Schoolhouse http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk Supporting home education in Scotland Sat, 04 Apr 2015 02:27:49 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.1.1 Critical masses say no to Snooperati http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/critical-masses-say-no-to-snooperati http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/critical-masses-say-no-to-snooperati#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:53:54 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5447 genogram

GIRFEC: Getting Information Recorded For Every Child (and the whole family tree!)

 

The Schoolhouse petition (which was set up purely as an awareness raising tool when it became clear that parents and professionals were being misled into believing that GIRFEC was about protecting vulnerable children rather than a mass data stealing exercise) has now passed the 6000 signature mark, and supporters will no doubt welcome an update on progress, if it can be described thus.

 

A legal challenge by the NO2NP campaign is ongoing, with an appeal hearing having been fast tracked following one judge’s failure to comprehend the serious damage already being inflicted on families, well before the offending provisions are set to become enforceable in August 2016. We now need to wait and see what the triumvirate in the Inner House of the Court of Session has to say, but implementation of this totalitarian legislation will ultimately be doomed to failure, as happened in the Isle of Man, without popular consent or co-operation. Has the Declaration of Arbroath now been officially torn up by those who cry freedom while strangling self determination?

 

NO2NP roadshows have been continuing in various locations across the country, with audiences growing ever larger and ever more vocal as parents become aware of what GIRFEC surveillance and a named person means for their own families. Schoolhouse has now published its Dingwall roadshow presentation with links for reference, and video recordings of the Glasgow event speakers should soon be available on the NO2NP website. Lesley Scott’s (Tymes Trust) illustrated walk-through of the SHANARRI indicators, wellbeing wheels, triangles and chronologies left many audience members visibly stunned by the level of intrusion planned (and already being rolled out) for every child (and every citizen if you look closely). Not many people realised that universal citizen surveillance and profiling now starts in the womb, facilitated by the mass mining by every professional of the sensitive personal data of every child, every family member and every associated adult, often without their knowledge or consent. Wake up, Scotland, this is not about a ‘single point of contact’ for those who need or want one, it is social engineering on steroids!

 

A growing number of victims are now publicly sharing their experiences of GIRFEC and the cult of SHANARRI that drives it, including that of an Aberdeen school pupil who was interrogated, without advance warning, about highly personal matters by a school nurse she had never previously met. This professional had not obtained parental consent and had presumed the consent of the child, who subsequently reported her distress at the nature of the interview questions and the recording of her responses.

 

Here is a selection of the questions asked by an unnamed stranger of a 13 year old schoolgirl during an unscheduled interview she was given no opportunity to refuse:

 

Who do you live with?

Do you get on with your sister?

Where do your other siblings live – do they live nearby?

Do your parents work? What jobs do they do?

Do you have any pets?

How many pets?

Do you sleep well?

When the child answered yes to this question, the nurse said: “so no bed-wetting then?”

Have you started your menstrual periods?

Do you feel safe and secure in your home?

Do you feel loved and cared for?

Are you listened to?

If you have a problem who would you go to? The child replied she would go to either parent which was met with “but it would be your Mum if it was about puberty, yes?”

Do you have a good relationship with your parents?

Can you talk to them?

 

These intimate wee ‘chats’ with individual pupils appear to be something of a departure from the E2S and ChildrenCount surveys that caused parental outrage in Perth and Kinross, but the questions are equally inappropriate and there is now no longer even a nod to the anonymity or confidentiality of children’s sensitive personal data. The child who was traumatised in the Aberdeen case – a captive data subject in a school setting where she should feel safe – will of course have to submit her own subject access request under the Data Protection Act, since her parent, whose consent was said by the school to have been provided under a blanket ‘core’ agreement of which she knew nothing, is unable to access records relating to her ‘competent’ child. The (un)named person, on the other hand, is at liberty to share every intimate disclosure, including hearsay howsoever obtained, with other ‘professionals’ and enter the details on an essentially insecure database which any ‘competent ‘12 year old could probably hack into.

 

Although the parent of the Aberdeen school pupil laid the blame firmly at the door of the SNP, as the party of government, it is still important to remember that the CHYP Act was voted through by every MSP from every political party. GIRFEC (and the associated outcomes-driven CfE) originally came to Scotland from the UN via Tony Blair’s New Labour and is just a kilted version of England’s ECM, which was every bit as objectionable and eventually shelved due to public resistance. It will of course be back, as early intervention is now being introduced into every area of social policy across the UK, despite there being no evidence to justify it. Employing a highly paid monitor class to scrutinise, blame and ‘remediate’ (into state dictated shape) those who have been the victims of serial social policy failures is clearly more of a priority than providing a roof over every head, a dinner in every belly and protection for every vulnerable child. Extending these monitors’ job descriptions to mine data from, and inflict state dictated outcomes on, every child and every family member goes to show just how pear shaped things have become. There’s no V (for Vulnerable) in GIRFEC, remember.

 

The Scottish Government has recently embarked on a guidance ‘consultation’ in respect of the most contentious provisions of the CHYP Act, as if guidance on how to breach overarching data protection and human rights legislation makes universal surveillance and a compulsory ‘cuckoo’ in the family nest any more palatable – or lawful. Such consultations are widely held to be exercises in futility for consultees, since the decisions have already been made (as we were told when we vociferously opposed the original Bill). Every professional will have to follow orders from the enforcers of this grand theft data project which has been years in the planning, no dissent or conscientious objection will be permitted. A war is being waged against parents by a government that is supposed to work for them, yet most still have no idea of what is about to hit them.

 

A series of charm offensives have meanwhile also been mounted to keep the unsuspecting masses in the dark. Children are being cynically groomed to sell GIRFEC to their peers and much is made by the government of consulting with young people who have been ‘enabled’ to make suggestions (but only if they are the ‘right’ ones, presumably approved by their named person). Strangely, we haven’t met one young person who has been consulted in any meaningful way, but those who have dared veer off message have reported that their views have been ignored or ridiculed, and that only carefully selected pupil representatives are afforded the right to voice (exclusively pro-GIRFEC) opinions. Critical thinking is actively discouraged by CfE, another member of the GIRFEC family which is rapidly replacing knowledge with state approved outcomes.

 

We have just seen this short message prepared by the ‘Better Life Chances Unit’ to update parents on the state’s planned outcomes for their children, whether or not they agree with them:

 

Getting it right for every child – update

 

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on detailed guidance that supports parts of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014. This Act is a new law that will give children, young people and their families extra support and will encourage everyone to talk about children’s wellbeing using the same words. The consultation on the guidance is due to run until 1 May. It is mainly aimed at the people who support your child – including parents’ organisations – but individual parents are welcome to get involved if they wish. You can take part in the consultation via this link. There is also a leaflet on the Scottish Government’s website with more information.

 

girfecleaflet1

girfecleaflet2

 

As can be seen from the above, the leaflet is unbelievably patronising in both presentation and content, infantilising the parents it is supposed to be informing and utilising the Zippy and Bungle multicoloured rainbow that formerly appeared on the English DfES website, perhaps subliminally promising a pot of GIRFEC gold? The cut-out boxes also contain ‘information’ that frankly doesn’t add up for those of us who have actually read the primary legislation and 100+ pages of drivel now out for ‘consultation’.

 

Here’s a synopsis of what one of our colleagues had to say:

 

Contrary to what this leaflet states, the draft guidance does not comprise “detailed instructions” for health visitors or teachers, in fact it specifically states that it has not been written with practitioners in mind.

 

The leaflet claims that the Named Person scheme is designed to provide an “initial point of contact” but omit to mention that it is a universal provision, that there is no opt-out, and that Named Persons will fulfil  their statutory obligations as they see fit, regardless of parents’ or the child’s own views. The leaflet also deliberately omits to provide links to the risk indicators and outcome signifiers that would probably sound alarm bells.

