Nov 082017

By Duncan Harley.

Freedom of speech is a fragile thing. Often hard won, it can be taken away at the stroke of a pen as an Aberdeenshire head teacher found to his cost in 1940.
Various Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts came into force in the early months of WW2.

Some, such as Defence Regulation 18B, provided a framework for internment of enemy aliens while others, like the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939, gave the State wide-ranging powers to prosecute the war.

Aspects of life in the UK came under State control including the “apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the Regulations.” In short, anyone suspected of acting against the national interest in any way whatsoever might suffer the indignity of a pre-dawn knock at the door.

The village of Oyne was of course quite distant from the battlefields. It had narrowly escaped being bombed by a German Zeppelin in a previous conflict but in the big scheme of things Oyne was not a front-line target. Nor was it a hotbed of pro-Nazi sympathy.

This was 1940 however and a paranoid nation was smarting from the military defeat in France. Invasion loomed and an aerial bombing campaign had begun. Towns across the North east had been attacked and coastal shipping had been sunk by German planes off both Stonehaven and Peterhead.

The newspapers of the time are filled with reports of arrests for the offence of “Careless Talk.” A meter reader from Oxford was detained after alleging “we should be just as well under the Nazi’s as we are now!” A Dorset policeman was jailed for expressing similar sentiments and a Peterhead plumber was fined £5 for “careless talk on the phone.”

Headmasters appear to have been at particular risk of prosecution. Overheard warning pupils that following imminent invasion they would have to resort to eating cats and dogs, a Lanarkshire headmaster found himself before a Hamilton Magistrate and at Oyne, George Hendry the local Primary School Headmaster, received the dreaded knock on the door in the late afternoon of June 24th.

The unwelcome visitor was Detective Inspector McHardy of Aberdeen City Police and, after suitable interrogation, Hendry was arrested on matters relating to the Defence Regulations. Lurid headlines followed and public interest was aroused.

Initially there was just the one charge. This related to statements made in the Union Street grocer’s shop of Andrew Collie & Co. Witnesses alleged that Mr Hendry expressed the view that Neville Chamberlain had sold the country down the river and should be placed against a wall and shot. The King, he said, was off to Canada leaving the country “Holding the baby” and Hitler seemingly had sufficient Torpedo Boats to sink the entire British Navy.

Oyne Primary School.

Following arrest, Hendry was released on bail of £60. On Monday July 15th the curious of Aberdeenshire queued to witness what promised to be a juicy trial at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

Mr Hendry by now faced four charges – the police had been busy.

Alongside remarks about the King and Hitler’s naval prowess, there were allegations of him spreading alarm by remarking on Britain’s unpreparedness for war.

One prosecution witness termed Hendry a fifth columnist and had ordered him out of her shop but under cross-examination admitted she had in fact been joking and considered him simply a leg-puller. Another witness told the court she had discussed the war with him on several occasions and that despite their differences, there was no bad blood between them.

Finally, the case against the Oyne headmaster boiled down to one very simple issue: the spreading of defeatist talk. In a fine piece of courtroom theatre, Mr Blades for the defence lured the manager of Collie’s grocer shop into admitting that the case would never even have been brought had he himself not spread gossip about Mr Hendry’s statements to a crowd, including a policeman, at the public bar of the Royal Athenaeum.

Sheriff Dallas had clearly heard quite enough. A verdict of Not Proven on all four charges was greeted with applause from the crowded courtroom.

George Hendry, a graduate of Aberdeen University, became Headmaster at Oyne in 1927 having previously taught in Forres.  After the trial he returned to his post until his retiral, due to ill health, in 1963. He died in 1966 age just 63.

Duncan Harley is a writer living in the Garioch and author of the soon to be published A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire:

‘Hitler’s Headmaster’ was first published in the April 2017 edition of Leopard Magazine.

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Sep 152017

Members of Kintore United 2007 with Coach George Boyd (left) and Cllr Glen Reid (right).

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

East Garioch councillor Glen Reid is delighted to announce that he has reached agreement with Aberdeenshire Council to open the superb 3G all weather football pitch at Midmill School to local youth sports group. The school was opened in November 2016, but the brand new pitch has been locked up and unavailable to anyone after the school day finished at 3.15pm.

