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happy, safe and achieving their potential: a standard of support for children and young people in Scottish schools


happy, safe and achieving their potential
a standard of support for children and young people in Scottish schools
the report of The National Review of Guidance 2004

positive relationships and a caring school community

In order to meet the educational, care and welfare needs of children, staff must be supported to embrace attitudes, skills, experience and practices which create a caring school community in which each member of staff understands their role and feels confident to fulfil it.

The Role of Teachers

Teachers require a range of skills and qualities that should be a focus in the training and support of new teachers and the continuing professional development of the whole school community. Teachers should:

  • build positive relationships with individual children and young people and understand the importance of this in their lives
  • encourage and support pupils to take responsibility for their own learning and progress and plan their own next steps in learning
  • be an open and accessible source of information and support, provided confidentially, and ensure children and young people know they are willing to listen
  • be able to identify needs and concerns regarding children's and young people's welfare and personal development, as well as their academic progress
  • understand the role of specialist staff in schools and other agencies and have the ability to support children and young people to seek or accept their help
  • be ready to involve specialist staff in schools in supporting children and young people, support children and young people to approach specialist staff and refer to them appropriately
  • be able to communicate effectively with parents and other professionals, with and on behalf of the child or young person, sharing information on progress as well as problem solving
  • be accountable for the identification of children's and young people's needs, and subsequent responses and actions, in partnership with others in the school community and other services as required.

Emerging Practice - Staff Who Support Children and Young People

Emerging practice in Scottish schools shows that staff must be confident in their own abilities and comfortable with their part in creating an appropriate environment for children and young people to seek and receive support. The qualities required of staff include:

  • being approachable
  • confident to listen and respond
  • communicates well
  • prepared to be accountable for responding to children and young people.

Children, young people and parents must know when they will be able to contact school staff and at what times during the school day there will be time for contact with them that allows relationships to develop.

Building relationships

Forthview Primary School in the City of Edinburgh has developed several approaches that help parents, pupils and staff be part of a supportive environment. There is a Feelings Book for anyone in the school community to share their feelings. A quiet room has been created with subdued lighting and cushions where children can spend time to reflect or share their thoughts and where they can learn relaxation techniques. A monthly quiet assembly focuses on an emotional or spiritual theme to set the tone for class Circle Time. The school is training staff in emotional literacy and links this to emotionally literate approaches to changing children's behaviour.

St Machar Academy in Aberdeen has made a commitment to ensuring senior managers meet all parents of new entrants to S1 before their child starts at the school. The meeting helps to establish relationships and helps parents understand how the school works and what is expected of pupils. The school makes flexible arrangements when necessary to ensure that parents can attend.

Children will choose for themselves the adults in whom they trust, and which adults they will approach for different kinds of help. All staff should therefore feel empowered to listen and to respond, and must be aware of the importance of confidentiality and the limits that must at times be placed on this. Where children and young people are judged to be at risk of harm, or present a risk to others, then all staff should be aware of the procedures to follow in keeping with the school's child protection policy. However, there are many issues in which a child may expect their discussions with professionals to remain in confidence. All staff should be clear about the school's confidentiality policy, which should be communicated to children, young people and parents.

Listening with respect

Kirkhill Primary School in Aberdeen has provided Bubble Time for pupils alongside Circle Time and Golden Time. Every pupil in the school has a peg with their name on it. The pupil can attach the peg to a 'bubble' (a green plastic disc) in their classroom to indicate that they want to spend a little time telling the teacher something personal. The teacher finds time, with the support of the Head and Depute, to hear the pupil's news - whatever it is they want to share, something positive or a concern. Pupils can also write their name on a bubble on the door of the headteacher's or depute's rooms if these are the staff that the pupil wants to share something with. All staff have received annual training in Jenny Mosley's approaches (founder of Circle Time and Bubble Time) and first level counselling training; the headteacher and depute have also trained in solution focused brief therapy.