 

What they mean by “if information about a child needs to be shared, this is always done properly” is that practitioners must record their decisions and has nothing to do with not sharing information. In fact the ICO has made it clear in advice given to Perth and Kinross that if they want to share information, then they can go right ahead and do it – consent “is not the be-all-and-end-all”, rather it is only one of the conditions for processing and “carries no more weight than any of the others”. [Link for reference (8.30mins in)]

 

The ICO representatives further reassured practitioners that consent should only be sought when the individual has a real choice and were clear about how easy it is to share information without consent:

 

“We know when we are talking about child protection issues we are looking at significant harm, but we know we’ve got the Children and Young People Bill going through which is lowering that trigger down to wellbeing and that’s absolutely fine. If you’re going to do that then you may be relying on public function and public interest and that’s absolutely valid, there’s not an issue with that.” [Link for reference (7.50mins in)]

 

It is worth noting that the above ‘advice’, based on what we understand is a lay interpretation of the law by a non legally qualified ICO (correct us if we’re wrong, but we don’t think we are), is not shared by data protection experts in other parts of the UK and EU. It has, however, been accepted as ‘gospel’ by councils, which means professionals believe they have carte blanche to routinely collect, trawl and share children’s, parents’ and other associated third parties’ personal data, including health, housing and social work records without consent and below the established legal threshold (i.e. ‘at risk of significant harm’, as upheld in the Haringey case, which has UK wide relevance.]

 

Businesses found to be making unsubstantiated claims in leaflets and other marketing materials would soon fall foul of the ASA, but perhaps there is another set of rules for politicians when it comes to the mis-selling of Trojan horses? A concerned parent handing out NO2NP leaflets at the SNP conference in Glasgow to raise awareness among delegates of the implications of the legislation reported being verbally abused by one liveried party member who accused her of being a “liar” for daring to disseminate fully referenced information on the dangers of GIRFEC surveillance and imposing a compulsory named person on every child. Another delegate was observed shouting abuse at a young person who was handing out leaflets with her family and became even more aggressive when her mother intervened. Fortunately, other delegates were prepared to engage courteously with the arguments rather than hurl abuse at the messengers.

 

The government is showing no sign of backing down in its war against families, and its commitment to equality certainly does not extend to parents for whom ‘equality of arms’ means paying for their own judicial review as well as the government’s anti parent propaganda via taxation. To add insult to injury, in order to close all loopholes and ensure GIRFEC compliance by the third sector, whose participation in the game of Grand Theft Data is crucial, the government has also made public funding (that’s our taxes) available for GIRFEC tribute acts to perform at a venue near you and train your local voluntary groups to collect your family’s data and pass it on. According to an outfit calling itself  the Health and Social Care Alliance, who are organising a series of state sponsored ‘Getting to Know GIRFEC’ gigs, including one in Dundee:

 

“The purpose of this workshop is to enable a broad range of practitioners from the third sector to deliver information workshops for children and young people or parents and carers to inform them about GIRFEC and what it means for them; to bring GIRFEC to life, to make it real for them. The workshop will cover everything from organising an information session to the contents and materials (which are provided for you) to the continued support and guidance after the ‘training for trainers’ workshop concludes. We hope we can work together to cascade the information to children and young people and their parents and carers.

Do you have questions about a Getting to Know GIRFEC Workshop? Contact The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The ALLIANCE)

 

We think we’ll pass and would hazard a guess that the information and materials provided will be of the state approved, rainbow bright variety, and that questioning the answers will be frowned upon. There are of course still some pesky anomalies to be ironed out (by steamroller if necessary) as not everyone is fluent in Newspeak, and many have no desire to submit to the cascade of sophistry that is heading their way.

 

Home educators, as proud members of the anomalous minority, are gearing up for a new wave of demands for the compulsory registration of all parents who are discharging their legal duty to provide an education for their own children. Equally anomalous in the eyes of GIRFECkers are those parents who decline the voluntary health visiting service, which must be frustrating for practitioners with a plethora of ‘parental capacity to provide wellbeing’ assessments to complete, boxes to tick and a voracious appetite for data on everything from pet bereavements to sexual preferences and suicidal thoughts – all to be shared with, and dissected by, any paid up members of the new state Snooperati.  This poster (which is not considered by government agents to be helpful for parents or children, but which in our view should be ‘cascaded’ to everyone) gives an indication of what the ‘anomalies’ might be missing out on!

 

girfec lanarks

 

But hang on a minute!  If the mandatory named person for every child is drawn mainly from the obedient ranks of non mandatory health visitors and teachers, you begin to see a problem emerging for the government and the whole named person pyramid scheme. They have been wrestling with this difficult question for some time, but the final solution appears to be to designate as likely child abusers all parents who decline (allegedly voluntary) services simply for having the temerity to make decisions about education and/or health matters independently of the state.

 

Kate and William had better watch out as every child needs to be databased (or perhaps it applies only to commoners’ children with exemptions for those of celebrities, politicians, the wealthy and powerful, whose information is too important to lose, as was the case with ContactPoint?)  There’s no getting away from the fact that making registration compulsory for non-compulsory services like ‘education’ (council nurseries or schools) or ‘health’ (NHS health visitors, GPs) is tantamount to parent licensing by a monopolistic state, the unintended consequences of which could be far reaching in terms of culpability as well as civil liberties.

 

The repugnance and anger expressed by direct enquirers to our organisation, by attendees at NO2NP roadshows and by those leaving comments on our petition undoubtedly represent just the tip of an enormous iceberg that will ultimately sink the seemingly unsinkable GIRFEC Titanic. Several of us heeded the warnings about the vessel’s construction and never got on board in the first place, but now a growing number of passengers –  teachers and NHS staff in particular – are voicing concerns about health and safety issues, especially after the Isle of Man’s pilot ship hit the rocks and sank with significant collateral damage to children, families and social care services. Some concerned crew members are already firing emergency flares, others are looking to launch the lifeboats, and a few brave souls are even taking it upon themselves to do the ‘right’ thing and unlock exit routes to allow those in steerage class, i.e. parents and children, a fighting chance to jump ship before it’s too late. Meanwhile the tribute band plays on and the (swan)song remains the same.

 

 

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Schoolhouse Spring Picnic 2015 http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/schoolhouse-spring-picnic-2015 http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/schoolhouse-spring-picnic-2015#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 15:57:28 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5413 camperdown park dundee

 

 

For the Schoolhouse spring picnic 2015, we are returning to the ever popular Camperdown Park in Dundee. which is a vast open space on the outskirts of the city with picnic areas, a playpark and a wildlife centre with indoor café.

 

This year’s gathering will take place on Saturday 9 May, from 11.30am – 3.30pm. We will convene on the green space across from the café,  close to the car park and play area, so that latecomers can find us easily. Look out for the Schoolhouse banner!

 

The event will be free of charge for Schoolhouse members, but non members are also welcome to come along for £3 per family. We will be organising a few (optional) activities, but please bring your own sustenance in the form of food and drinks. Umbrellas may also be advisable depending on the weather forecast!

 

It would be helpful if you could let us know you are coming so that we can plan the  day’s activities accordingly, and if non members could pay in advance (£3 by Paypal to membership[at]schoolhouse.org.uk, or by cheque/PO to 1 Victoria Road, Dundee DD1 1EL – please include attendee details so we know who you are!)

 

We look forward to welcoming you all to our own version of HE in the Park!

 

For pictures of our last Camperdown home ed picnic, please see this article.

 

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Dingwall NO2NP roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/dingwall-no2np-roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/dingwall-no2np-roadshow#comments Sat, 07 Mar 2015 13:12:37 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5379 beatles plaque dingwall

 

The NO2NP roadshow visited Dingwall on 4th March, where a capacity audience (bigger than the Beatles!) heard from Michael Veitch of the Christian Institute, Lesley Scott of the Tymes Trust and Alison Preuss from Schoolhouse. Some challenging questions and interesting comments were raised from the floor, perhaps the most surprising among them being that many parents had had no idea about the Named Person, or the fact that GIRFEC had been piloted in the Highlands – making a mockery of the universal benefits claimed for what was a small, selective project that was deliberately limited in scope to address the needs of children already known to have additional support needs and whose parents were desperate to access services.

