questioning from MSPs who have yet to grasp the Supreme Court judgment. Police Scotland admitted to unlawful sharing of personal data using 2013 ‘guidance’ that lowered the non-consensual data processing threshold from significant harm to wellbeing.

NO2NP social media comment

Twitter comment

Named person guidance could see children’s information ‘stockpiled’, police warn (Evening Express)


Education & Skills Committee meeting,1 November

Education & Skills Committee meeting (video)

Evidence on Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill from —
Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour;
Sheila Gordon, Director of Children and Family Services, Crossreach;
Maggie Mellon, No to Named Persons Campaign;
and then from—
Kirsten Hogg, Head of Policy, Barnardo’s Scotland;
Alison Reid, Principal Solicitor, Clan Childlaw;
Professor Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive, Families Outside;
Eileen Prior, Chief Executive, Scottish Parent Teacher Council.

CLAN Childlaw explained that the bill does not change the current legal framework for sharing information (which it could not as all Holyrood law and policy are subject to overarching data protection and human rights legislation). The problem remains, however, that the current legal framework was wrongly and unlawfully interpreted in 2013 ICO/GIRFEC guidance and cascaded to all public and third sector service providers, including taxi drivers.

Hostile questioning by the committee towards Maggie Mellon and Eileen Prior, while children’s charties (in receipt of public funding) were overrepresented and opinions overrated, given their past failures to apply the correct threshold for consent to data sharing and intervention.

NO2NP comment

UK Column discussion (from 30 mins in)


SNP urged to reform named person plan

SNP urged to reform named person plan

Scottish ministers are being urged to go back to the drawing board on controversial plans for a named person scheme, with some who previously backed the idea now saying that it is unworkable.

It comes a week after an all-party Holyrood committee urged the government to reconsider its legislation, which would appoint a state-sponsored guardian for every child in Scotland.

Scottish Tory education spokesman Liz Smith MSP said: “The debate is no longer whether the named person policy is a good or a bad thing in principle but whether it is workable or not. The overwhelming response from those who will be charged to be named persons is that it is not. No longer does it have the support as the best policy for helping…
A NO2NP spokesman said the scheme was “holed below the water line and rapidly sinking under a tsunami of condemnation from experts and those expected to implement it. The draft code has been attacked on all sides by information watchdogs, teachers, lawyers and health visitors.”


'Named person' minister resigns over 'inappropriate behaviour

Scottish Government minister resigns over ‘inappropriate behaviour’ (Scotsman)

Mark McDonald has resigned as Nicola Sturgeon’s children’s minister after admitting inappropriate behaviour. The scandal over the conduct of UK politicians claimed its first Holyrood scalp when Mr McDonald released a statement admitting his behaviour may have made others uncomfortable. Mr McDonald,37, said he would remain as Aberdeen Donside MSP which he has served since the 2011 Scottish election.


Swiney (part) climbdown


(Page 26) Letter to education and skills committee from John Swinney seeking to save face by conceding code of practice will now be scrutinised by parliament. Clinging to the wreckage (on whose orders?)

Scottish Government urged to reconsider approach to named person code of practice (Scotsman)

Charm offensive for ‘named person’ safety scheme (Times)

Teachers and social workers 'not trained' on Named Person scheme (Herald)


Threat of second legal challenge to Named Person scheme

Threat of second legal challenge to Named Person scheme

Lawyers have written to Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC warning him ministers could face a second courtroom battle over the legislation if they do not refer it to the Supreme Court.

The letter, from Balfour and Manson LLP, representing the Christian Institute, says: `In the event the Bill passes substantially in its current form and you decline to make a referral under section 33, our client reserves its position in relation to bringing a further challenge in the courts.'

It marks the latest step in a sustained campaign against Scottish Government plans to appoint a named person - a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor - to look out for the welfare of all children up to the age of 18.

The Government suffered a major setback when Supreme Court justices ruled in 2016 that elements of the policy were incompatible with the right to privacy and family life as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
But counsel for the Christian Institute, Aidan O'Neill QC, said: `If the 2017 Bill becomes law in its current form, there are good prospects of another challenge successfully being taken to the courts against the 2014 Act (as amended) for failure to comply with the limits on legislative competence placed on the Scottish Parliament by the Scotland Act 1998.'

Mr O'Neill added that the changes fail to make it clear that the named person scheme is voluntary and not compulsory.