"You get to talk to the teacher in private without anyone else knowing what you are saying." (P6 pupil)

"It's good to have your own time and no-one else interrupting." (P7 pupil)

"Sometimes it helps your problem and you don't get in trouble." (P7 pupil)

East Renfrewshire Education Service has developed a partnership with Renfrewshire Association of Mental Health in its development of Integrated Community Schools, to provide a school-based youth counselling service. The service has been used by boys, girls and families and works in close partnership with schools' multi-agency referral process as well as being accessible by self-referral. The schools and the counsellors have worked closely on developing protocols and mutual understanding on ethical practice and confidentiality.

When dealing with personal issues, schools should be aware that children and young people do not want to be passed or referred from one adult to another without their control or consent. It may be necessary for schools to enable the first-line member of staff that a pupil has approached to continue in a 'key worker' support role until the pupil feels confident to use other support or has resolved his/her difficulty.


"I have always been a quiet person so I think when I first started to get really down not many teachers noticed really. My family had had a really miserable New Year with my dad getting arrested for something and because he had done something before they kept him inside on remand. I was glad to get back to school because my mum was climbing the walls with worry and there was nothing I could do to help except keep my little brother out of the way. I avoided my mates so I wouldn't have to tell them, but going back to school made that a bit awkward. I did consider dogging it. Mr Beeton [Paul's art teacher] noticed I was hanging around the corridors instead of going out and asked me what was up. I told him 'nothing' but he said his door was always open if I wanted to help sort some art materials out. Well, the weather was miserable anyway so it wouldn't look as though I was being a sook.

"I went into the art room a few times when I was in that part of the school. Mr Beeton never questioned me or anything, he just gave me things to sort and talked about football and that. He asked if I watched the football with my dad which gave me a bit of a red face but he never pushed it. Then when it came to visiting my dad I wanted time off school to go with my mum and I didn't want anyone to know why, but not to get into bother for it either or else they would contact my mum and she would be up the wall again. So I told him I needed to take an afternoon off for an embarrassing reason and he just said 'I can help you with some things without telling the whole school' so I did tell him. He asked how things were at home and if we were all coping, which we are mostly. So I agreed he could tell the guidance staff so that the time off wouldn't be a problem but I didn't want to talk to anyone else just then. Since then I just keep dropping in to see Mr Beeton if he's in his room and he asks 'how's it going' and that feels ok."

Alex Beeton provides the teacher's perspective:

"Paul's registration tutor had noticed that Paul, who is usually quiet, was actually seeming to be rather withdrawn. The registration tutor had shared this with all of Paul's subject teachers to get some feedback and identify if there might be a problem. When I later saw Paul hanging around in the corridors I let him know that I was available in the best way I could, without embarrassing the lad or putting him on the spot. I let his registration tutor and PT Personal Support know what I had done. It seemed from Paul's personal file that the family had been under stress in the past when his father was in prison. As the mother had not contacted the school, we decided to see if Paul himself would talk to us as we could not be sure this was connected in any way to his mood. Also, he is a fairly bright and sensible pupil and we did not want to make him feel as though we thought he couldn't cope.

"When Paul finally opened up, he agreed that I would share this information with the registration tutor and the designated PT Personal Support, but as Paul had made the initial information available to me and had not wanted others to know, it was agreed with colleagues that I would be the one to keep an open door to him. The PT let me have some leaflets on local support services we thought he or his family might want to use, so that I could pass them on if he seemed to feel worse or if we talked about the matter further. The PT Personal Support did the necessary communication so that Paul's absences were not made more awkward by his subject teachers."

Staff who get to know children well through classroom work, extra-curricular activities, registration periods or through closer support will often be able to observe progress in learning and development and see changes in attitude and approach in the child or young person which can signal the need for early intervention.