 

 

Schoolhouse presentation (Dingwall) – 04/03/15


Thanks again for inviting me to speak tonight. For anyone who is interested, my presentations from previous roadshows (Inverness and Montrose) can be found on the Schoolhouse website with hyperlinks to references so that people can do their own research.  Much of the background information can also be found on our online petition, which has attracted nearly 6000 signatures and many hundreds of comments from parents and professionals opposed to the Named Person and surveillance aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.

 

Schoolhouse is Scotland’s national home education support charity which has a long history of defending freedom in education. Although I’m speaking from the perspective of the home educating community, we have a lot in common with other groups who don’t necessarily fit the state approved mould and whose differences are more likely to be censured rather than celebrated, sometimes to the point of overt hostility. From a purely self-preservation point of view, we have been following and opposing the universal data mining behind what was to become the Named Person scheme for more than 12 years. We saw this one coming for everyone, not just us, and really wish we had been wrong. GIRFEC is not about Getting It Right For Every Child, but about Getting Information Recorded for Every Citizen. The ‘It’ they are so determined to get right is essentially I.T., as in Information Technology, to facilitate the processing of the personal data of every child and associated adult, mostly without their knowledge or consent.

 

You may have seen the media coverage of the backlash against government proposals to create a super database of citizens’ heath records and the Assistant Information Commissioner’s dire warning that it would create a National Identity scheme in breach of existing legislation. So where, pray, was this paragon of data protection when it was our children’s data being plundered and shared by state appointed Named Persons? Well actually, there wasn’t even a whimper of dissent from the ICO during the passage of the CHYP Act. Presumably children’s rights just don’t matter?

 

For the record, we are all the lab rats for Tony Blair’s New Labour social engineering  project known as ‘early intervention’, which was allegedly designed to identify the delinquents of tomorrow and ‘remediate’ them, but in reality consigns most of us to the ‘criminals in waiting’ class for ease of management. Described by one commentator as “human husbandry” and famously condemned by Tony Benn as “eugenics, the sort of thing Hitler talked about” early intervention is the policy that underpins GIRFEC, which is just the kilted cousin of England’s Every Child Matters (Every Citizen Monitored). The CHYP Act is essentially a tartan Trojan horse that may at first sight seem to be a cuddly sort of cuddy, but before you know it, you will be taken for a ride in a direction you may not want to travel, to a state dictated destination you may not want to reach.

 

When GIRFEC was first mooted, there was an overwhelming sense of déjà vu for many of us as the Scottish Government simply adopted New Labour’s rhetoric to misrepresent it to the masses as a child protection policy. Let me briefly take you back in time to the Children Over Surveilled, Under Protected conference, held at the LSE in 2006, which brought together a range of highly respected experts in child protection, data security, civil liberties and children’s rights, all of whom sounded loud alarm bells about the radical changes being proposed for  children’s services which were said to be aimed at “improving early identification and intervention with children thought to be at risk of failing to reach their potential”. The conference placed particular emphasis on the databases being set up to hold extensive personal information about children and their families, ostensibly to help professionals share information amongst themselves and judge whether or not a child was showing any cause for concern, but in reality amounting to universal citizen surveillance and an invasion of every family’s privacy.  It all sounds very familiar, doesn’t it?

 

Nine years on and the Scottish government, aided and abetted by state sponsored charity cheerleaders with vested interests, are boldly claiming GIRFEC to be the final solution for every social ill afflicting Scotland, but it’s a bit of a stretch for most of us to imagine how an army of state snoopers covertly recording every child’s pet bereavements, lunch box contents, pocket money rates and mum and dad’s failure to buy the latest trainers is going to help the children who are already known to be at risk of something far worse than missing out on their five a day.

 

As we’ve heard previously from paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham, there is no hard evidence to support the premise that early intervention makes a positive difference and can in fact be damaging to children and families. It does, however, allow service providers new and exciting publicly funded opportunities to perform ‘parental capacity to provide wellbeing’ assessments at every stage of every child’s life from the womb onwards. It’s also an open invitation for IT companies to flog ever more sophisticated surveillance software to database and ‘eprofile’ the population. Big data is worth big bucks to the economy.

 

Since the system relies on universal data collection, there can be no permitted opt out (although, as with ContactPoint, there will probably be exemptions for those whose information is deemed too ‘important’ to lose, such as politicians, celebrities, the wealthy and powerful). In a dangerous move designed to further facilitate the acquisition of children’s data, the government lowered the established child protection threshold from “at risk of significant harm” to “at risk of not meeting the state’s dictated wellbeing outcomes”, a distinction which would be lost on most parents unfamiliar with the child protection system but one which is vitally important for ensuring the safety the most vulnerable children.

 

SHANARRI, as we have heard, is the handy set of state defined ‘wellbeing’ indicators which has spawned an all encompassing risk assessment framework to redefine ‘vulnerability’, which now includes being under 5, an only child, having a disabled parent or one who is ‘non engaging’. You should all take a look and see how many risk boxes you might tick. Too many ticks and you’ll find yourself at the sharp end of an intervention to improve your parenting performance and subject to sanctions if you don’t comply. It’s the GIRFEC equivalent of Supernanny’s naughty step. [See Ian Dent's Beyond Broadband and associated commentary for more on eprofiling as a means of determining rewards and sanctions based on a citizen's 'worth to the economy' credit score].

 

You’d think it would be difficult to get sensible people to believe that building bigger haystacks would make it easier to find smaller needles – and you’d also think that lessons might have been learned from the Isle of Man which abandoned a similar scheme after children’s services melted down due to over-referrals -  but apparently every single MSP was fooled (or more likely told how to vote), despite a significant number of clued up parents alerting them to the implications for every single family in the land.

 

They should have heeded the advice of Lyndon B. Johnson who said:  “You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”


I happened to be watching ‘Call the Midwife’ the other night, set in East London in the early 1960s, when one nurse reminded a well meaning but pushy colleague: “Sometimes we have to wait for help to be asked for”. A bedrock principle of our universal health care system is (or was) consent, unless exceptional circumstances apply, including the child protection threshold being triggered – a scenario that featured in a previous episode when well meaning professionals got it wrong by reporting an infant’s injuries as non accidental after failing to diagnose brittle bone disease.

 

Fast forward 50 years and professionals are still getting things wrong with sometimes tragic results. They are only human, after all, often working under tremendous pressure in front line services which are under resourced and massively over stretched. When there aren’t enough social workers to protect  the children already known to be at serious risk, it is scandalous that the government should be diverting resources into  a universal surveillance scheme which requires professionals to observe children’s every movement, record their every ‘life event’,  gather and share information about their families without consent and, increasingly, interrogate their private thoughts and feelings about sex, drugs and suicide via intrusive wellbeing ‘surveys’.

 

A visit to a paediatric clinic at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee the other week confirmed a friend’s worst fears when her attention was drawn to notices informing parents that their children’s information would be shared with other agencies, the subtext being that if you want to access medical or clinical assessment and treatment for your child, you have to surrender your right to family privacy. My friend, whose child has a rare health condition, feels that she is “over a barrel” and that if she insists on compliance with the Data Protection Act, she will attract attention, suspicion and ill-will from the very people she is depending on to help her child. While presumed or coerced consent does not constitute informed consent, the most worrying aspect of my friend’s hospital encounter was that consent wasn’t even mentioned in passing. So it seems that conditionality now permeates all public services, including the NHS, and that access is only available to those who submit to terms and conditions which compromise their children’s and their own rights to control the processing of their sensitive personal information. Meanwhile watch out for your NHS CHI number conveniently appearing ” (as it did on the early versions of the entitlement card ) on some of your other records, just ripe for sharing. [Take a close look at this image which appeared in Scotland's Future - Your guide to an independent Scotland].

 

A presentation on GIRFEC information sharing, delivered at Stirling University last year by Alan Small on behalf of the Scottish Government, leaves us in no doubt that parents are being deliberately sidelined. As he reminds his audience, the CHYP Act’s information sharing provisions override the duty of confidentiality. The Act also empowers a Named Person to make statutory requests for help to ‘relevant authorities’, including health boards and local authorities. So that last bastion of personal privacy has been officially sacrificed on the altar of SHANARRI and your child’s teacher will be able to access your family’s medical, social work and police records without your knowledge or consent by using the excuse of “promoting, supporting and safeguarding” your child’s wellbeing.