Commenting, SNP councillor for East Garioch Glen Reid said:

“Today is a great day for the community with the opening up of this pitch. It is one of the reasons that I decided to stand for election in May. As a local resident and a member of Kintore Community Council, I had raised this matter repeatedly, but had no joy. Since being elected, I have campaigned tirelessly for this facility to be accessed by our children, and it’s great to welcome the footballers of Kintore United 2007s here to the inaugural training night.”

Kintore United, who have boys and girls age group teams from primary one right through to academy years, will have access to train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, from 6.00 until 10.00 pm initially on a trial basis until the end of the year.

Continuing, SNP councillor Glen Reid said:

“If the trial is successful, then we will be looking at adding further dates and opening the venue up to school football teams as well. I wish to thank the Aberdeenshire Council officers who listened to the frustrations of the community. The local grass pitches can be a nightmare during the winter months and even other times of the year, so this facility now offers the children guaranteed training every week in an excellent environment.”

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May 052017

With thanks to Aberdeenshire SNP.

Peterhead South & Cruden SNP councillor Stephen Smith has welcomed the upgrade to the footpath linking Morrison Place with Braehead Drive in Cruden Bay, an important access to Port Erroll School.

Following complaints late last year that the existing steps – which had been constructed from wooden logs by the developer of Morrison Place many years ago – were rotten and presented a slip hazard during wet weather, managed to get replacement steps installed by the council’s Landscape Services department.

Commenting, Cllr Stephen Smith said:

“This is an important footpath as it serves as a safe route to school and means primary school children avoid the busy A975 which runs through the village.

“The steps had served well since the developer installed them at the time Morrison Place was constructed but I was receiving complaints they were not only past their best but were now presenting a slip hazard during wet weather and were also rotting away.

“I contacted the council’s Landscape Services department asking them to assist and I’m pleased to say they have done a really excellent job in renewing and upgrading the steps.”

Fellow ward councillor Stuart Pratt added:

“This is a job well done and means that the most regular users of the path – the pupils and parents at Port Erroll School – can continue to have a safe route to use, away from heavy traffic.”

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Apr 112017

By Fin Hall.

Nuart Aberdeen has finally arrived. A first for the city, sees a collection of street artists, organised by Aberdeen Inspired gather to paint, talk and show films etc over the Easter

Old and rarely used doors on the streets within the city centre, mainly around the Merchant Quarter, are being painted in different styles by different artists.

Among the artists participating in this current international project is Julien de Casabianca, a French/Corsican artist.

His Outgoing project features images of paintings in art galleries, often taken by members of the public on their phones, the main subject from said painting isolated via photoshop, then printed onto paper.

This paper is then pasted on buildings, walls etc in public spaces.

To this end various primary schools were invited to send a group of children to Aberdeen Museum Treasure Hub in Northfield, a building which stores many of the works of art that have been relocated from the Art Gallery during the refurbishment that is currently ongoing.

I was in invited by Aberdeen Inspired and NuArt to catalogue this process, working with Manor Park, Riverbank and Walker Road schools.

On arrival, the children were told what the general purpose of their visit would entail, before being split into two or three groups. I would stick with one of the groups each time. This took place on three Thursdays in March.

In the first part of their session, the children would be in an almost classroom like situation where they were given practically free rein to express themselves art wise.

They had a large wall mounted monitor complete with a white screen where they could copy images from the Art Gallery’s digital representation of the art works in it’s collection, or just draw whatever they wished; there were props and dressing up clothes so they could utilise and get their friends to take photos of themselves, or take selfies, with their iPads.

Also, there were word searches and sheets of A4 paper which had a pre-printed frame on, so they could draw whatever took their fancy. It was interesting to watch and see how they reacted and the choice they made. Some would throw themselves wholeheartedly into it, others just sat quietly and concentrated on drawing.

After about 45 minutes, the group I was with were taken through into the first of two storage rooms, with their iPads, to view and photograph the paintings, or rather, parts of paintings, be it a figure, an animal or something like a tree.

the youngsters had ever seen such paintings, and they were quite amazed

This room contained paintings of various sizes and from various eras, stored in racks which slid out when pulled. These works of art were paintings done on either canvas or or other fabrics, but not paper.

