Let’s face it. News from Scotland hardly ever makes it across the Atlantic. Probably the last event you remember from there was the failed referendum to secede from Great Britain several months ago. But one might say that being out of the limelight gives social engineers just the cover they need to perfect a new form of government oversight that will hardly stay confined to the Scottish borders.
Just a year ago, the Scottish Parliament passed the Children and Young People Bill by a vote of 103-0, with 15 abstentions. It lays out a plan to assign a government worker — otherwise known as a “named person” — to oversee the life of every child from the cradle to age 18. As the implementation deadline in 2016 approaches, officials are trying to decide exactly how this will work. Now, it seems they want to move beyond their statutory limits to a wider net following the so-called P-20 model. The P stands for prenatal, and the 20 for the average age during which many enter the workforce.
Newly published guidelines call for the named person to be picked for each child around the seventh month of pregnancy. Each expectant mom then gets to meet with this person and a midwife in the family home. The document states, “Where additional wellbeing needs are anticipated at birth the prospective Named Person should be involved in planning and providing supports to eliminate, reduce or mitigate risks to wellbeing.” Although all details have not been finalized, it appears the initial named person would be a health care worker who would be succeeded by a teacher around the time the child starts school.
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A number of teachers are leery of taking on the extra work load. According to Liz Hunter of the Scottish Secondary Teacher’s Association: “Our concerns with it would be the time it would take the teachers to compile the work to support the child properly. It would be the time for task. The named person would be the coordinator for the children’s plan. In that plan they would have to speak to the parents, they would have to speak to the child, they have to speak to, if they had one, a social worker or a healthcare professional or an educational psychologist or a speech and language therapist.”
The Scottish government claims the initiative was started as a geographically limited pilot project after parents requested a “single point of contact” for help or advice. If so, there are undoubtedly many more parents who don’t want these state guardians breathing down their necks. They realize they are the persons named to watch over their children by an authority wiser than any parliament. A more likely motivation for the social experiment is to accommodate the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. That means after the Scots iron out the kinks, it will be trotted out as a model for other countries.