 

The presenter goes on to confirm that information must be shared when it is considered likely to be relevant to the functions of the Named Person, and while it is apparently considered good practice to obtain and have regard to the views of the child (that’s your child), taking account of age and maturity, the views of the parent (that’s you) are categorically not required, and there is no need to consider the effect of the information sharing on you or anyone else.

 

Turning to the duty to help a Named Person, he notes that the impact is “far reaching” (don’t we know it) and among the services obliged to assist the Named Person in data collection and sharing are:

 

-       Health Services – GPs, dentists, community pharmacists, mental health, addiction, long term conditions, A&E, minor injuries, out of hours, family planning, sexual health, maternity services, ambulance service, health visiting,  school nursing, CAMHS, Paediatrics, Neonatology, Community Child Health, Health Promotion, Allied Health Care Professionals……

 

-       Local Authorities – Education and Learning (inc early childhood education) Housing, Social Services,  Leisure Services…… Police, Fire Service, Sports Council .

 

-       Plus any organisation performing a function on behalf of a Health Board or Local Authority

 

The presentation concludes with reminders to practitioners (a) that they can share information if and when they decide, subjectively, that your child’s wellbeing is, or is likely to be, at risk, and may require to be addressed; (b) that state defined wellbeing indicators have replaced the former welfare (i.e. child protection) threshold; (c) that a ‘concern’ may not even directly relate to their own specific service or treatment (a wide open invitation for cross disciplinary interference); and perhaps most worryingly, (d) that the once sacrosanct duty of confidentiality is not to be considered a ‘blockage’ to sharing information.

 

So all these assurances from government that there is no requirement to engage with a Named Person, who is allegedly only a point of contact for those seeking assistance, begin to look more than a bit disingenuous when viewed alongside the data sharing free for all outlined by Alan Small. No wonder parents are angry!

 

Since the CHYP Act was passed last February, more and more families are experiencing unwanted interference by Named Persons, including harassment by heath visitors who don’t appreciate their services being declined and referrals to the children’s reporter on spurious grounds. Well before the provision is scheduled to come into force in August 2016, families are already having their personal data stolen and assessed by multi-agency box tickers who may not personally approve of particular parenting choices and have had a couple of hours’ training  on how to circumvent the law. Think chronic illness and disability, vaccination, travelling lifestyles, home birthing, attachment parenting, home education. And when families’ choices are limited by circumstances they have no power to change, like low income, disability or poor housing, they will find it impossible to pass their parental capacity to provide wellbeing tests and can look forward to especially close scrutiny of their parenting by Named Persons whose wellbeing advice they dare not refuse.

 

There are of course some familiar old chestnuts that are repeatedly trotted out by those who have swallowed the state spin, so let’s just take a minute to dispose of them:

 

“If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, but how many of you would be irresponsible enough to willingly hand over your online banking passwords, abandon privacy settings on your social media accounts and post your children’s details on the internet just to prove you have nothing to hide? Ashya King’s parents had nothing to hide and look where seeking a second opinion for their child got them – at the sharp end of a European Arrest Warrant! We would all do well to remember that “privacy is a necessary condition of mental health and wellbeing”, which is one of the reasons it is specifically protected in human rights legislation.

 

“If it saves just one child…” is another cliché used by people who have no understanding of the realities of child protection, which is a deadly serious business, and in no way comparable to a bunch of woolly ‘wellbeing’ indicators which are designed to gather as much data as possible – on everyone. GIRFEC didn’t save Mikaeel Kular who was killed by his mother, despite being known to be vulnerable by children’s services in Edinburgh and Fife where the Named Person is already operational and already causing problems for families we know who have been the subject of serial malicious referrals. When implemented universally, GIRFEC puts the most vulnerable children at greater risk by diverting resources from child protection social work.

 

“We need to know everything about your family so we can plan the services you’ll need.” For that read “the services we decide you’ll need” as the enabling state is primed to disable dissenters who may stray from the “right” set of outcomes as determined by the government. Why not actually address the needs of parents and children who are already queuing up to ask for support they have identified as necessary but are being turned away through lack of resources or disagreement on the part of ‘professionals who know best’ across all disciplines?

 

The fact is that no family is now safe from routine state intervention. The bar has been set so low that parents are all deemed a risk to their children’s wellbeing.

 

We’re obviously disappointed, but not surprised, that the first stage of the legal challenge didn’t go our way, but as we’ve heard, a date has now been set for the appeal hearing. On a positive note the level of media interest has led to a realisation among many more parents and professionals that they were both deliberately misled by the government and betrayed by their parliamentary representatives. Who would have thought that law abiding citizens would need to go to court to protect their children from the government’s assault on their human rights?  For the sake of every child, we hope the legal challenge will ultimately succeed, but in the meantime we will continue to rely on our overarching rights under Article 8 of the ECHR, the EU Data Protection Directives and the UK wide Data Protection Act, none of which the Scots Parliament has the legislative competence to override.

 

We also have some tried and tested tactics for frustrating the data collectors which I’m happy to share with you:

 

Formally withhold or withdraw consent from every ‘service provider’ for any data processing without your written authority and obtain confirmation that they have complied with your instructions. It might make you a non engaging parent in the risk assessment stakes, but Aileen Campbell has stated on public record that there is no requirement to engage with a Named Person. There is a template for the purpose on the Schoolhouse website citing this ministerial assurance.

 

Avoid giving personal information to service providers wherever possible, including third sector organisations whose remit is now to mine data from you and your children. Try not to get guilt tripped into providing ‘feedback’ which they claim they need to prove they have met their outcomes, to get their next grant and provide future services (you get the drift).

 

Opt out of any school surveys and don’t allow your child to be coerced into taking part. Have an opt out note attached to your child’s records and remind teachers that there is a law against grooming children to disclose personal sensitive data.

 

Submit subject access requests under the Data Protection Act to obtain your own and your children’s records and do so on a regular basis. They must produce them within 40 days and you may be surprised at what has been recorded and shared about you with every Tom, Dick and Harry, playground tittle-tattle included. (One parent was surprised to learn she was emigrating to Egypt, not just moving two streets away!) Do you really want your child’s teacher to have access to your family’s medical and social work records at the click of a mouse so that they can go on fishing expeditions (something that is specifically prohibited by EU Data Protection Directives)?

 

Consider interviewing your child’s Named Person so that you can assess their suitability to have unsupervised contact with your child. If they do not meet your expectations, ask for a different Named Person and repeat the process until you are satisfied as to their suitability. Don’t hesitate to ‘over-engage’ and pursue formal complaints about any inappropriate actions on the part of the Named Person. [See also A Named Parent for every professional?]

 

Just yesterday we heard the Prime Minister describe organised child abuse and exploitation as being “on an industrial scale”, so it makes sense to be cautious about who has access to your child’s personal details. On the Home Ed Forums website there is a 50 page thread and associated map listing professionals convicted of abusing children as disclosure checks obviously only find those who have been caught, while the ‘care’ system is routinely failing the most vulnerable children. Scotland has its own shameful share of embarrassing skeletons rattling their way out of the closet and it’s hardly surprising that GIRFEC is becoming known in data security circles as the “new paedophile information exchange”. [Note: Its English equivalent had previously been dubbed the “paedophiles’ address book” as far back as 2004, and a Westminster Early Day Motion highlighted the dangers of “data rape” in 2006].

 

I’ll end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence, which was said to have been informed by our own Declaration of Arbroath: “Governments (derive) their just powers from the consent of the governed”.


It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict that Named Persons, as state appointed data collectors and sharers, are going to be distrusted, deeply resented and resisted by a significant number of parents and children. No amount of ‘guidance’ can make the unacceptable acceptable. Regardless of the outcome of the Judicial Review, the government is on notice that parents make difficult and dangerous prey when it comes to protecting their children. We categorically do not consent to this invasion of our families’ privacy.

