PARENTS have launched a withering attack on the Scottish Government's controversial named person scheme, branding it the "enemy of trust".
The Scottish Parent Teacher Council (SPTC) said that the provision, which was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court last week, risked creating a breakdown of in the relationship between families, schools health services and other authorities because of the way confidential information could be shared without permission.
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Judges at the UK's highest court found that the legislation, part of the Children and Young People’s Act, risks breaching European human rights laws and Ministers have pledged to make amendments before it goes forward.
But the SPTC said that safeguards must be put in place to ensure that the scheme was transparent for those involved and that personal details were not shared without consent of the parties concerned.
The SPTC statement said: "We are not lawyers or civil servants or politicians, we are an organisation committed to effective parental involvement in children’s education, but we could always see that there is a major problem with the Act. The key thing that has to be in place – or at least building - for good parental involvement, is trust.
"From our perspective, the Act was an enemy of trust, between parents and their child’s school, health services, social work, police and so on.
"If information about a family, parent or child can be shared without consent, the inevitable consequence is a breakdown of trust."
The statement went on to say that the idea behind the scheme "came from a good place", and that it was important to make sure that concerns about a child get addressed early, with co-ordination between services.
However, it added: "If we are asking parents to be partners in their children’s education, they have to trust the other partners to be honest and fair. "Sharing potentially sensitive information without permission is not only against the law - as found by the Supreme Court - it is also against what we, and the government with the National Improvement Framework, are trying to achieve."
The SPTC took the opportunity to take a swipe at its critics, saying that its concerns over the Act had repeatedly been dismissed.
It said: "While we are pleased that the ruling has instructed that the information sharing element of the Act must be changed, we are disappointed that it has taken so long to get here and that the genuine concerns of SPTC – which we have expressed over and over again – have consistently been dismissed and ignored.
"We have been characterised as the Awkward Squad, fundamentalists, right wing. We’ve even been accused of supporting child abuse. None of this is true."
And it went on to brand the scheme "dysfunctional", saying: "At a time when we know many families are finding it harder to get support for their child, we are worried about the money being spent on a service which, to us, is dysfunctional.
"We don’t believe that a parent or young person sharing their concerns, health details or any other issue should have to worry that this confidential information could be shared without their permission. It’s that simple."
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has said work has begun on the necessary amendments, and pledged that the scheme will be rolled out across Scotland "at the earliest possible date".