The Role of Specialist Staff and Principal Teachers

Specialist or designated staff, Principal Teachers (or designated senior staff and managers in primary and special schools) play an important developmental and co-ordinating role. They should:

  • ensure there is one key member of staff who will be responsible for ensuring a positive outcome has been achieved for the child or young person, when a need has been identified
  • be able to support, encourage and motivate teaching, non-teaching and ancillary staff to foster relationships with children, by providing staff with advice, information, training and encouragement
  • be able to support children, young people and their families to resolve complex problems. This requires the development of a close and trusting relationship with the child and family and a sound knowledge of the potential role of other specialists and agencies
  • deliver, and support others to deliver a coherent and high quality programme of education for personal and social development, with appropriate progression
  • co-ordinate and integrate services to provide seamless support for the child or young person, including in-school integration of pupil support, learning support and behaviour support, and other in-school agency provision (such as health or social work), as well as services outwith school
  • collate information to monitor support to children and track their progress, ensuring this is shared with children, young people and parents appropriately and used by staff to inform their further planning with children
  • fulfil these roles for all children and young people, and for children and young people with additional support needs, act as a contact and co-ordinator for Co-ordinated Support Plans for individual children and young people.

Emerging Practice - Leading Teams that Support Children and Young People

Emerging practice in Scottish schools shows that Principal Teachers and specialist staff lead effective teams which are clear about the roles of individuals and of the strengths and experience of their team colleagues. They also share a vision of what they wish to achieve and hold common values focusing on positive outcomes for children. The attributes of effective teams includes:

  • promoting a whole-school approach by involving all staff
  • adding value and strategic capacity with the sum of their skills and efforts
  • sharing vision, having clear roles and remits
  • working with partners and other professionals effectively.

Routes to Support

Forfar Academy in Angus trained 30 teaching staff to become personal mentors for S1 and S2 pupils who were felt to need additional support. The teacher mentors spent time with a pupil working in a 'solution focused' way to help them resolve behaviour or motivation problems. The approach enhanced the provision of Personal Support by specialist staff and gave the pupils a more positive view of staff. The teachers themselves have learned more about the family circumstances and personal experiences that have helped create barriers to learning for the pupils.

Trinity High School in Renfrewshire involved senior pupils in developing the school ethos of caring and support. The senior management team followed up an initial voluntary interest by senior pupils by investing time in training of senior pupils as buddies, through a residential course. Senior managers have continued to support senior pupils to run a drop-in and buddy system for more vulnerable S1 pupils. The work has helped build positive relationships between staff and senior pupils, as well as with S1 pupils.

"I feel, after completion of the training, my confidence and team work skills have significantly improved. The 'Buddies Club', in my opinion, has also encouraged and succeeded in making the current 6th year become a much closer year group." (Victoria, S6 Buddy)

"Since the 'Buddies' started I feel as though my confidence has grown. I feel I am interacting more with the younger kids and I feel like I have to act as a role model to them." (Lindsey, S6 Buddy)

"You can make friends and even if you don't it stops you walking about by yourself and being ridiculed." (S2 Buddy)

"It keeps you from getting cold and you can have a laugh with your new mates." (S1 Buddy)

Good communication is essential for information to be shared on the progress of pupils and to allow a whole picture to develop of their motivation, personal development and support needs. Positively, observation of progress is also an opportunity to recognise and reward different kinds of children's and young people's success, personally, socially and academically.

Monitoring pupils

Turnbull High School in East Dunbartonshire developed a system of monitoring pupil progress called 'Aiming High'. Each term pupils set targets for their performance in 7 areas of positive behaviour and two action plans for specific areas for each pupil to maintain progress. Staff and pupils score their progress each term and set new targets for the following term. The achievements are collated at individual, class, house and year group levels to provide pupils, parents and staff with an overview of progress. The achievements are linked to the school's reward scheme for positive behaviour. It also allows staff to monitor attendance and timekeeping as well as behaviour.

In a parent survey 90% of parents appreciated the monitoring reports which they felt provided a useful source of information to help them encourage their children and to keep themselves in touch with the school.