 

 

 

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New NO2NP roadshow dates announced http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/new-no2np-roadshow-dates-announced http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/new-no2np-roadshow-dates-announced#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:13:57 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5362 New roadshow dates have been announced for January and February 2015, when the NO2NP Campaign will be visiting Livingston, Greenock and Dunfermline.

 

 

 

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Children ‘missing’ from what, exactly? http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/children-missing-from-what-exactly http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/children-missing-from-what-exactly#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:07:16 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5337 BBC Scotland reports emotively today on the alleged ‘Toll of kids missing from school‘.

 

We are unreliably informed that:

 

“In some cases, children are marked as missing because they have moved house and failed to tell the school. Agencies say others disappear for more “sinister” reasons including abuse and forced marriage. In the past five years, 2,619 children aged three to 16 have gone missing.”

 

Well, forgive us for pointing out the obvious, but compulsory education age is defined by primary legislation and it doesn’t start at three! No matter how much pressure parents are put under to register their children at nurseries younger and younger as part of the ‘left luggage generation’, the law is (still) crystal clear on what constitutes ‘school age’.

 

A further deeply disturbing statement by a North Lanarkshire Council spokesman, quoted in the same report, suggests that home educated children are ‘missing from education’, which is patently not the case. That blatant misrepresentation  prompted us to submit a FOIA request to find out a bit more about the policy based evidence that is apparently being concocted by local authorities and other ‘agencies’, aided and abetted by the old familiar ‘fix it’ calls from the BBC.


Definitions of ‘missing’ children. Missing from what?

 

Dear North Lanarkshire Council,


This FOI request relates to the following statement which the BBC reports as having been made by a spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services:

 

“The reasons for a child or young person being classified as missing include returning to their original country, moving to another school in the UK or being home educated.”


Since home educated children are, by definition, not ‘missing from education’, as confirmed by guidance, that statement is clearly misleading and damaging to members of a minority group who are exercising an entirely lawful choice.

 

I would be grateful if you would provide me with the following information:

 

1.  How many children of compulsory education age (as defined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) have been recorded as ‘missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

 

2.  From which *compulsory* services were these school-age children recorded as ‘missing’ (bearing in mind that school attendance is not mandatory as the provision of education is a parental responsibility)?

 

3.  How many ‘missing’ children were recorded as such due to their lawful status of being electively home educated, whether known to the council or not?

 

4.  How many children under compulsory education age (as defined in the Education (Scotland) Act 1980) have been recorded as ‘missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

 

5.  From which *compulsory services* were these children under school-age (which is attained the August following a child’s fifth birthday) recorded as ‘missing’ (bearing in mind that health visiting, nurseries and third sector ‘services’ can be declined by parents unless a child is subject to compulsory – not voluntary - measures of care or supervision)?

 

6.  How many children who are/were subject to (a) compulsory and (b) voluntary measures of care or supervision have been recorded as ’missing’ by North Lanarkshire Council in the past year?

 

7.  Finally, please provide a copy of North Lanarkshire Council’s policy relating to the ‘mining’ and sharing of citizens’ (including children’s) personal data, including the requisite procedures for obtaining the informed consent of data subjects for processing all such data.

 

 

Home Ed Forums covers all the bases in this thread, including Glasgow City Council’s ‘track and trace’ system for children who leave the country with their families quite legally. We suspect they are going to be very busy (and probably bankrupt) as many more families choose to leave Scotland as a result of the ill conceived GIRFEC and its army of data stealing state snoopers. We would contend that our money would be far better spent on tackling the child poverty that disproportionately blights Glasgow, but the state evidently has different priorities and plans for our children.

 

 

 

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A Named Parent for every professional? http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/a-named-parent-for-every-professional http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/a-named-parent-for-every-professional#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:42:22 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5286 The Myles Bradbury case brings into sharp focus the inherent dangers of the universal Scottish Named Person scheme, which promotes professional power-over access to every child and facilitates the gathering and sharing of every child’s (and every associated adult’s) sensitive personal data among a large number of other professionals without informed consent. As was contended in the recent judicial review, this flies in the face of Article 8 of the ECHR and is in blatant breach of the ‘consent’ and ‘necessity’ tests in both the UK Data Protection Act and EU Directives.


Since publishing some anonymised case studies to demonstrate the dangers of unfettered data sharing by GIRFEC apologists and the SHANARRI faithful, we have been contacted by a number of other parents who report being “hounded”, “harassed” and even “threatened with further action” if they do not “fully co-operate”’ with intrusive professionals.  Not fully co-operating apparently includes exercising the right to withhold or withdraw consent for data processing and even making a statutory subject access request! Perhaps Aileen Campbell needs to revisit the definition of “voluntary engagement” and consider Gordon Brewer’s comments (“Isn’t there something a bit East German about this?”) in the light of these reported routine forced interventions by what amounts to a Scottish Stasi.

 

One frightened family is currently at the collective mercy of up to 20 different professionals who regularly meet to report on their latest “life events” –  having already scrutinised and shared the health and social work histories of each and every family member – despite the “issue of concern” (which was originally self referred) relating solely to a child with additional support needs.  Hardly the signposting service it has been claimed when it has been made clear that there is no choice in the matter for these parents while an army of professionals produce reports subjectively detailing and assessing every aspect of the family’s private life. They only ever asked for a bit of assistance with speech therapy, but are now fighting to retain any vestige of privacy and just want to be left alone. If they ever extricate themselves from the tick box tyranny to which they have been subjected, they have resolved to avoid all public services in the future.

 

The fact that Myles Bradbury was one such ‘caring’ professional is not lost on families. As one of our Facebook followers commented:

 

“A perfect example why the named person is a danger to our children. Can anyone imagine anything worse than this animal having access to all our private and confidential info and a legal right over our kids . Doesn’t bear thinking about.”


And judging by the inquiries that are currently being conducted into historical institutional child abuse and cover-ups, this case is no doubt the tip of a very large iceberg of professional abuse, some of which has been mapped here.

 

Some parents are already leaving for Ireland to pre-empt compulsory measures by professionals in Scotland and across the UK, and John Hemming MP this week used parliamentary privilege to highlight the case of one young Scottish family who have fled there for the second time following allegedly “vindictive proceedings” by Fife Council.

 

Meanwhile, in Dundee, the Serious Crime Division was tasked in September with reviewing allegations relating to Kingspark special school, but only after parents fought tooth and nail for an investigation into their complaints going back several years. As reported in the Courier:

 

“Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House has referred several cases of alleged ill-treatment of disabled children dating back to 2010, and how the police handled the claims, to the specialist unit.

The allegations, which were previously reported by parents and investigated by the then Tayside Police, are that their children were returning home with unexplained injuries.”


Of course most professionals do an excellent job and we recognise that they also have a role in assisting those parents who seek their support to ensure the best possible care for children – but how might we identify the small minority who may become a danger to our children and/or compromise their wellbeing in the future? Should there be a compulsory Named Parent for every professional with a remit to detect pre-crime by gathering every bit of sensitive personal data on each and every one of them for sharing with the parents of every child they may come into contact with? What’s good for the professional goose must surely be equally good for the parental gander, after all – or would professionals consider such a scheme to be a breach of their human rights?

 

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Schoolhouse presentation: Inverness NO2NP roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/schoolhouse-presentation-inverness-no2np-roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/schoolhouse-presentation-inverness-no2np-roadshow#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 21:23:48 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5272 The NO2NP youtube channel has now uploaded Alison Preuss’s presentation on behalf of Schoolhouse to the Inverness roadshow which took place on 1st October 2014. The transcript is available here.

 

 


 

 

 

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Victims of GIRFEC data theft and SHANARRI tick box tyranny http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/victims-of-girfec-data-theft-and-shanarri-tick-box-tyranny http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/victims-of-girfec-data-theft-and-shanarri-tick-box-tyranny#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 16:11:22 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5233 Schoolhouse remains deeply concerned by reports of harassment, bullying and ultra vires activities on the part of the new ‘SHANARRI Stasi’, which has been unleashed on the unsuspecting families of Scotland as a result of the Children and Young People Act.