Some of the works they weren’t able to capture because they are still under copyright, or were covered in protective tape and plastic, but many others were available.

This was the first time that many of  and interested in them. I had to explain to them that they should concentrate on just part of a painting, and not fill their screen with the whole thing, some of which, as you can imagine were rather large.

After that they were led into a smaller room where paintings and drawings done on paper, were stored in drawers. Some of these drawers were already pulled out and at just the right height for the children to stand over, making sure that their device covers were either removed or held securely up, and snap until their hearts’ content.

The net result is that selected photographs the children have taken will be chosen to be the ones used by Julian to paste up in the East Green – an area other artists will be utilising, and where the official opening ceremony on Saturday 15th April will take place.

This part of he city already has several doors from the Painted Doors project already in situ. So it is the perfect location for the hub of the event.

Saying that, there will be several events taking place in the few days leading up to that. See the NuArt website for details.

All in all it was a pleasure to be involved with the schoolchildren.

The Treasure Hub is available for group and organisation tours. It is well worth visiting. So, this coming week get out and about in the city centre and see this unique event.

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Apr 072017

With thanks to Jessica Murphy, Senior Account Executive, Citrus:Mix.

Youngsters from Aberdeen schools have delved into the city’s prestigious art collection to get inspiration for their special involvement in Nuart Aberdeen.
Pupils from Manor Park, Woodside, Riverbank, Seaton and Walker Road primary schools got the opportunity to explore a wide range of art at the Treasure Hub in Northfield, currently being kept in safe storage while the Aberdeen Art Gallery undergoes its multi-million pound redevelopment. 

The sessions were held as part of The Outings Project, a participatory public art project founded by the globally renowned artist Julian de Casabianca.

The artist, who is participating in the inaugural Nuart Aberdeen festival, will work with the youngsters to paste their selected characters at specific sites in Aberdeen city centre.

Pupils had the opportunity to examine a number of paintings from the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums Collections, from Portrait of a Lady (The Artist’s Wife) by William Dyce to La Perla de Triana by John Phillip, among others, choosing and photographing their favourite characters to share with the Aberdeen public.

They will then enlarge and paste them up in the city centre under the guidance of Julian, as well as in their own schools and neighbourhoods – getting the change to turn the streets into temporary art galleries during the festival, which is taking place from Friday April 14 to Sunday April 16.

The artworks that the children accessed for this project aren’t currently on display, giving the public a wonderful opportunity to enjoy them in a new way.

It is hoped that the project will help children feel involved in the festival, especially as their efforts will also be displayed in their local areas, as well as encourage new audiences to engage with the Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums collection.

There are a number of fun ways for youngsters and families to get involved in Nuart Aberdeen including street printing and chalk drawing workshops, walking tours and an Easter Sunday Street Art hunt.

Nuart Aberdeen will officially open on Saturday April 15, when Herakut’s monumental mural on the façade of Aberdeen Market will be unveiled before the guided Street Art tours begin.

Local breakdance group Bring It Boys will perform a ‘Street Art’ inspired routine created especially for the event.

Also on Saturday, the street printing workshop with Berlin-based collective Raubdruckerin will teach participants how to transform old clothes with street inspired graphic designs from the area in and around Castlegate.

The Chalk Don’t Chalk workshop, being held on St Nicholas Centre’s Rooftop Garden on Sunday April 16, gives children of all ages the “freedom of the city” to create their own chalk street art pieces, with professional artists on hand to teach and guide children on their designs.

Belgian street artist Jaune has been busy hiding his mischievous bin men and women around Aberdeen city centre for the Easter Sunday Street Art hunt also on Sunday. Children can follow the hints provided to find six hidden artworks and win a special Easter Sunday prize.

Elaine Farquharson-Black, director at Aberdeen Inspired and partner at sponsor Burness Paull, said:

“It was wonderful to see the children enjoying the sessions at The Treasure Hub and getting so involved. Nuart Aberdeen is a legacy project for us and we are really looking forward to seeing their paste-ups in the city centre and their local communities.