Bothwellpark High School in North Lanarkshire uses visual charts to help pupils with severe and complex disabilities reflect on their daily progress in achieving tasks. This takes place within a framework of SMART target setting used by staff to record progress in each curricular area. The SMART system breaks long term curriculum targets into four short-term goals and then into small steps for weekly monitoring. The collation of achievement enables the school to review progress with pupils' parents and with the other agencies involved in their individual reviews.

"Staff showed a deep understanding - not only of my daughter's schooling progression but also her character, and how to get around her little foibles!" (Parent response to evaluation of parents evening).

Effective recording and monitoring of day-to-day Personal Support activities helps to ensure that issues are noted, action is taken and there is follow-through until support is no longer required. Pro-active and preventive systems are based on a realistic assessment of need and effectiveness, which is gleaned from good recording and monitoring.

Effective team working also involves clear understanding of responsibility and accountability. While a wide range of staff (or any individual member of staff preferred by the child or young person) may be involved in supporting a child or young person, it is essential that there is an identified key person who will ensure that a positive outcome has been achieved for the child or young person, when a need has been identified. It is essential that systems are in place to ensure that every child or young person is 'in view' of the school to enable identification of need, and that teams supporting children and young people promote this approach.

Integrated support within schools requires leadership and willingness for co-operation and collaboration. Effective integration is more than simply sharing information about a child or young person between different kinds of support staff and other teachers. It requires shared understanding of the whole child or young person and his or her needs, agreement on priorities and approaches, and a commitment to regular review of progress. Parents are important partners in reaching understanding and identifying priorities.

Helen Kinally

"My son Daniel enjoyed nursery school but never really settled down to primary school. His teachers always described him as energetic but I think they were really telling me he was too fidgety. As time went on he started to really dislike primary school and when he was in P3 he actually became such a handful to get out of the house and along to school in the morning he was making his older sister late as well. I realised I had to do something and managed to get to the school at the end of the day one time to mention the trouble we were having to his class teacher, just to see if there was anything she could tell me about what the problem was. "We ended up having a really long chat about how Daniel had been in nursery, what he was like at home and what things he liked playing with. She asked about his friends and what things I thought he was good at. I hadn't really expected the conversation to go that way but the more we talked, the more I realised that some of Daniel's likes and dislikes at home might shed light on how he is at school. His reading is not really getting anywhere but his drawing and the things he manages to build with construction toys is really good. Mrs Callan [Daniel's class teacher] asked me if she could discuss these things with the depute head in the school.

"After a week the depute head called me at home and asked me to come in to the school. They were suggesting that Daniel should be assessed to see if he has a dyslexic-type difficulty. Miss Dunbar [the depute head] showed me how they were going to give Daniel some extra help in the class in the meantime and gave me some information about the psychology service that would be assessing Daniel. I had loads of questions about this. I didn't want him to be labelled and I was worried about what it would mean for his future if he did have some kind of problem. I didn't want the other children laughing at him because I think one of the reasons he had started disliking school was because he knew he wasn't keeping up with the others. Miss Dunbar listened and answered questions and asked me to keep coming back as often as I needed, either to her or to Mrs Callan. I met the learning assistant in the class so that I would know who was involved with Daniel.

"They asked if I would keep them in touch with how Daniel is feeling about things so that they can keep changing their approach to suit him. He is a bit happier in school now."

Jane Dunbar gives the school's perspective:

"We are a fairly large primary school so we do have a depute head and an allocation of support staffing that we can use flexibly. So, once we had identified a problem it was not too difficult to develop an individual action plan for Daniel. But we have another four years of close relationship with this family to plan for, to make sure we are all pulling together to give Daniel every chance of success, so for us, establishing a good relationship with Mrs Kinally is essential.

"I was pleased that Lorna Callan was able to welcome the parent when she dropped in casually. The time she took to explore Mrs Kinally's views about her son's approach to learning was the single most important step that was taken in this case. It provided the parent with the encouragement to keep talking to us and to keep working with us. It's a challenge in schools to make sure that listening to parents in this way doesn't just happen by accident. We have a school policy of partnership with parents, with regular open days and a welcoming reception area, but still many parents are busy and staff have to feel confident to take any opportunity there is to build a relationship."

