Michael Russell blog – Getting it right in Forfar

michaelrussell_178x200Everything the Scottish Government does for and with children and young people has just one ultimate aim: we want to get it right for every single child and young person in Scotland, making this the best country in the world for them to grow up in.

They have an absolute right to expect the most positive outcomes possible – and we all have a responsibility to make sure they are safe and healthy, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included and achieving.

Yes, it’s a lofty ambition and yes, there is more to do. Our Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach is the key to making sure we can all discharge that responsibility. Across the universal services of education and health – and in more specialist services when they’re needed – GIRFEC provides a common language and a consistent way for people to work together.

I’m looking forward to visiting Strathmore Primary School in Forfar today because I know that the GIRFEC approach is working well for them in practice and is enhancing their delivery of the curriculum. They are using the concept of wellbeing to support pupils and their families more effectively and I’m keen to hear from some of the families who are seeing positive benefits from the approach.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that the wellbeing of our children and young people must be our number one priority – and this is a key focus of Curriculum for Excellence. We need to continue to see schools using the GIRFEC approach to develop their practice and improve outcomes for children and young people.

GIRFEC is about offering proportionate and appropriate support when it’s needed. Parents and carers are absolutely key here. The vast majority do a terrific job of raising their children to become responsible citizens, confident individuals and effective contributors to society. But I suspect we could all do with a little extra help and support from time to time, whether it’s the terrible twos or knowing what to do for the best when teenagers push the boundaries. Knowing that public services will have a duty to provide that support is something to be welcomed.

We believe this gives us the best chance of creating a Scotland where the rights of children and young people are not just recognised, but rooted deep in our society and in our public services. A Scottish society where the wider community looks out for our children and helps their parents and carers to give them the positive start in life they deserve.

Michael Russell

Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning

Have your say

Join in the discussion and help us make Scottish Education even better.

  • Archie

    Amazing how according to wee Eck the SNP are an open and honest govt . Funny then that when parents criticize this peado loving policy they close the comments or de-list the blog to make them harder to find .

    You got to love the SNP's idea of democracy .

  • Macmillan

    You won't get answers as Engage does not respond and now they've closed down comment on all recent items

  • Archie

    This is a very very dangerous piece for legislation. The proposal implies every child is at risk, and every family is struggling, which we know is not true and in fact undermines the role and responsibilities of parents. What this does show is that the SNP has a complete lack of trust and respect for the role of the parent .

    What happens when the wishes of the families are in conflict with the named person ?

    What happens when a family refuses consent to share their personal information ?

    Some answers would be good !!!

  • Macmillan

    Noticed how negative comments about GIRFEC are not now coming up on the first page of a search despite the chronological sequence? Engage strikes again, delivering the government message, right or wrong, at the expense of the taxpayer and free speech.

  • Diane

    Wow, Scotland really is entering the dark ages. To the sane, get out of there while you can. I am not joking. This is sinister wrapped up as benign. Even the idiots who are going to administer it cannot see it

  • B Mitchell

    I think the public should make a deal with the SNP on this tbh. How about …

    You pass the named person without an opt in/out clause with parents having a clear choice and we dont vote for you at election time.

    Seems like a fair deal to me .

  • B McIntosh

    This bill is a disgrace and is being forced onto the scottish people weather they like it or not . I have read several posts not only on this blog but on the govt website and from the minister who introduced this bill where they clearly state its not being forced onto parents , Really ? So the named person is optional then and parents have a real choice in this ?

    No they DO NOT and anyone who tries to say otherwise is a liar. By the very definition if you have no choice then it isnt optional and if it isnt optional then its compulsary , isnt it ?

    This is not acceptable . Im an adult and im perfectly capable of making the decisions that are best for me and my family. And i will NOT be told by any politician what to do . Lets be honest politions are not the best people to tell anyone anything .

    If they are not awarding themselves pay rises when thousands are losing their jobs, or making fraudlent expence claims that any normal person would be in jail for then they are spending public money and ignoring the law (FOIA) to try and it cover up. And you want us to take lessons from you lot ? Over my dead body ! I'd actually go as far as echoing the comments from the poster above … try it and you'll see me in court .

  • Debbie Forsythe

    Mr Russell are you trying to tell us that you and the SNP or even the head teacher at school knows what's best for my child more then my husband or i ? I certainly hope not as that is an insult to every loving and law abiding parent in this country . Im not an abuser and HOW DARE YOU or that nanny party of yours class me the same as a child abuser . I love , care and protect my child and to be treated the same as someone who neglect their kids and a damn insult .

    Your party use the excuse that "We outline the principles of GIRFEC and the need for all of us to share information and this is now something families have come not just to accept but to value highly as well."

    That is complete and utter nonsence and you know it . How can families come to accept anything when you intentionally keep them in the dark ? When a parent in the know does ask a question all they get is some govt official or teacher speaking to them as tho they know nothing and are a child . Or get dictated to which is quite appropiate for the SNP as from a public point of view you are quickly being seen by the country as nothing more than a party of dictators . Your govt or named person will NOT tell me what is best for my child , And if your busybody named person even attempts to then you'll be seeing me in court when i sue your govt and party for infringing my families human rights .

    I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR YOUR POOR EXCUSE OF A POLITICAL PARTY EVER AGAIN AS YOU ARE NO BETTER NOW THAN WHAT HITLER WAS ! (AND I WILL BE SHARING THE ENGAGE BLOG LINK ALL OVER THE INTERNET SO THAT NOT ONLY THE POEPLE OF SCOTLAND BUT THE WORLD CAN SEE WHAT IT IS THAT YOUR PARTY ARE PROPOSING)

    Here's a couple of nice quote for you and our supreme overlord (wee eck)

    As long as the govt is perceived as working for the benefit of the children
    the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and
    almost any deprivation .