“This particular project was the brainchild of Julian de Casabianca and it was intended for local children to feel ownership of these images. It is also hoped that they will bring their families to enjoy the Art Gallery when it re-opens in 2018/19 because it will feel, quite rightly, as if they are artists, in the same way as those displayed in our local art space are.

“We would like to extend our thanks to Aberdeen City Council for supporting school staff during these project, as well as community staff who will help with the next stage, and of course, the Aberdeen Art Gallery staff who facilitated the sessions at the Treasure Hub.

“There will be a range of fun events that youngsters and their families can take advantage of during Nuart Aberdeen and I would urge everyone to check out the programme and enjoy what is on offer.”

An Aberdeen City Council spokesman said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our schools and pupils are participating so enthusiastically in the latest festival offering in Aberdeen’s cultural calendar. We have placed a huge emphasis on culture and education and to bring the two together at the Treasure Hub and for the children to work with a globally renowned artist is absolutely fantastic.”

For more information on Nuart Aberdeen please visit

Aberdeen Inspired is the banner under which the Aberdeen BID (Business Improvement District) operates. It is a business-led initiative within the city centre in which levy payers within the BID zone contribute. Proceeds are used to fund projects designed to improve the business district and driving footfall to the zone.

More information on the work of Aberdeen Inspired is available at

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Oct 062016

With thanks to Kenneth Hutchison, Parliamentary Assistant to Dr. Eilidh Whiteford.


Dr Whiteford with four of the Banff pupils who will benefit from the Project.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has lauded staff and organisers, following the official launch of the Chevron Boatbuilding Outreach Programme at the Portsoy Boatshed yesterday.

The Chevron Outreach Project, launched today, will provide 14 to 16 year-olds with an out-of-school opportunity to develop skills in boat building.

The Boatshed, part funded by Aberdeenshire Council, Portsoy’s Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) has developed a formerly disused building on Shore Street into a purpose built facility for boat building to be enjoyed by the whole community.

The Boatshed was opened at the 2016 Scottish Traditional Boat Festival.

Speaking after the opening ceremony, Dr Whiteford said:

“The project is an absolutely fantastic resource which will give youngsters in the Banff area the kind of real, hands on training and life skills that employers really value. It builds on the good work done establishing the Boatshed, and credit is due to the staff and volunteers at Portsoy Community Enterprise, staff at Chevron and Banff Academy for bringing the project to fruition.”

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Jul 212016

With thanks to Phil Moar, Account Manager, Citrus:Mix.


Nearly £8,000 has been raised for charity after a new event had a city centre garden jumping for joy.

Big Bounce at Bon Accord welcomed kids and big kids to the greenspace last month (June 25-26) for the fundraising event which saw attendees able to enjoy eight inflatables installed within the space.

From bungee runs to bouncy castles, people turned out in their numbers to support Bon Accord & St Nicholas in its fundraising efforts for both CLAN Cancer Support and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity. 

The event also fell under the UK-wide One Great Day initiative.

As well as the inflatables, a range of pop-up food and drink retailers were also present, with music and entertainment throughout both days adding to the party atmosphere.

On Friday (June 24), the fundraising effort was also aided by five classes from Walker Road Primary School carrying out a sponsored Mini Bounce within the garden, with pupils each playing their part in helping their class jump continuously for 30 minutes. The big-hearted school’s efforts added more than £1,100 to the overall fundraising total.

Craig Stevenson, centre manager at Bon Accord & St Nicholas, said:

Susan Crighton, CLAN’s fundraising manager, said:

“The Big Bounce weekend was a fantastic new addition to the city centre event calendar and we’re thrilled to have been selected as one of the beneficiaries of the day.

“I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all those who took the time to visit over the course of the weekend and a special mention to the fantastic efforts of the Walker Road pupils who went above and beyond with their own fundraising session.

“Money raised for CLAN through the One Great Day initiative will go towards the charity’s provision of free wellbeing and support services for anyone affected by cancer across the north and north-east of Scotland; it really will make a massive difference.”

One Great Day is the brainchild of Bon Accord & St Nicholas owner BMO Real Estate and sees a range of local fundraising events held at over 60 shopping centres across the UK. All funds raised go towards Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and other local charities.

