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Controversial guardian scheme proving “highly effective” in Highlands

The named person scheme will see every youngster under the age of 18 assigned a single point of contact - such as a teacher or health visitor -  to look out for their welfare
The named person scheme will see every youngster under the age of 18 assigned a single point of contact - such as a teacher or health visitor - to look out for their welfare

A senior councillor has attacked critics of the Scottish Government’s controversial state guardian plan – saying a pilot in the Highlands has shown that the policy is “highly effective”.

Opponents have been queuing up to rubbish the “named person” scheme, which will see every youngster in Scotland under the age of 18 assigned a single point of contact, such as a teacher or health visitor, to look out for their welfare.

Many have said it is entirely unnecessary for the vast majority of youngsters and another example of the “nanny state” interfering with families’ private lives.

But the chairman of Highland Council’s education, children and adult and services committee said last night that the fears were “wildly inaccurate”.

The scheme has already been operating in the area for several years as part of a pilot project.

Skye councillor Drew Millar insisted there was nothing to be feared by the roll-out of the system nationwide.

In response to a written question about the pilot that has been tabled at this week’s full council meeting, Mr Millar said: “As members will be aware from briefings, all evaluation and inspection over the last eight years makes clear that the practice model is proving to be highly effective in getting more early support to more children, and reducing the number of children with higher level needs.

“At a time when the number of looked after children, and the number of children at risk of harm, have been increasing across Scotland, they have been reducing in Highland because of the implementation of the named person role and other aspects of the Getting It Right For Every Child programme.

“That is why the programme has been introduced in legislation, and is now being implemented across Scotland, with similarly positive outcomes.”

The intervention emerged yesterday as the Conservatives continued to pile pressure on the Scottish Government to ditch the policy.

The party’s young people spokeswoman Liz Smith said: “Parents and professionals across Scotland have very acute concerns about this intrusive and unnecessary legislation, so for Nicola Sturgeon to say these are ‘unfounded’ is quite incredible.

“Nicola Sturgeon has made great play of being the consensus first minister, and after Thursday’s vote she will have to be.

“The first big test of this will be what she does with named person, and we will be pushing her all the way to scrap it.”

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