He said: `Nothing in the 2017 Bill takes up the requirement set out by the UK Supreme Court ... that the voluntary nature of the named person service be set out in clear, explicit and unequivocal terms so no parent is misled into believing that they might be required or compelled to comply with the suggestions of a named person or that any failure or refusal to comply with or co-operate with the named person might lead to escalation of intervention.'
Also reported in the Scotsman


Named person scheme legal bill tops £800,000

Named person scheme legal bill tops £800,000



More delays for Scottish government's named person plans

'Swinney's tweak' hasn't been quite so simple after all... :caked:

More delays for Scottish government's named person plans

The Scottish government's controversial plan to bring a named person scheme into operation is facing more delays.

Holyrood's education committee wants more assurance that information-sharing aspects of the policy comply with human rights law.

Convenor James Dornan has told Education Secretary John Swinney that MSPs cannot yet recommend parliament approves the legislation in principle.

They called for an "authoritative" code of practice on information sharing.
Changes to the legislation are now being considered but the latest development is likely to delay the process.

In his letter to the education secretary, Mr Dornan, an SNP MSP, said: "Based on the evidence heard to date, the majority of the committee do not consider that they are able to make a decision on whether to recommend that the general principles of the bill be approved at Stage 1 until the Scottish government has provided the committee with an authoritative draft of the code.

"By an authoritative draft, the committee means a draft that reflects changes in data protection law which will result from the passage of the UK Data Protection Bill and the subsequent Scottish government consultation on a draft code."
An excerpt from the letter appears to suggest possible nobbling of witnesses:

As you are aware some members of the Committee have questioned whether the Scottish Government sought to directly influence evidence to the Committee. In order to ensure we can remain entirely focussed on scrutiny of this bill, the Committee has asked if you could confirm that the Government's discussions with witnesses were limited to explaining the Scottish Government position, seeking deeper understanding of the issues stakeholders were raising and where appropriate discussing potential solutions.
Scotsman: Named Person scheme stalls as committee calls for more details

The letter also seeks assurances from Mr Swinney on questions over whether “the Scottish Government sought to directly influence evidence to the committee”. The issue was raised by Conservative member Oliver Mundell, and centres on meetings between the government and various organisations appearing before the committee.
Twitter comment thread


Health chief Ian Welsh to head new panel to ensure named person policy is "workable",

National popcorn supplies are dwindling.

Health chief Ian Welsh to head new panel to ensure named person policy is "workable", says John Swinney

The Scottish Governmentis to set up a panel to help persuade the public its named person policy is "workable". Deputy First Minister John Swinney will name Ian Welsh as the chair of the new panel which will provide expert advice to clarify the data protection issues which saw the original policy rejected by the Supreme Court.

Mr Welsh, chief executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland, and fellow panel members who have yet to be announced, will be expected to develop new guidance for named persons and other practitioners and report back by the end of 2018.
Hardly independent , given the HSCA was responsible for a series of videos supporting GIRFEC, including this. Hark at this:

“I passionately believe children and young people should be entitled to the same high standard of support no matter where they live, and know many parents of children living with disability or long term conditions say they benefit from having a central point of contact who can help them navigate the complex system of care," he said.

“That is why I fully support the creation of the named person service, with proportionate sharing of relevant information, within the law relating to data sharing and upholding children’s and human rights, to help children and young people achieve their potential and to support their wellbeing.
Total bullshit.

“Even though this code of practice will now not be ready until the new panel concludes its deliberations towards the end of next year, the Herald understands the Scottish Government intends to press ahead with the bill.”
This confirms that the committee lacks any meaningful role in scrutinising defective legislation.

We are now taking bets on who will be appointed to the propaganda panel. State sponsored charity CEOs are currently 'jockeying' for position as odds-on favourites, while Alan 'proportionate' Small is always free for a gaffe. Police Scotland also have quite a few 'gardeners' going spare with specialist experience of data theft.


John is disappointed

John Swinney’s (very prompt) response to the education and skills committee misses the point that parliament holds government to account, not the other way round. From the arithmetic, it looks likely that the Green MSP finally did the right thing and switched sides to give the opposition a 6/5 majority on the committee. Word has it that Harvie may be losing his grip and this is a policy that is losing Green votes hand over fist.

By taking the decision to suspend Stage 1 of the Bill, and therefore not to express support for the principles of the Bill, the Committee is casting doubt over the value of this process, and significantly delaying the implementation of the legislation.

I fear that this could undermine stakeholder confidence in the principle of the Named Person approach, and prolong the uncertainty many in the sector feel in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment of July 2016.

This is to the detriment of implementing the wider principles of Getting it right for every child – an approach to which I had thought everyone in the Chamber subscribed. In my view it is imperative to continue to give practitioners the confidence that they can continue to share information, in line with extant legislation, in the interests of
promoting the wellbeing of children. All interventions that undermine that confidence should be made with great care, and in full appreciation of the potential consequences.

For these reasons, I regret the decision the majority of the Committee have made, and urge the Committee to reconsider.

