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JUN 11

POSTED BY: Akatech Solutions | | DATE: June 11, 2016. | Source: Telegraph.co.uk

Teachers have raised a series of questions about the SNP's named persons schemeCREDIT: PA

Scotland’s teachers have warned there is a “big black hole” in the SNP’s plan to allocate every child a state guardian two months before they will be expected to take on the controversial role.

Delegates at the annual general meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the country’s largest teaching union, backed a motion calling on its council to investigate and report on the "workload, contractual and legal implications arising from the role of the named person".

David Baxter, a council member, said he did not know what was supposed to happen outside of school hours or in holidays and predicted that children will end up several named persons to cover the entire calendar year.

Fellow council member John Swinburne described it as a “misguided, stupid, nonsensical piece of legislation” that only managed to get passed at the Scottish Parliament because the MSPs did not understand its implications.

Speaking ahead of the keynote address by John Swinney, the new Education Minister, this morning, he warned that the scheme would only divert resources away from vulnerable children.

In another headache for Mr Swinney, teachers also called for a ballot on strike action over workloads associated with new National qualifications, which replaced Standard Grades.

The warnings at the Dundee gathering came only two days after the Conservatives failed in a last-gasp attempt to delay the full introduction of the plan in August. Teachers will take on the named person role for pupils, with health visitors adopting it for pre-school children.

Like Mr Swinburne, the Tories argued that allocating every child a guardian would increase the risk of vulnerable children slipping though the net, but Mr Swinney accused them of scaremongering.

Ministers argue the measure is needed so that potential cases of abuse are spotted early but it is being challenged in the courts by campaigners arguing it breaches parents’ human rights.

But it has been reported that as few as eight council staff had to cover for 80 named persons during school holidays in Moray, where the system is being trialled.

John Swinney will speak to the EIS conference on Saturday CREDIT: PA

Mr Baxter told the conference: "There appears to be a big black hole surrounding the provision of the service that needs to be questioned, namely teachers' contractual rights. The undertaking of this role will require time and it will require resources, and all of this has to fit into our terms and conditions."

He added: "There are questions to be answered. What happens during holidays? What happens out of hours? What happens if the post is shared? Who then is designated as the named person?”

He said local authorities who ignore these questions are “at risk of burying their head in the sand and ignoring the potential risk”, before warning: “The last thing our profession needs is another great idea brought in on the cheap."

Mr 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."

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No to Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign, said: “Given his angry denunciation of those who disagree with his Named Person policy, this is going to make Mr Swinney's visit to the EIS conference very interesting.

“He's been trying to suggest that only Tories oppose the Named Person. I don't think the EIS fit that profile. He's tried assiduously to ignore the concerns of the professionals whom he is burdening with the job of Named Person. That is coming back to haunt him now.”

The Scottish Government said it was committed to tackling bureaucracy and claimed a Named Person trial in the Highlands had reduced teacher workload.

A spokesman said: “We have provided guidance on arrangements over the holiday periods to ensure that young people’s interests are safeguarded at all times. Local authorities are responsible for putting in place arrangements to ensure continuity of the service during holiday periods."

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