As we await the outcome of the judicial review just heard at the Court of Session, in which Aidan O’Neill QC reminded the government that “There is a responsibility in legislating. You can’t just put out any old rubbish”, we thought we would post a few anonymised case studies to demonstrate how things go very wrong for families when they don’t  follow the parenting path that an unqualified, untrained, often prejudiced Named Person dictates to be “right” according to the state’s preferred tick box template for childhood.

 

We will continue to collect case studies and completely anonymise the data we receive from families (who trust us not to retain their personal information) so that we can show what is happening on the ground. It is telling that these same families no longer trust public and third sector ‘services’, especially health visitors, teachers and ‘support workers’.

 

As you peruse these horror stories, please remember that your family could be next because the tentacles of this sinister scheme extend to every child and associated adult in Scotland. Even if you are in another part of the UK, beware of the spread of this highly contagious and deadly disease.

 

Family A

A seven year old child was withdrawn from school last year due to bullying at a small remote rural school. After seeking information and support from Schoolhouse, the parent sent a letter of request with an outline of her proposed home education provision to the Local Authority, who immediately sent a social worker and doctor to the family home to “check us out”, despite there being no indication of any problem other than bullying at school. After some delay and a number of reminders, consent to withdraw the child was eventually granted and the child is now successfully home educated, happy and thriving. Recently, a health visitor made unsolicited contact to notify the parent that she will be calling at the family home and seeing the child as his Named Person, although the responsibility lies with the LA, not a health worker, to communicate with home educating families and make enquiries about their educational provision on an annual basis. The parent does not want to deal with a health visitor and is quite capable of consulting the family GP when necessary, but the health visitor remains adamant that she has the “right” to see the child and enter the family home. The parent is now submitting a subject access request to obtain her child’s records as she can see no reason for this unwanted intrusion into her private family life, especially after no action was taken to address the bullying suffered by the child when he was at school. She is concerned that there is no effective complaints procedure or redress mechanism for parents subjected to harassment and who have had their personal data shared without their consent or knowledge.

 

Family B

A 15 year old girl from north east Scotland had been suffering depression and extreme anxiety related to school attendance for the past two years. Despite valiant efforts by the school and a very supportive guidance teacher, the child’s attendance had broken down completely and the parent decided that it would be in her best interests to be home educated until she regained confidence and felt able to attend college after she becomes 16. The guidance teacher (who is presumably her Named Person) has been fully supportive of this decision, but on hearing of the parent’s intention to home educate, the educational psychologist declared her outright opposition. Rather than process the parent’s request for consent to formally withdraw the child from school, a multi-agency meeting was called to question the decision. The child meanwhile became even more anxious as a result of her parent and guidance teacher being overruled by a psychologist, and the parent felt undermined by a “gang of outside professionals” who have had little or no contact with the family, no understanding of the child’s needs and no knowledge of how home education can help children experiencing school related anxiety. Left in limbo, the parent is presently seeking an independent psychologist’s report and taking legal advice.

 

Family C

A four year old child on the autistic spectrum had been attending a special needs nursery in the west of Scotland but had not been not enrolled in a primary school  for August entry because his parents had decided to home educate him for at least the first year of his compulsory education. Without the parents’ knowledge or consent, the nursery forwarded all of his details to the LA, which proceeded to allocate him a place at a special needs school. When the parents formally declined the place, they were informed that they would require the council’s consent to home educate (although consent only applies to the withdrawal of a school-age child from a council school and no council consent is required to home educate per se). The council continued to mislead the family on the issue, which is clearly explained in the home education guidance, and their personal data were shared without their consent with myriad other ‘services’, resulting in bombardment with forced ‘support’ and misleading information, despite their having made suitable educational and social support arrangements for their son.

 

Family D

A parent seeking consent to withdraw her child from a school in the north of Scotland was concerned to be informed that the council would be undertaking “a police check, social work check, doctor’s check and psychological assessment of the child” as well as a “home inspection” before they could process her “application to home educate”. Alarmed to discover that this council had taken up to nine months to process other families’ consent applications and had placed myriad obstacles in the way of those opting to home educate, she contacted Schoolhouse to enquire as to the legality of such investigations. Given that there was no reason whatsoever to suspect that members of the family had criminal records, had been subject to social work intervention, or had  any concerns raised about them, she was extremely angry that their personal data were being shared without consent across agencies with which they had had no previous contact and that their private family life was being subject to unwanted interference, when the LA ‘s responsibility, as outlined in the home education statutory guidance, is restricted to satisfying itself as to the suitability of the education provision. The parent rightly questioned the ‘necessity’ of undertaking so many intrusive investigations without express consent when the child, who was still attending school, had never been deemed “at risk” in any way. Her view remains that the council is guilty of abusing its power by seeking to humiliate and undermine parents who are simply exercising a lawful educational choice. Schoolhouse has received several more complaints from parents who have experienced delays and deliberate obstruction on the part of this council, some of whom have had to enlist the support of MSPs as a result of consent being “unreasonably withheld”.

 

Family E (on behalf of local home education group)

Schoolhouse was contacted by a longstanding member and experienced home educator who had just provided his LA with an annual update relating to his children’s progress. He was deeply concerned to have been (mis)informed by the council official that home visits were to become mandatory for every home educating family so that children could be “checked”. The parent also reported increasing attempts by inexperienced officers to impose non statutory requirements on local home educators, which had now been dealt with but had caused families unnecessary stress and anxiety. Lack of training and knowledge of the law and statutory guidance on home education was considered by local home educating families to be likely to result in future problems.

 

Family F

A child who experienced a difficult transition from primary to a high school in the Lothian area developed depression and suffered a decline in her physical health due to stress. Support from the school was said to be poor and the guidance teacher largely unsympathetic, leading to severe anxiety, panic attacks and attendance problems. The parent contacted Schoolhouse in desperation after deciding that home education and local support networks would be in her daughter’s best interests and provide respite in the short to medium term. She proceeded to seek the council’s consent to withdraw the child from school, but was met with delays and had many obstacles placed in her way because the school did not agree with her decision, despite the child being miserable in school and attendance breaking down. The parent sought a medical certificate from her GP to cover absence until the consent application was processed, but it became an ongoing “battle” with the school using delaying tactics of endless meetings and assessments, as well as threats of referral to the children’s reporter if they did not agree to a “support” plan to keep her in school. Although it is the LA’s role, not the school’s, to grant or refuse consent to withdraw the child (which should be based on the proposed parental educational provision), it is currently being withheld unreasonably in the view of the parent, who feels that “nobody is on my side and I am fighting against a whole system for my daughter’s health and wellbeing.”  This parent has also felt it necessary to consult a solicitor and submit a subject access request to obtain her child’s records so that she is aware of what has been recorded and shared without her knowledge or consent.

 

Family G

A parent of a 9 year old attending a school in north east Scotland contacted Schoolhouse to express serious concerns about the implementation of GIRFEC by her child’s head teacher, who had assumed the role of her son’s Named Person (despite the legislation not yet being in force). He has a specific medical condition, the nature of which was shared in confidence with the head teacher, who subsequently disclosed details to others without consent. Owing to ongoing health issues, the child was educated at home by the LA (as opposed to electively home educated) for a time, remaining on the roll of the school but with the parent providing most of his education by agreement.  At a multi agency meeting from which the parent was excluded (and she was subsequently refused a copy of the minutes), the education at home arrangement was revoked and a package of “support” decided without consultation, leading to what the parent described as “an onslaught of people offering so called support, but in fact they only make things worse.” When the parent indicated that she was unhappy with the arrangements, a social worker visited to inform her that, although social work “support” was being offered on a voluntary basis, if it was refused, a referral would immediately be made to the children’s reporter. The parent has since submitted a subject access request to obtain her son’s records in order to find out what personal data have been recorded and shared without her knowledge or consent, since the minutes of the meeting from which she was excluded are being withheld by the ‘Named Person’. The parent has meanwhile formally withdrawn consent for personal data to be shared (citing the Minister’s assurances on the public record that there is no compulsion to consent), is taking legal advice and is obtaining an independent psychologist’s report so that she can make an informed decision on her child’s wellbeing needs. She also plans to make a formal complaint about the actions of the head teacher.

