Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed

Outcome5_thumbWhy is this National Outcome important?

It is during our very earliest years and even pre-birth that a large part of the pattern for our future adult life is set. The messages from research across a wide variety of fields, such as physical and mental health, education, justice and economics are clear: investment in a child's early years pays dividends for that child. This is true in terms of his or her educational outcomes, health outcomes, and future life prospects. Investment in the early years also pays dividends for society as a whole, not only in social capital but also in economic terms. Economic modelling work published by Scottish Government in November 2010 suggests that £1 invested in preventative measures can save £9 on more acute services in later life.

What will influence this National Outcome?

Our Early Years Framework was jointly developed with local government in order to ensure that national and local efforts are all focused on meeting the needs of children and families. The framework takes an early intervention approach, moving from dealing with the symptoms of inequality to addressing the causes. Through giving support at the first opportunity, we will promote child and maternal health, support early development and learning, promote play and provide proactive support for parents and carers, reinforcing families and strengthening communities. In addition we will offer better chances for those at risk and tackle drug and alcohol misuse.

The early years of life are largely defined by the family. A child brought up in a stable and nurturing environment is better placed to succeed in life than a child from a less secure background. We believe, therefore, that the biggest gains in improved outcomes and reduced inequality will come from supporting parents and carers, tackling health and other inequalities and by creating safer, stronger communities which are positive places to grow up in.

The approach behind Getting it Right for Every Child, our national vision for children's services, supports this intention and indeed the whole early years framework. We will continue to develop services which are integrated across the public sector and centred around the needs of children and families.

This is a long term effort. Improving outcomes and tackling entrenched inequality will not be achieved overnight. The benefits of early intervention can only be realised by prioritising preventative spend across local government, the health service and the entire public sector and will be felt across outcomes relating to health, community well being and economic prosperity.

What is the Government's role?

The Early Years Framework signals the commitment of both local and national governments to break this cycle through prevention and early intervention. We aim, in short, to give every child in Scotland the best start in life and to raise the bar for all children. The Scottish Government have restated commitment to the delivery of the Early Years Framework and in their 2011 Manifesto began to prioritise certain elements and quicken the pace of delivery:

  • Developing parents' capacity to be the best parents they can for their children and helping them in the vital role that they play in their child's life is key to this. To support this we have expanded and extended the highly successful early years marketing campaign, PlayTalkRead (PTR) and supporting website, showing parents the difference that positive parenting can make. In June 2011 a further investment of £750k to deliver on this commitment and to develop an enhanced programme of PTR activity was announced
  • We are developing a National Parenting Strategy which will ensure that parents and carers are able to access the support they need, when they need it. This will be delivered in three phases, with the first phase, a national position statement, being published in Spring 2012
  • We are rolling out the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme across Scotland. Plans are being developed to make this roll out a reality and in the region of £14m will be invested in this programme of activity over the Spending Review period
  • We have created an early years task force which will play a crucial role on agreeing and delivering on joint early years priorities including prioritising the commitment to preventative spend. To support that we will also ensure that every Community Planning Partnership in Scotland reflects the Early Years agenda in its Single Outcome Agreement
  • Providing support for parents and families to get into work, education and training is an important area. We will plan to put childcare at the centre of our ambition for families in Scotland. We will promote and support accessible, affordable, flexible childcare with the aim of matching the best in Europe
  • We will also ensure that children get early learning and development opportunities, prioritising those from deprived areas and ensuring that the workforce are highly trained and competent
  • We are investing in an Early Years change fund. Scottish Government will make a contribution of £50 million over 4 years and this will deliver a range of activity on family centres and family support, child and maternal health, play, childcare and early education. In addition local government and the NHS will contribute to the change fund and the change programme
  • To support all of this work and to ensure that the Early Years is on a solid legislative footing we will develop legislation to support our early years policies and ensure that the Getting it right for every child approach is developed nationwide.  A Children and Young People Bill will be introduced to Parliament in 2013.

Related Strategic Objectives



Wealthier and Fairer

Related National Indicators

l Improve knowledge exchange from university research

up Improve the skill profile of the population

l Increase the proportion of pre-school centres receiving positive inspection reports

l Increase the proportion of schools receiving positive inspection reports

l Improve levels of educational attainment

up Increase the proportion of young people in learning, training or work

l Increase the proportion of graduates in positive destinations

up Improve children's services

up Improve children's dental health

 Increase the proportion of babies with a healthy birth weight

 Increase the proportion of healthy weight children

 Increase physical activity

up Reduce the percentage of adults who smoke

up Reduce alcohol related hospital admissions

 Reduce the number of individuals with problem drug use

up Reduce the proportion of individuals living in poverty

 Reduce children's deprivation

Performance Improving Improve access to suitable housing options for those in housing need