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Jun 302016

Gary Shand George Sq sculpture prior to oiling 2By Duncan Harley.

Inverurie has a new and exciting piece of artwork courtesy of north east based chainsaw sculptor Gary Shand.

When Aberdeenshire Council Landscape Services Officer Ken Regan realised that he had a dead elm tree on his hands he decided to approach Gary in the hope of persuading him to transform the 25ft high stump into a piece of public art.

“I had seen carved tree stumps in the parks of Barcelona … the notion that folk could almost randomly stumble upon them appealed and when this opportunity arose it seemed appropriate to create one for Inverurie” said Ken.

Sited in parkland on George Square outside Inverurie’s St Andrew’s School, the sculpting process immediately drew comments from local residents. Carving a tree trunk with a power-saw is after all a very public process.

Says Gary,

“It was really interesting overhearing the comments. At the beginning folk were mainly asking what it was for and what did it mean. Towards the end of the week I detected a sense of ownership. Folk had literally adopted the piece as a part of their local environment.”


Chainsaw sculptor Gary Shand

The design stage involved consultation with St Andrew’s School pupils. Drawings were produced and, as Gary puts it “the ideas were put into the blender.” The image of the children with arms around each other, lifting each other up and reaching for the sky was the result and “Aspire” was born.

With a background in forestry and a lifelong interest in the creative arts, Gary was an obvious choice for the project. “In fact we were fortunate that he was able to commit to the work” said Ken Regan.

Alongside his “Stump Sculptures” Gary creates bespoke pieces, often from elm, suited to the average size home.

“Dutch Elm disease has been a mixed blessing” he says.

“it’s not quite so good for forests but is useful if you are a carver … Elm is an ideal timber for outdoor sculpture and providing you keep it moist, which is easy in Scotland, it will last forever.”

Given that the Romans utilized elm for water-pipes, Gary is not far wrong.

Samples of Gary’s work can be seen at www/

Images and text © Duncan Harley

First published in the June 2016 edition of Leopard Magazine

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Apr 082016

No other European country has attempted to enact a programme of this level of mandatory state intrusion into family life than the Scottish Named Person scheme is attempting. Suzanne Kelly looks at recent developments, reaching conclusions and making recommendations.

No2NP picThe Named Person Scheme is a complete shambles, whatever anyone’s political views on the SNP.

It is rolling out in August – despite no one from the First Minister down to the front line Named Persons being able to say for certain whether or not it is mandatory. Local authorities seem bound to bear most of the costs.

It has already been rolled out in places under the clunky and completely misleading moniker ‘Getting It Right For Every Child’.

One of the first approved Named Persons has been struck off teaching. Government-funded quangos and other organisations are queueing up like obedient circus animals to say what a great thing this is for children.

Groups concerned with human rights, rights of the child and abuses of power by the State are condemning it. It’s an out-of-control catalogue of failures and misleading statements set to put the State above the family.

The proponents tell you that they simply want children to be protected from abusive families. There is absolutely nothing in this scheme that seems to seek to provide protection from abusive teachers and authorities, and nothing in it to tackle the long-running, highy-damaging problem of bullying in schools. No, the only ‘enemy’ of the child that the scheme’s fans want to protect children from is the child’s family.

Chilling accounts of the pilot scheme are attracting some (but perhaps not enough) press coverage.

A girl in Aberdeen was pulled from her classes, asked lots of questions by a ‘nurse’ she’d never met before and who had not identified the purpose of the questions, which included highly personal ones.

A father finds a whole ream of documentation has been built up about a child’s runny nose and nappy rash – and a child being declared by a Named Person to be ‘depressed’ (Depression of course being a serious mental health condition requiring a physician’s diagnosis. Nevertheless, the child’s observed ‘depression’ is now on a permanent record for them and their family).

Questions about the scheme and its precursors have been met with a few answers, a number of conflicting answers, and a good deal of evasion.

Here are some of the issues which every young person and family should be aware of, and also some recommendations for those who have decided they do not want any part of this scheme.

Cautionary Tales for Families:

1. The Fairy Tale – Don’t worry about any perverts or abusive individuals becoming Named Persons:

“Anyone undertaking the Named Person role, such as Health Visitors and Head Teachers, will have already undergone a process of checks and vetting through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme which checks their suitability to work with children.” 