 

Family H

The parent of a P7 child from the west of Scotland contacted Schoolhouse in September 2013 while researching home education, which she planned to undertake after the end of her daughter’s primary schooling. She had also contacted the Scottish Government for clarification on consent and was reassured that this would not be necessary if she chose not to send her daughter to secondary school. The child has a number of health issues which require ongoing medication and treatment and has experienced panic attacks. She is under the competent care of relevant services, including an educational psychologist who negotiated part time attendance as part of an overall plan to support the child in school. The family GP further provided a letter supporting the appropriateness of these arrangements. Although the parent was under no obligation to notify the primary school of her decision to home educate rather than send her child to secondary school, she did so out of courtesy and was immediately subjected to what she described as “bullying and harassment” as a result. Despite part time attendance having been agreed as being in the child’s best interests and the educational psychologist supporting the parent’s future plans, the head teacher, having assumed the role of Named Person, proceeded (at the end of the school year) to refer the child to the children’s reporter for poor attendance and other nebulous “wellbeing” concerns, declaring the GP’s letter insufficient evidence of reasonable excuse for absence. The distressed parent told Schoolhouse: “I’m really quite scared. The school is making me feel like the worst person in the world.” She has now made a subject access request to obtain her child’s records and is taking legal advice, but the actions of this Named Person, who has stated that she is personally opposed to home education, have caused unnecessary distress to the parent, who need never have informed her of her intentions for her daughter’s post-primary education, and have also undoubtedly compromised the child’s wellbeing.

 

Families I, J and K

All have left Scotland for the Irish Republic as a result of unwanted interference in their lawful parenting choices and forced interventions initiated by Named Persons. One recently returned to the south of England.


Nursery school concerns

A private nursery contacted Schoolhouse to clarify aspects of the law on home education as they were so concerned by the advice given by the LA to a family who were planning to home educate their child rather than send him to primary school. The parents had been wrongly informed that they would need to “apply to home school through the council and the head teacher from the catchment school can reject the request.”  The family and the nursery, whose principal was aware of the home education statutory guidance, were naturally concerned by the level of misinformation emanating from the LA, and that other parents may also be routinely misled, deliberately or otherwise, by Named Persons within public services.

 

These are only the tip of a very large iceberg of professionally orchestrated abuses of children’s and families’ rights, with which the government and publicly funded children’s charities appear to be colluding without a hint of remorse.


 


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Beware of cuddly cuddies! Montrose NO2NP roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/montrose-no2np-roadshow http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/montrose-no2np-roadshow#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 10:58:04 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5165 montrose no2np roadshow

 

Image credit: Montrose Review (related article here)


Schoolhouse co-ordinator Alison Preuss was one of the speakers at the latest NO2NP roadshow, which attracted a lively audience to the Park Hotel in Montrose. Chaired by Michael Veitch from the Christian Institute, the audience also heard from Lesley Scott of the Tymes Trust which represents families of young ME sufferers.

 

Concerned members of the public took the opportunity to raise questions and concerns about lack of training for teachers, named person allocation for home educated children, data sharing without consent, consequences of ‘non-engagement’, and the potentially damaging effects of ‘labelling’ children from an early age. A reporter / photographer from the Montrose Review was in attendance and the event should hopefully receive coverage in next week’s edition.

 

This was the last in a series of eight roadshows held across Scotland following the campaign launch in June and coincided with the end of the judicial review hearing at the Court of Session, the outcome of which is eagerly anticipated by us all.

 

Alison’s presentation on behalf of Schoolhouse is reproduced below at the request of those who were unable to attend the event. What Alison didn’t realise at the time was that a friend of her former Latin teacher was in the audience!

 

 

Schoolhouse presentation, Montrose NO2NP roadshow


It’s a real pleasure to be here tonight, back in my home town and just a few hundred yards from my old school, which I couldn’t wait to leave in 1974 but which I now look back on fondly for providing a proper education through sound academic teaching. All long since abandoned in favour of the ‘experiences and outcomes’ of the Curriculum for Excellence which is inextricably linked to the Named Person scheme and the bigger GIRFEC picture – Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen.

 

Being a bit of a misunderstood minority, home educators have developed highly sensitive ‘early identification’ antennae to detect threats to our existence. We’ve been variously accused of subjecting our children to neglect or abusedomestic servitude, forced marriage and religious fundamentalism and have had quite a few Mel Gibson moments as the state has repeatedly tried to encroach on our freedom to educate our children ‘by other means’. From a purely self-preservation point of view, we have been actively opposing the universal data gathering behind what was to become the Named Person scheme for more than 12 years. We saw this one coming for everyone, not just us, and really wish we had been wrong.

 

Back in my Higher Latin class at the Academy, under the tutelage of George McLeod and Alistair Russell, we studied Virgil’s Aeneid, where some sneaky Greeks used the gift of a wooden horse to fool the Trojans into letting their guard down. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes was forever seared into my memory, along with ardentes lapides caelo ceciderunt (but that’s another story!) Well, what we have with Part 4 of the Children and Young People Act is effectively a Tartan Trojan horse that may at first sight seem to be a cuddly sort of cuddy, but before you know it, will be taking you for a ride in a direction you may not want to go in, to a destination you may not want to reach.

 

trojan horse

 

For the record, we are the lab rats for Tony Blair’s New Labour social engineering  project known as ‘early intervention’, which was allegedly designed to identify the delinquents of tomorrow and ‘remediate’ them, but effectively consigns most of us to the ‘criminals in waiting’ class for ease of ‘management’.

 

The first sneaky move by the government was to lower the established child protection threshold from “at risk of significant harm” to “at risk of not meeting the state’s dictated wellbeing outcomes”, based on an all encompassing risk assessment framework that includes being under 5, an only child, having a disabled parent or one who is ‘non engaging’.The next step was to persuade the public, by embarking on an emotive PR campaign , that this new scheme was being introduced to help save the most vulnerable children and prevent future tragedies.

 

You’d think it would be difficult to get sensible people to believe that building bigger haystacks would make it easier to find smaller needles . You’d also think that lessons might have been learned from the Isle of Man which abandoned a similar scheme after children’s services melted down due to over-referral, but apparently every single MSP was fooled (or more likely told how to vote), despite a significant number of clued up parents alerting them to the implications for every single family in the land.

 

Tony Benn famously described the policy as “eugenics, the sort of thing Hitler talked about”, and as a former student of Mrs Morrison and Mr Pullar at the Academy, where the Higher History syllabus covered both world wars, it’s hard to disagree.  Having also lived in Germany (with a decent grasp of the language thanks to Mr George the German teacher), I heard straight from the horse’s mouth about the experiences of some who lived through the Nazification process of the 1930s. What they all related was that : “there’s no deadline for when a free nation becomes a police state, the bar just gets gradually lower and lower until one day you can’t squeeze under it, and you’re trapped.”  We’ve all seen the Sound of Music. You should all look at the risk assessment framework and see how many boxes you tick.

 

Of course the government and its highly paid charity cheerleaders boldly claim early intervention to be the final solution for every social ill afflicting Scotland, but it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine how an army of state snoopers covertly recording every child’s pet bereavements (I kid you not!), lunch box contents, pocket money rates and mummy and daddy’s failure to buy the latest trainers is going to help the few children who are already known to be at risk of something far worse than missing out on their five a day.

 

Indeed as we have heard on earlier roadshows from paediatrician Dr Jenny Cunningham, there is no evidence to support the premise that early intervention makes an iota of difference and can in fact damage children and families. It does, however, allow service providers new and exciting publicly funded opportunities to perform subjective ‘parental capacity to provide wellbeing’ assessments at every stage of every child’s life from the womb onwards. It’s also an open invitation for IT companies to flog ever more sophisticated surveillance software to database and ‘profile’ the population. Big data is worth big bucks to the economy.