The Role of Senior Managers and Headteachers

Senior managers in schools must develop the vision of the school as a caring community, and provide leadership to staff ensuring all fulfil their role. They should:

  • communicate and model respect and a sense of equality, creating a climate of co-operation and collaboration amongst staff, as a necessary pre-requisite for promoting this amongst children and young people
  • plan to improve support to children and young people and evaluate progress against clear objectives, integrating these with developments in their implementation and development of Integrated Community Schools and Health Promoting Schools where appropriate
  • ensure that the school follows a framework of appropriate stages of intervention, in conjunction with multi-agency and authority-level structures
  • drive the development of partnerships to maximise support to the school and to pupils, ensuring effective collaboration in Co-ordinated Support Planning and integration of support for the whole school
  • ensure that staff development leads to enhanced support to children and young people, and that there are opportunities for reflection and challenge for staff
  • be responsible for excellence in supporting pupils.

Emerging Practice - Effective Management to Support Children and Young People

Emerging practice in Scotland shows there are different approaches to management in order to enable support to pupils. Key features of effective management include:

  • active involvement in schools' design of Personal Support and monitoring of implementation
  • leading development and practical co-ordination of roles and resources
  • open processes of planning, monitoring, and reviewing progress
  • taking a regular overview of staffing and staff development.

Positive and dynamic caring school communities are based on trust, shared values and time and space to share ideas and thinking, as well as reflection on day-to-day support activity.

Frank Lennon of St Modan's High School believes that core values must bind all school staff and staff from other agencies to achieve inclusion: "We need leadership development that not only takes account of its importance at all levels in the school from classroom teacher and support staff to the SMT, but also takes account of schools, not as organisations devoted to the most efficient 'delivery' of services to individuals; but as essentially communities of values each with a collective sense of its purpose and destiny."

The approach to team working in schools must be developed according to local circumstances. A team may operate on a cluster basis or with a single school focus, or through local learning partnerships. The purpose of the team model is to enhance the strategic capacity of the school to deliver Personal Support and make best use of the contribution of all staff. However it is structured, it is essential that the team is managed and led, has a vision and clear roles and remits for all those comprising the team, which is clearly communicated to other staff.

Lorna Spence of Deerpark Primary School described the importance of team working in developing the role of a Home School Link Worker within her school team: "Undoubtedly, the professional and interpersonal skills of our HSLO have been crucial for the success of our approach; but her role has to be supported, validated and nurtured by the beliefs, values and ethos of the school. We needed a clear understanding that in our school team, roles are complimentary not competing and everyone is playing their part - its our job not her job. We needed ingenuity and creativity because we accept that, when working with families, there is no 'one size fits all' solution, but we believe that school exerts a powerful influence - we make a difference!"

The extent to which other agencies are regarded as a reliable resource and are members of a school 'team' depends on the establishment of relationships and agreements at school and authority level, and shared understanding of the purposes and objectives of Personal Support. Experience shows that different professional backgrounds and approaches can be brought together to support children and young people effectively where there is shared discussion and training, and the opportunity to build relationships and understanding over time.

The Role of Authorities

Authorities must add value to school level development by providing appropriate support and challenge. They should:

  • ensure staff understand the allocation of support to schools and how schools can access central specialist staff
  • draw together strands of integration, through Integrated Community Schools and integrated children's services planning
  • engage fully in Community Planning and ensure its potential to strengthen partnership working
  • engage effectively with key agencies involved in identifying and responding to the needs of children and young people who are vulnerable or in trouble, such as Child Protection Committees, the Reporter to the Children's Panel and the Social Work Department.

Authorities play a key role in developing and enabling staff. They should:

  • provide opportunities to learn and progress for staff new to education and experienced staff
  • provide development opportunities for a range of staff, including support staff
  • ensure coherence with other training programmes relevant to supporting pupils, all delivered within a policy framework and informed by an authority vision
  • expose staff to a range of practices and practitioners through approaches such as mentoring, work shadowing and multi-agency training and networking.