On the final matter you raise, the Government regularly discusses policy with all stakeholders, and will continue to do so in the interests of promoting better outcomes for children and families.
John only engages with nodding dogs, or those can be persuaded/trained to nod, and it has been claimed that pressure was put on witnesses giving evidence to the committee to support the government’s position.

Twitter has suggested reporting the alleged interference to Police Scotland but there's nobody left there to investigate. :rofl:


Scottish ministers accused of lobbying witnesses

Scottish ministers accused of lobbying witnesses (Times)

SNP ministers are facing claims of “nobbling” parliamentary witnesses in an attempt to neuter criticism of the party’s controversial named person policy.

Evidence has emerged of the government systematically meeting witnesses before they give evidence to the education committee, in what some MSPs believe is a deliberate attempt to water down criticism.

They also fear that officials have instigated supportive letters from charities and other bodies, whose reliance on government funding is making it harder for them to speak out.

The concerns follow repeated allegations of government meddling in the work of external organisations to try to water down or avoid public criticism.

John Swinney, the deputy first minister, and non-SNP members of the education committee are at loggerheads after he sidestepped concerns about interference…


Call for a public inquiry

Letter to James Dornan MSP from the Scottish Home Ed Forum (that's us!) and Tymes Trust on behalf of Families from the Fringe calling for the abandonment of the new bill and a public inquiry into the embedding of data theft into public policy.

Download pdf file


Bill kicked into long grass by committee

Well, well, well...:tea:

The bill has effectively been kicked into the long grass, thanks mainly to the sole Green MSP doing the right thing (finally).


The Committee considered a letter dated 30th November 2017 from
the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and the Committee’s approach to its Stage 1 report. George Adam proposed that the Committee should produce a Stage 1 report at this stage of the Committee’s scrutiny of the Bill. The proposal was disagreed to by division: For 5 (George Adam, James Dornan, Richard Lochhead, Ruth Maguire, Gillian Martin); Against 6 (Ross Greer, Daniel Johnson, Johann Lamont, Oliver Mundell, Tavish Scott, Liz Smith); Abstentions 0.

Oliver Mundell proposed that the Committee should extend the period of Stage 1 scrutiny to provide the Committee with the opportunity to scrutinise a draft Code of Practice alongside the Bill. The proposal was agreed to: For 6 (Ross Greer, Daniel Johnson, Johann Lamont, Oliver Mundell, Tavish Scott, Liz Smith); Against 5 (George Adam, James Dornan, Richard Lochhead, Ruth Maguire, Gillian Martin); Abstentions 0.

The Committee therefore agreed to seek an extension from the Parliamentary Bureau at Stage 1. The Committee agreed to write to the Presiding Officer in his capacity as Chair of the Bureau and to provide its letter to the Cabinet Secretary dated 29th November as context for its request. The Committee also agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary highlighting that the reason for the decision to extend Stage 1 is to ensure that the Committee can undertake informed scrutiny of the legislation.
MSPs vote to stall named person bill consideration (BBC report, still using wrong terminology - welfare instead of wellbeing)


SNP’s Named Person scheme on brink of collapse

SNP’s Named Person scheme on brink of collapse (Scotsman)

MSPs have never voted on a bill at stage one without a committee report backing the general principles of the legislation, so the MSPs’ decision will cause a significant delay.

The committee’s stance ignited a row with Education Secretary John Swinney, who has said a code of practice for the Named Person Scheme could not be produced until September next year “at the earliest”.

Some members argued that without one, it was impossible for teachers and others responsible for the scheme to know what their legal responsibilities might be.
SNP's state snooper timetable in tatters: Named Person scheme could be stalled until 2019 (Express)

Deputy First Minister John Swinney's bid to salvage the Named Person scheme tonight lay in tatters following a knife-edge education committee vote.

A majority of MSPs on the committee are furious the Scottish Government has not published a detailed code of practice setting out the rules and guidance around the role of teachers and health visitors who will act as Named Persons.

Mr Swinney has previously said this could not be produced until September 2018 "at the earliest" while the committee argues it should reflect changes in data protection law being made by the UK Government next April or May.

Parliamentary rules mean the Children and Young People (Information Sharing) (Scotland) Bill cannot proceed until the education committee report has been completed.


Scottish Parliament petition calls for a public inquiry into the human rights impact of GIRFEC data processing

Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss on behalf of Tymes Trust and the Scottish Home Education Forum (joint petitioners)

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to initiate an independent public inquiry into the impact on human rights of the routine gathering and sharing of citizens’ personal information on which its Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) policy relies.
Background to the petition

Previous action taken to resolve issues

Petition pdf