 

Which brings me to the Evidence2Success school survey that caused such a stooshie in Perth and Kinross due to its notorious questioning of pupils about their sexual and drug taking habits and ‘feelings of worthlessness’.  It  had to be hastily rebranded as ChildrenCount so that it could be rolled out in new Trojan Horse wellbeing livery to the school children of Angus, Dundee and North Ayrshire where parental consent was deemed unnecessary as some folk might make a fuss. Unfortunately for those conducting the North Ayrshire supplementary household survey, the ‘Saltcoats Solution’ was deployed by parents who robustly rebuffed the advances of strange blokes from Birmingham asking dodgy questions about young children!

 

GIRFEC may have been ‘piloted’ in Highland, but it’s not a Scottish idea. It’s part of the same outcomes based policy that is being pursued relentlessly across the EU and relies on accumulating every bit of data about every one of us to allow the government to cross-reference information and control citizens’ behaviour through proactive ‘nudging’ and/or forced intervention. E-profiling is now a reality and pity help you if you don’t build your four capacities according to the state’s good citizen template, for which you need to show you are a successful learner, confident individual, responsible citizen and effective contributor.  There are of course set marking  guidelines in the form of tick box assessments  to measure your performance in each. As the proverbial square peg, I don’t score very highly according to their round hole criteria. The Academy clearly served me well!

 

Since the Children and Young People Act was passed in February, more and more families are experiencing unwanted interference by Named Persons up to and including referrals to the children’s reporter on spurious grounds. This is happening two years before the provision is scheduled to come into force, but families are already having their personal data stolen and assessed by multi-agency box tickers who may not personally approve of particular parenting choices and have had a couple of hours’ training  on how to circumvent the law. Think chronic illness and disability, vaccination, travelling lifestyles, home birthing, attachment parenting, and remember the Ashya King case which resulted in a European Arrest Warrant being issued for ‘irresponsible’ parents seeking a second opinion and private medical treatment for their sick child.

 

So what about the Highland pilot that has been used to justify imposing a data collector on every child in Scotland?

 

 

  • Secondly, it was selective – the pilot was not a universal ‘service’ across Highland, but one in which parents whose children had additional needs were over-represented and understandably crying out for single point of contact, having been serially fobbed off in the past.

 

The social engineers have of course been busy defending the indefensible with large helpings of spin.

 

 

  • It was publicly claimed there were no complaints, but the press has carried stories of parents who did complain and were ignored. Schoolhouse has also been hearing from them on a regular basis.

 

  • The ‘evidence’ was purely policy based, having been commissioned from vested interests who need to justify their own highly paid existence for the next funding round. The so called ‘children’s workforce’ is big business and the public sector and big state funded charities have all fallen into line, drowning out smaller grass roots groups who have witnessed the pitfalls at first hand.

 

  • Named Person apologists like to shout about children’s rights, but by citing Convention rights on a selective basis as an excuse to intrude into young lives, database entire families’ sensitive personal information and force them into doing  something against their will, where they are not ‘at risk of significant harm’, they are perverting the whole purpose of the UNCRC which is supposed to prevent the abuse of minors. A right is not a right if you don’t have the right to refuse, like forcing a Named Person on every child without opt out and stealing data without consent.

 

  • Finally, our favourite claim is that the opponents of GIRFEC (that’s us!) are all misguided scaremongers who don’t understand that  it’s only a signposting service for parents who want it, there’s no obligation to use it, and they’re only here to help (where have we heard that one before?If it’s really so great and we are all asking for it, it surely begs the question, why make it compulsory?

 

There are also some familiar old chestnuts that are repeatedly trotted out by those who haven’t bothered to think through the implications, so let’s just take a minute to dispose of them:

 

  • “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”, but how many people would willingly hand over their online banking passwords and why on earth would they bother with privacy settings on social media accounts if they have nothing to hide? Ashya King’s parents had nothing to hide and look where it got them! Personally, I am happier hiding my wobbly bits from public view, although it isn’t a crime to eat too many cakes (yet!)  Also remember that “privacy is a necessary condition of mental health and wellbeing”, which is one of the reasons it is specifically protected in human rights legislation.

 

  • “If it saves just one child…” is another cliché used by people who have no understanding of the realities of child protection, which is deadly serious business, and confuse it with the state’s woolly “wellbeing” indicators. GIRFEC didn’t save Mikaeel Kular who was killed by his mother, despite being known to be vulnerable by children’s services in Edinburgh and Fife where the Named Person is already operational and already causing problems for families who have been the subjects of malicious referrals. When implemented universally, GIRFEC puts the most vulnerable children at greater risk by diverting resources from already overstretched child protection social work services.

 

  • “We need to know everything about your family so we can plan the services you’ll need.” For that read “the services we decide you’ll need” as the enabling state is primed to disable dissenters who may stray from the “right” set of outcomes as determined by the government. Why not actually address the needs of parents and children who are already queuing up to ask for support they have identified as necessary but are being turned away through lack of resources or disagreement on the part of professionals?

 

The future isn’t bright if we do nothing, so we need to keep reminding parents that no family is now safe from routine state intervention. The bar has been set so low that we’re all deemed a risk to our children’s wellbeing.


Fortunately the judicial review is in progress, but who would have thought that law abiding citizens would need to go to court to protect their children from the government’s assault on their human rights?  For the sake of every child, we can’t afford for the legal challenge to fail.

 

In the meantime we are relying on our overarching rights under Article 8 of the ECHR, the EU Data Protection Directives and the UK wide Data Protection Act, none of which the Scottish Parliament has the legislative competence to override.

 

Here are some of our tried and tested  tactics to keep the snoopers at bay:

 

  • Opt out of any school surveys and don’t allow your child to be coerced into taking part. Have an opt-out note attached to your child’s records and remind teachers that there is a law against grooming children to disclose personal sensitive data.

 

  • Formally withhold or withdraw consent from every ‘service provider’ for any data processing without your written authority and obtain confirmation that they have complied with your instructions. This might make you a non engaging parent in the risk assessment stakes, but Aileen Campbell has stated on public record that there is no requirement to engage with a Named Person. They really need to make up their minds!

 

  • Avoid providing personal information to service providers wherever possible, including third sector organisations whose remit is now to mine data from you and your children. Try not to get guilt tripped into providing ‘feedback’ which they claim they need to prove they have met their outcomes, to get their next grant and provide future services (you get the drift).

 

  • Submit subject access requests under the Data Protection Act to obtain your own and your children’s records and do so on a regular basis. They must produce them within 40 days and you may be surprised at what has been recorded and shared about you with every Tom, Dick and Harry, playground tittle-tattle included. (One parent was surprised to learn she was emigrating, not just moving two streets away!) Do you really want your child’s teachers to have access to your entire family’s medical and social work records at the click of a mouse so that they can go on fishing expeditions (something that is specifically prohibited under EU Data Protection Directives)?  The Assistant Information Commissioner seems remarkably complacent and is even quoted in Perth and Kinross Council’s  training manual that encourages staff to break the law, but his lay ‘opinion’ looks very shoogly when compared to the opinion of leading counsel, especially in the context of the Haringey judgement and a growing number of European cases.

 

  • Make formal complaints about every concern you have as a parent about the actions of your child’s NP – whether a health visitor, nursery worker, teacher or ‘other’. Consider asking for access to their police, health and social work records so that you can satisfy yourself as to their suitability to work with your child. On the Home Ed Forums website you’ll find a 50 page thread listing professionals convicted of abusing children as disclosure checks obviously only find those who have been caught. The ‘care’ system routinely fails the most vulnerable children, the Rotherham sexual abuse scandal is said to be the tip of an iceberg of organised exploitation and Scotland has plenty of its own embarrassing skeletons rattling their way out of the closet. It’s surely telling that children’s databases are commonly referred to in IT circles as ‘paedophiles’ address books’.

 

  • Finally, when you find government agents at your door announcing they’re there to help you, whether you like it or not, employ the Saltcoats Solution and send them packing with directions to the NO2NP website!

 

 

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NO2NP November Roadshows: Perth & Montrose http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/no2np-november-roadshows-perth-montrose http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/home-ed-in-the-news/no2np-november-roadshows-perth-montrose#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:14:19 +0000 alisonp http://www.schoolhouse.org.uk/?p=5150 No2np roadshowsDon’t miss these upcoming NO2NP roadshows in Perth and Montrose!

 

no2np roadshows

 

 

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