That was the official line from a Government spokesperson in July last year.

The Fact – Teacher appointed first Named Person State Guardian has been struck off. 

As the Scotsman reports, Elgin teacher Dayna Dickson-Boath was a named person; she was struck off for sharing fantasies of abusing children. In court it was found she:

“did send, by means of a public electronic communications network, messages to another person that were grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, in that you did converse regarding the sexual abuse of children.”

How did someone get this far into the educational system without being found out? How did the ‘checks and vetting’ promised by the Named Person Scheme’s administrators fail so profoundly? The scheme’s spokespeople are refusing to comment on whether or not disgraced former Aberdeen music teacher John Forrester – currently secretary of the Parent Teacher Association in Auchenblae – would have been a named person or not.  Forrester was investigated over an alleged affair with another pupil previous to this, and was meant to be supervised – yet started this relationship.

He’d left his first wife for a schoolgirl (he was 44), took up with schoolgirl Claire Bennett, and has since left her.

Could you imagine a person like that asking you or your child questions of any kind let alone about whether they were on the pill or had their period? The State wants this control over children, but when it came to this case of a student running away from home and then marrying her music teacher as soon as she was 16, the State decided it ‘was not in anyone’s interest’ to pursue a case against him. Well, it wasn’t in the state’s interest, anyway.

The authorities are happy that their vetting procedures are fine which saw a woman with sick child-related fantasies. They also didn’t find anything wrong with a 44 year old teacher having a clearly improper relationship with a 15 year old girl (maybe it’s OK because the couple swore they didn’t have sex until she was 16). So what kinds of things does the State actually object to so strenuously that they must be recorded?

2. The Fairytale – No new powers, child or young person will know what information is being shared:

Those in government determined to get the scheme approved have written:

“The legislation brings no new powers for teachers, or any other professionals.”


“The Act does not introduce any powers over a child for the Named Person role,”


“There are no powers in the Act plans to routinely gather and share information, or records. If there is a concern about wellbeing then relevant public bodies will share information proportionately and if relevant to addressing a concern. The child or young person will know what is being shared, for what reason and with whom and their views will be taken into account.”
– [email to S Kelly of July 2015]

The Fact – Thumbsucking, nappy rash, and a parent’s perceived refusal to take advice on thumbsucking:

So, perhaps you think that your child will just have a couple of pages about whether or not they’re happy, in serious trouble, have serious concerns to be addressed. Think again. By the time a toddler is sucking its thumb – now a reportable incident as is a parent’s lack of concern for it – expect dozens of pages of spying to have been amassed.

As the Scotsman reported, an education professional decided to try and obtain the records for their family The massive report, which was largely redacted, recorded that the father didn’t seem to take the Named Person’s advice about thumb sucking. Did he have to? Is that the type and level of detail that the State should get involved in? Is there an official position now on thumb-sucking?

The Scotsman’s article reads in part:

“Contained within a 60-page document that had been compiled about his family, the note referred to a blister which had appeared on the toddler’s thumb as a result of the childhood habit. It also suggested Smith contact his GP if the blister became “hot to touch or very red”.

“Smith, whose name has been withheld to protect the identities of his children, grew more alarmed as he leafed through the document, the vast majority of which had been redacted.

“The surviving extracts appeared to indicate that the minutiae of his family life had been recorded in painstaking detail for almost two years, under a Named Person scheme which has been introduced in his part of the country ahead of its final roll-out across all of Scotland in August. A separate note made by the Named Person charged with keeping an eye on the academic’s two little boys was concerned with nappy rash.”

Maybe this level of detail wouldn’t be so intrusive if the State showed as much interest in the children it has taken into care. Maybe this level of reporting doesn’t have any cost implications – even though it clearly has Human Rights implications (family life being a cornerstone of EU Human Rights legislation). Or maybe Mr Smith and others could simply exercised their rights to opt out of the Named Person Scheme?