    “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”

    Both quotes from Adolf Hitler 1937

  • Bill Casey

    Sections 1.3 and 1.4 of the Privacy Impact Assessment do state the areas of risk,but there seems to be a suggestion that the impact problem is primarily one of security ,which is a fundamental misunderstanding of privacy and data protection.

    Section 2 of the assessment is superficial in its references to privacy risk–it is not at all clear that there is even a basic understanding of privacy, its nature and significance. This is compounded by the reference in section 2.8 to ”the eight data sharing principles of the Data Protection Act 1998."

    This description amounts to a serious and fundamental misunderstanding of data protection. The Principles apply to all aspects of data processing and are not there primarily to facilitate data sharing.

    The risks specified in section 3 and the risk register are overwhelmingly about security matters except for the first item which concerns diminution of trust threatening effective social work. Nowhere is there any consideration of the notion that privacy is about private ‘space’ to allow the development of the personality of the individual.

    The European Court of Human Rights has determined that “…the guarantee afforded by Article 8 of the Convention is
    primarily intended to ensure the development, without outside interference, of the personality of each individual in his relations with other human beings.”

    Data protection is not the same as privacy; nevertheless, the Privacy Impact Assessment is flawed and incomplete without having a proper understanding of the right to private life, nor can compliance with the fairness principle be properly addressed without understanding the nature of and the need for privacy. There are, of course, circumstances where a child’s right to privacy needs to be overridden in an effort to protect them from harm but the starting position must still be that the child / family has a right to a private life. As presently drafted, this Bill falls far short of that position by permitting and encouraging routine data sharing on all children and families.

    To be clear, while there are several alternatives to consent, every one of the alternatives has a requirement of necessity. This should be neither surprising nor objectionable: you can share information when you need to, and whether or not you need to, you can share information with permission.

    But the Data Protection Act simply does not allow – anywhere – for information to be shared without consent when it is not necessary to do so.

    It follows that any legislative provision which purports to allow information sharing which is neither consensual nor necessary, will fall foul of the Data Protection Act and the EU directive from which the Data Protection Act derives.

    Of course, the concerns about GIRFEC are that it does precisely that.

    Information sharing is not necessary because it is lawful; it is lawful when it is necessary.

    But being an MSP Mr Russell you should already know that now shouldnt you . And you should already know that the scottish govt are opening themselves up to an avalanche of lawsuits if this passes as it written just now . You dont have the authority to pass laws that are not data protection compliant.

    Under the terms of The Scotland act 1998, data protection and human rights are matters reserved for Westminster. The Act sets out the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. Rather than listing the matters over which the Scottish Parliament does control (devolved powers), it specifies the matters over which it does not (reserved matters). It further designates a list of statutes which are not amenable to amendment or repeal by the Parliament which includes the Human Rights Act 1998 and data protection and many provisions of the Scotland Act itself. Even when acting within its legislative competence, the Act further constrains the powers of the Parliament by inhibiting it from acting in a manner incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights or European Community law. The same constraints apply to acts of the Scottish Executive. The Act grants the Secretary of State for Scotland power to direct the Scottish Government not to take any action which he has reasonable grounds to believe "would be incompatible with any international obligations" or to act where he believes such action "is required for the purpose of giving effect to any such obligations" The Act also sets up mechanisms to resolve disputes over questions about legislative competence of the Parliament and powers of the Executive. The ultimate appeal in such matters lies to the Supreme Court of the UK which has already declared similar legislation incompetent .

  • Bill Casey

    This bill risks enshrining into law the ability for "strangers" to have unrestricted access to all kinds or sensitive/private information about all families . This is not only very alarming on a data protection point of view but also from a child safety concern . The potential for this information to be misused is very real and cannot simply be swept aside by a govt that is not interested in listening to the concerns of worries parents .

    Its a fact that this bill has no safeguards for data subjects despite this being a fundamental part of the current data protection legislation . It is a fact that this legislation has a very real potential to undermine families and diminish the rights of parents . It is a fact that this legislation has the potential to infringe the human rights of every family in Scotland .

    Section27 of this bill could be seen as an attempt to exercise the rights conferred by Article 5 of the Data Protection Directive in that it ”determines more precisely the conditions under which the processing of personal data is lawful”, or could be said to be an implied amendment of the Data Protection Act, then the bill is outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament as data protection is a reserved matter.

    The Privacy Impact Assessment which accompanied the Bill does not demonstrate an appreciation of the purpose and requirements of data protection legislation (nor,indeed,other aspects of human rights legislation.) The legislation is proposing a very significant change from the present situation where data may be shared if there is significant concern for the safety of a child to one where data must be shared if there is any concern regarding the child’s wellbeing. This concept is defined in very broad terms which will inevitably leave the matter open to subjective interpretation. In any event, should a mild concern regarding any aspect of ‘wellbeing’ justify acting in breach of a professional obligation of confidence?

    The assessment refers to the first data protection principle. However, most of the other principles are also of direct relevance and need to be considered especially in view of the proposal that all information relating to a child’s ‘wellbeing’ should be passed to the Named Person. What provisions are to be made regarding further disclosure (the 2nd data protection principle) ;the period of time for which the data is to be held (the 5th principle) or the technical and procedural security precautions that must be taken (the 8th principle)? There is no reference to the requirement that data must be processed taking account of the rights of the data subject, including provision for subject access by or on behalf of the data subject. This is likely to be of considerable significance in respect of requests being made by parents for access to data on behalf of a child, particularly in light of the exceptionally broad definition given to the term “parent” in education legislation.