Emerging Practice - Authorities Supporting Schools

Many authorities use specialist staff in a developmental and enabling capacity, and to plan and co-ordinate staff training and resource development. They support schools to plan and develop inclusion, and play a strategic role in promoting authority-wide good practice.

Developing and enabling

Glasgow supports schools to develop their Personal Support with an authority Advisor of Pastoral Care. The advisor played a key role in developing the authority's strategy for supporting pupils with a 'Standard for Pastoral Care', setting out Glasgow's vision, aims and objectives for pastoral care. The advisor provides training for staff to ensure effective delivery of the standard, including support staff, unpromoted and promoted staff and senior managers. She leads the compulsory training in pastoral care that all probationers receive. The advisor also has a quality assurance role to support and validate schools' self evaluation of their pastoral care. The advisor also compiles information for school use that supports networking between schools and support services and also facilitates networking meetings.

Educational Psychologists in Fife have developed an approach to supporting the authority's management and developmental work, as well as case work. Their strategic approach involves them in acting as a 'critical friend' to schools within the authority quality assurance process but crucially involves them in providing consultancy support to schools in their planning to support pupils. Educational Psychologists have advised on new approaches on developing new resources such as 'Cool in School' (curriculum for personal and social development) and restorative practices. They also maintain their role in planning to meet individual pupils' needs through joint liaison groups, but are now able to use this intelligence for the benefit of strategic planning within the authority.

Resources available to education authorities include teachers and additional staff such as classroom assistants, learning support assistants, home-school link workers and auxiliaries. Planning for deployment of staff should have regard to maximising the long term benefit of such staff to schools by ensuring their training and development equips them for their schools' efforts to support children and young people. Some authorities deploy youth work, arts and culture and other staff on a cluster basis, to enhance the range of support and skills available to schools and their children and young people.

South Lanarkshire Council has involved youth work staff in its Active Breaks programme. During breaktimes the youth work staff work alongside the school staff in providing interest groups (sports, arts and IT skills, etc.) and support for more vulnerable pupils through individual or group work.

The effective development of Personal Support in schools, and the development of Integrated Community Schools, requires agreement at all levels that time and resources of health, social work, youth work and other staff (including voluntary sector staff) come together collaboratively in the best interests of children and young people. Not all services or interventions need to focus on the school, but for all services to work preventively and to focus on early intervention, school-based collaboration must take place, informed by a shared vision. It is essential that agreement is established at authority level on commitments and forms of support by other departments and agencies. This may be best achieved through the children's services planning process, or the community planning process.

Multi-agency support

West Dunbartonshire Council has developed multi-agency working around school clusters in its Pupil and Family Support Service. This support service works in partnership with teaching staff in the secondary and primary schools, pupils and families, to design and implement strategies to address specific difficulties affecting families and school attendance, inclusion and attainment. All staff in the support service are trained jointly with schools, social work services and other partners, and through this have some vocational accreditation routes open to them. A member of the senior management team of the secondary school in the cluster manages and co-ordinates the service. West Dunbartonshire plans to extend the service to include early years services in the cluster to develop a seamless approach through all transitions.

While many school leaders will adapt and develop their own approaches, model policies prepared by authorities helps to establish a standard and expectation of support for children, young people and parents. Education authorities' quality assurance is key to ensuring consistency to assist enhancing the experience of children and young people making a transition between establishments.

All training within the school and authority should embed the learning of knowledge and skills required for supporting pupils within a framework of values, underpinned by understanding of policies and practice guidelines. Training which brings practitioners together from different disciplines or agencies builds stronger partnership working as well as enabling the sharing of practice and perspectives between professionals. This can be delivered on a 'whole school' or learning partnership basis, or at authority level.

Progression and accreditation in training provided to develop skills in supporting pupils is important for teachers and other key partners (e.g. school nurses, home-school link workers), helping to raise the profile and credibility of this area of work.