Myths? Fairytales? The ambiguity of opting out and of the scheme’s costs:

So, do people need to comply with this programme? The government’s spokeswoman advised in July 2015 advised:

“No. As we have said before, there is no obligation for a parent, child or young person to engage with the Named Person. The legislation brings no new powers for teachers, or any other professionals.”
– [email to S Kelly July 2015]

Surely if the First Minister says it’s not mandatory, that is grounds for anyone to disregard a NP?

During First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, Ms Davidson asked:

“Are parents who don’t agree with this scheme able to stop their child from having a named person and withdraw their child from all named person provisions?”

Ms Sturgeon responded:

“The named person scheme is an entitlement, I think it is a good and sensible entitlement. It is not an obligation. It helps children and families get the support they need from services when they need it.

“It does not in any way, shape or form replace or change the role of the parent or carer or undermine families… It is not possible to predict in advance which children might become vulnerable.”

Perhaps ‘Mr Smith,’ reading the 60 page report on his toddler and seeing himself criticised for not paying attention to the NP’s thumb-sucking advice might disagree with Sturgeon on the undermining of families.

If it is not possible to predict in advance which children might be vulnerable, then that would come as a surprise to paediatricicans, hospitals and social workers. Perhaps what I needed is not this Kafkaesque scheme, but far better training and funding for the professionals who are charged with finding children who are at risk. Of course in some tragic instance, it is the State that fails our children.

From the girls in care who were physically abused by police (who drove them to a secluded spot and made them walk without shoes in manure while threatening then), to the tragic girls in care who jumped to their deaths – the state does not always get it right for the very people they have deemed at risk.

Wouldn’t logic dictate spending more resources on the risks we know about and looking for potential risks based on hospital records and clear indicators rather than from spying on each and every child in Scotland? It doesn’t get easier finding a needle in a haystack by adding more hay to it. So is it mandatory – and as bad as this Daily Mail article makes it seem?

As the First Minister is at odds with some of the NP evangelists, who can say? Why they want this database which any NP can add to and almost anyone in government can access raises alarm bells.

The word is that Sturgeon wants out of this ludicrous scheme – probably before we all start realising that the costs are coming from our taxes – and that the cost could be extremely exorbitant. Money has already been spent on a ludicruous, patronising song and a play for children (although anyone over 4 years old will fee their intelligence is being insulted).

The less-than-catchy anagram ‘SHANARRI’ (something to do with children’s rights) is a song rolled out by the Hopscotch Theatre Company and bankrolled by the taxpayer. Schools pay £400 to have the theatrical troupe come to their school to teach the children this state-supporting dogmatic song.

To call it a train wreck would be to do a huge disservice to train wrecks. Watch the video here, if you are able to stomach it:

“Let’s hold a vigil for every individual to play a part in the greatest team” the song suggests.

So, what is this one team we’re all meant to join and who’s in charge of it. This is the worst kind of brainwashing propaganda there is. Anyone associated with this should be ashamed. Alas, the comments are disabled on the video, no criticism will be brooked.

Just Say ‘NO’

There are more reasons to scotch this Scottish scheme. Here in the meantime are some tactics that might be useful.

School pupils – if you are old enough to understand the issues, and if you decide you don’t want to answer questions about whether you house is cozy, you like your siblings, or anything personal, tell your parents how you feel now. Get them and you to write a letter for you to both carry with you and for you to give a copy to your school head.

It should say:

‘I do not want to participate in any questions about my home life. The First Minister said that the Named Person scheme is not mandatory. I have told my parents how I feel and they support my decision not to answer personal questions or to have any notes kept about how I might be feeling.

‘If I have any problems, I will take them to an adult I feel comfortable discussing them with. I understand that one of the rights I have is to be respected. I am asking you to respect that right and leave me my privacy.’

Write to your elected representatives as an individual or as a family and say how you feel – here is an easy way to find them:

If someone asks you questions at school that are personal – ask them politely to tell you why they are asking. Show them the letter. Tell them that you have chosen not to participate in the Named Person scheme and you don’t wish to discuss it further. If you don’t know who they are, ask for their name.

Ask them for a list of questions they intend to ask you. Be aware that they are possibly going to start asking you questions as if they are just having a friendly conversation – if questions start getting uncomfortable or personal, you are always allowed to say you don’t feel it’s an appropriate subject to talk about and that you will let them know if you do want to talk about anything.

