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These Are Our Bairns: A guide for community planning partnerships on being a good corporate parent

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APPENDIX 1: POLICY CONTEXT

The Purpose of Government

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. This is set out in the Scottish Government's Economic Strategy [ www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/202993/0054092.pdf ] As well as making a real difference to the lives of individual young people, improving outcomes for Looked After children through effective early intervention and prevention will help to make Scotland wealthier and fairer; smarter; healthier; safer and stronger and greener. In order to build a dynamic and growing economy that will provide prosperity and opportunities for all, while ensuring that future generations can enjoy a better quality of life, we must make sure that every one of our young people has the best possible start in life.

The characteristics of Scotland in the future - solidarity, cohesion and sustainability - are mirrored by what we need to achieve as strong corporate parents. Scottish Government is working across public services to deliver five strategic priorities:

  • Learning, Skills and Well-being
  • Supportive Business Environment
  • Infrastructure Development and Place
  • Effective Government
  • Equity.

Government in Scotland is creating a new environment which will:

  • generate greater and more widely shared employment;
  • create more highly skilled and better-paid jobs;
  • provide better quality goods and services and additional choices and opportunities for Scotland's people;
  • stimulate higher government revenues, supporting better quality public services;
  • foster a self-sustaining and ambitious climate of entrepreneurial advance;
  • encourage economic activity and investment across Scotland, thereby sharing the benefits of growth;
  • bring a culture of confidence and personal empowerment to Scotland; and
  • secure a high quality environment today and a sustainable legacy for future generations.

In November 2007, the Scottish Government set out its spending priorities, together with a Concordat with local government and a national performance framework containing 15 strategic outcomes, with 45 indicators by which collectively we will be judged. ( www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/11/13092240/concordat ).

This approach represents a significant change in the relationship that central government has with other public services, particularly local government, and provides an opportunity to make real improvements in how services work together locally to improve outcomes for children.

The underpinning principle of our approach is inclusion. All of our citizens must be able to participate in this new successful Scotland, including those who have experience of the care system. Achieving better outcomes for Looked After children and young people will be different to achieving them for other young people. Whilst it is important to make sure that they get the best opportunities in each aspect of their lives, a holistic approach is important. It will require a variety of resources and will involve many different agencies and individuals. Where a range of different people are working with, and responsible for, Looked After children and care leavers they may each concentrate on specific aspects of their lives, e.g. education, health, leisure, etc. without seeing the whole child.

We are committed to delivering a series of major change programmes for children's services - Getting It Right For Every Child, Curriculum for Excellence and More Choices, More Chances.These programmes all sit within the context of the Early Years and Early Intervention Framework which promotes a culture of early intervention and prevention.

Government in Scotland's commitment to Early Years and Early Intervention [ www.scotland/Resource/Doc/215889/0057733.pdf ] recognises that giving all children the best start in life and improving the life chances of all children, young people and families at risk will make a major contribution to delivering solidarity and cohesion to Scottish society. The early years are a period of rapid development and have a major influence on the rest of a person's life. The early years provide the first and best opportunity to set children off on the right trajectory and reduce the need for later interventions that are more costly in both financial and social terms.

Getting It Right For Every Child provides the vehicle for achieving this holistic, child-centred approach. The role of the lead professional in facilitating this approach to service delivery will be crucial. Getting It Right For Every Child is a long-term change programme across services to all children whose central aim is to make sure that children are at the centre of thinking and action. It aims to improve children and families' experience by simplifying systems, working together better, providing a better quality of help or intervention, thereby improving outcomes for children and young people. The principle behind it is that universal services should be able to meet most of the needs of most children through high quality support for children, families and communities, but recognising that there are some children who will need input from specialist services on a short-term or long-term basis. For children who need multi-agency support, that support should be child-centred, joined up and accessible. One lead professional will be identified who will be the child and their family's guide through the system, ensuring that they receive appropriate, proportionate and timely support. Getting It Right For Every Child will also join up with adult services working with parents to make sure that the child's needs are not lost in transition.

Information-sharing is central to the success of this work, and systems and protocols are being developed to promote confidence in professionals. This work should underpin the child's plan, and should encompass all the adults in the child's world who can contribute to addressing all the child's needs to help them fulfill their potential.[ www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/People/Young-People/childrensservices/girfec ]

Within the frameworks of Getting It Right For Every Child and Early Years and Early Intervention, Curriculum for Excellence and Skills for Scotland provide the foundations for all children to achieve successful life outcomes.

Curriculum for Excellence is about providing the best possible learning opportunities for all children and young people to help them become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors, and make sure that they have the skills for learning, skills for work and skills for life [ www.Itscotland.org.uk/curriculumforexcellence ].

Curriculum for Excellence will offer better educational outcomes for all young people and will provide more choices and more chances for those young people who need them. This means:

  • a coherent curriculum for all from 3 to 18 wherever learning takes place;
  • a focus on outcomes;
  • a broad, general education up to about age 15;
  • a focus on literacy and numeracy at every stage;
  • time to take qualifications in is best suited to the young person;
  • more opportunities for developing skills for life and skills for work for all young people at every stage;
  • appropriate pace and challenge for every child; and
  • ensuring connections between all aspects of learning and support for learning.

Included, Engaged and Involved recognises that in order for all children and young people to be able to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors, they must be included, engaged and involved throughout their time at school. Attendance at school is fundamental to achieving this aim and for some Looked After children and young people this can be particularly challenging. Guidance on promoting attendance and managing absence which includes specific reference to the needs of vulnerable children and young people, including those who are Looked After. ( http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2007/12/05100056/0).

The Scottish Government is currently developing complementary guidance on exclusion from school which will focus on the prevention and management of exclusion with a focus on vulnerable children and young people, including the impact of exclusion to Looked After children and young people. Until the guidance is finalised Circular 8/03 Exclusion from School remains current and is available from http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2003/11/18496/28823 .

The Skills for Scotland Strategy places the individual at the centre of learning and development and aims to keep young people in education post-16, and to put in place effective processes for identifying early those young people least likely to secure and sustain training and employment. It also includes a commitment to encouraging partnership working and encourages schools to see themselves as part of a wider lifelong learning system.

MORE CHOICES, MORE CHANCES

More Choices, More Chances aims to provide additional support to young people who are not in education, employment or training to be able to move into learning or employment by:

  • ensuring that Curriculum for Excellence provides opportunities to young people under 16 that are tailored to individual need, with flexibility and appropriate support for every young person;
  • ensuring that every young person has a clear pathway from school into learning post-16; with supported transitions and sustained opportunities;
  • ensuring that learning is a financially viable option, by considering the financial support and incentives available to young people;
  • ensuring that the right support is available to young people to find out about, engage with and sustain learning and employment; and
  • making a joint commitment to action between central and local government, employers, learning providers and support agencies to develop the service infrastructure required to meet the needs of vulnerable young people.

All of these actions are about ensuring that young people are able to access the universal services from which they should benefit, aligning mainstream systems to cater for all young people including those who need additional support.