SOCIAL workers and teachers are among those claiming to have received “very little” or “no” training ahead of the introduction of the controversial named person scheme.

Representatives said there were “insufficient resources” to train professionals to abide by the new legislation, with little awareness among families as to how it will affect their lives.

Their comments come as Education Secretary John Swinney pledged to provide extra cash over a longer period of time to “assist implementation” of the policy.

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He also said a key plank of the new law – a code of practice setting out how information on children can be shared between public bodies – will go before MSPs for final approval.

Herald View: Named person scheme requires more clarification

In a letter to Holyrood’s Education Committee, he said: “I accept that further financial resources, over and above that set out in the [bill], will be required to assist implementation and that this will be required over a longer period of time than the first year of implementation.”

The Government’s plans will see a “named person”, such as a teacher or health visitor, appointed to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland.

But last week focus groups containing teachers, youth workers, social workers, health visitors, teachers and child protection officers – as well as young people – raised concerns about the policy at the Scottish Parliament.

A report set to go before this week’s Education Committee said: “When asked what training participants have had so far on named persons, ‘very little’ or ‘none’ were the answers from the group.

“One person mentioned two days of training that ‘generated more questions than answers’.

“From a young person’s perspective, it was suggested that the extent to which children and young people have been consulted about this seems ‘very lacking’.”

The named person scheme was due to come into effect last August, but has been pushed back to 2018 after the Supreme Court ruled sections of it did not comply with the law.

In a bid to address these concerns, the Government is bringing forward changes to the legislation, including introducing a code of practice for information sharing.

Herald View: Named person scheme requires more clarification

Last week, an all-party Holyrood committee urged the Government to provide parliament with “a vote on the final version of the code”.

In his letter, Deputy First Minister John Swinney confirmed this would take place, while a special panel with an independent chair would be set up to ensure the code and other guidance is “workable, comprehensive and user friendly”.

He said the draft code – widely criticised for not offering sufficient clarity – was only “illustrative”, with officials now starting from “a blank sheet of paper”.

Mr Swinney insisted “the time is right for a positive awareness-raising campaign” to “make clear” to families how the named person scheme will work.

Last week’s focus groups saw agreement among professionals that there were currently “insufficient resources” for training to take place, with a lack of awareness among families.

The focus group report said: “The example of delays in mental health referrals was given and it was suggested that the named persons plans need to be meaningful or families would be disillusioned.

“Another attendee said that if the support services are not there then the named person sentiment is ‘hollow’.” Sheila Thomson, children and young people’s spokeswoman for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said public sector workers were being put in a “difficult position”.

They feared that “there will be consequences for not complying with the law, considering the support is not there for training and implementation”.

Simon Calvert, spokesman for the No To Named Persons (NO2NP) campaign group, said: “Families don’t like it. Professionals don’t like it. Nobody knows what is going on.”

HeraldScotland:

ANALYSIS by Alistair Grant: Flagship policy has become a thorn in the side for the Government

IT’S the flagship policy that’s become a thorn in the side for the Scottish Government.

It wants to appoint a “named person” to monitor the welfare of every child in Scotland, providing a point of contact so families can get access to the help and support they need. This would usually be a teacher or health visitor.

But critics insist the policy amounts to little more than Big Brother-style state intrusion, undermining parents and breaching privacy. They argue it could even pull much-needed resources away from vulnerable youngsters, creating more work for an already over-burdened social care system.

The No To Named Persons campaign group, which is spearheading the battle against the plans, took its case to the Supreme Court last year after a failed attempt to get the Court of Session to intervene.

There, judges said some aspects of the legislation breached rights to privacy and a family life under the European Convention on Human Rights.

They ruled proposals around the sharing of information between public bodies were “not within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament”. But the judges said the scheme was “unquestionably legitimate and benign”.

The Scottish Government was forced to go away and amend its plans, leading to a delay in the legislation being implemented.

Its new bill scraps the statutory duty to share information – replacing this with a “duty to consider” whether doing so would protect or help a child.

It also sets out provisions for a code of practice which will detail how information should be shared between public bodies. But confusion still exists over exactly how the named person scheme will operate, what information can be shared and when, and who will be responsible for what.

Herald View: Named person scheme requires more clarification

Meanwhile, the Faculty of Advocates and Law Society of Scotland are concerned the new bill doesn’t fully address the Supreme Court’s ruling. They said there was a lack of clarity, with professionals facing a complex task as they seek to apply the new rules. The Faculty of Advocates told MSPs “some of the criticisms of the Supreme Court will continue to apply if the bill as drafted is passed”.

Professional bodies representing health and education workers have also spoken out. The Royal College of Nursing said there was “confusion and nervousness” among staff, and fears that “members could find themselves exposed to professional risk that wasn’t there previously”. And the Educational Institute of Scotland – the country’s largest teaching union – said teachers could be left with less time in the classroom as a result of their named person duties.

The Scottish Government initially hoped the scheme would be in force by August last year, but this has been pushed back to 2018.

Education Secretary John Swinney will hope his latest moves will help clear up the ongoing issues once and for all.

In his letter to Holyrood’s Education Committee, he said the status quo was “not good enough”, with too many children and families struggling “to navigate services”.