Keep a list of every time you are asked questions, what the questions are, your answers, and who is asking them.

If you ever feel pressured or threatened by anyone be they a relative, peer or a teacher or person in authority, tell someone who you trust about it straight away.

For teenage girls – it seems as if you might be in for the worst excesses of this scheme. It seems like your doctor or clinic might now be supposed to tell your named person if you want anything to do with birth control. Girls are being asked questions about their periods, sex and other items which you probably don’t want written down in a record somewhere.

Stand your ground, politely say now. If you are worried about your doctor revealing any information, remember that you can get some forms of birth control at the chemist, which won’t go on any record. But be safe, whatever you choose to do.

For adults – if your child doesn’t want to participate, see advice above. Further, think about asking your school for information about who your child’s Named Person is: turn the tables on them.

Tell them that you don’t want to participate, especially as you first want to know: Named Person’s criminal records, length of time teaching, whether they or any of their relatives, acquaintances have ever been on the sex offenders’ register. Ask them what qualifications they have to be asking questions which are very personal and which could have psychological implications.

If you/your child wants to find out what information is already being held about you, do a Subject Access Request.

As parents you can to access information about your child by making a SAR if the child is unable to act on their own behalf or has given their consent. Further information can be found here:

Make sure your child knows what I going on, and when they decide whether or not they want anything to do with this scheme, support their decision.

There is a chance commonsense, human rights, and logic will yet put this scheme on the scrap heap where it belongs. This might be too optimistic. We have a scheme no one knows whether it is mandatory or not, no one is sure of the cost or the scope of it, and those at the heart of grilling you or your children have already been proven to be disturbed potentially violent people with unhealthy interests in children.

Best advice? Be careful (and/or consider home schooling).

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Dec 242015

MartinFordUTGfeatWith thanks to Martin Ford.

Local councillor Martin Ford has commented on the decision facing the local community and Aberdeenshire Council over where to build the planned new Kinellar Primary School.
Cllr Martin Ford said:

“Aberdeenshire Council has been trying to buy the site allocated in the Local Development Plan for the new Kinellar School for several years and a compulsory purchase process was initiated in 2013. 

“However, in circumstances where there is an unwilling seller, the Council is not able to set a timetable for purchase, and due process must be followed.”

The Council has the budget allocated to deliver a new Kinellar School. Faced with on-going uncertainty regarding site acquisition the community is now being consulted on the alternative option of putting the new school building on the current school site.

“The delay and uncertainty over being able to acquire the intended new school site do mean it is now necessary to consider whether a change of plan may be better,” said Cllr Ford.

A public engagement event took place recently (Tuesday, December 15) organised by Aberdeenshire Council to discuss proposals, timescales and options for a new Kinellar Primary School with parents and carers. Over 70 people attended the event to learn about two options proposed by the Council: to either continue negotiation to acquire the site for the new school identified in the Local Development Plan, or; a new build on the existing Kinellar Primary School site.

In relation to the option of building on the current school site, Kinellar School pupils would be educated at the new Midmill School in Kintore from January 2017 until the new Kinellar School was completed around summer 2018. Transport to Kintore would be provided by the Council, as well as additional spaces within the after school club and, for younger children, arrangements would be made to retain nursery provision in Blackburn.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“The decision now required about where to construct the new school building is down to circumstances. There are advantages and disadvantages to both the possible options put forward by the Council. Neither choice is risk free.

“The site identified for the new school in the Local Development Plan is larger and moving the school to it frees up the current school site, potentially for other community facilities. But the uncertainty over site acquisition is a huge problem.

“The current school site is already in Council ownership, but it’s smaller than ideal. There may be other planning applications for the site allocated in the Local Development Plan for the new school if it is not used for that purpose.”

Cllr Ford has welcomed the good attendance at the engagement event on 15 December. For people who couldn’t attend the meeting and have any questions, or would like a copy of the presentation, contact learning estates quality improvement manager Maxine Booth by January 7, at:

A further report on both options for Kinellar Primary School will be presented to Aberdeenshire Council’s Policy and Resources Committee in January with further opportunities for engagement pending the outcome.

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