The publication of this document signifies the completion of the Scottish Government-funded programme of local authority pilot initiatives aimed at improving the educational attainment of looked after children and young people. In order to achieve the best outcomes for our looked after children and young people and care leavers we need to ensure that the right sorts of support, guidance and educational stimulation are available at the appropriate age and stage of their lives; from early years through to further and higher education. The pilot initiatives and the national research have helped to identify professional practice that can make a real difference to our looked after children and young people.
The pilot initiatives were varied in size, design and focus. However, they have been innovative and aspirational (and in some cases inspirational) in their desire to improve the educational attainment and achievement of the children and young people that they supported. The final report emanating from the national research highlighted a number of important findings. This guide offers practical suggestions in relation to addressing and taking forward the key research findings. The guide covers four main areas:
- raising the profile of looked after children and young people
- monitoring educational outcomes
- advice on setting up and running a project and
- focusing on achievement and aspiration
If we are genuinely committed to improving outcomes of our looked after children and young people and care leavers, it is essential that we all understand them better. We need to be aspirational and ambitious in our approach; an approach based on sound research and practice evidence which is under pinned by robust monitoring and management systems.
The programme of local authority pilot initiatives represents a significant achievement by everyone involved. From colleagues in the pilot local authorities and their partner agencies, the research team from the University of Strathclyde and Scottish Government officials to the children and young people and their families who have contributed so much to the overall success of the programme. Their commitment, support, co-operation and their willingness to work in partnership is greatly appreciated. It is a great example of what we can do better to improve the life outcomes of some of Scotland's most vulnerable children and young people.
The programme of pilot initiatives may have come to an end but the work to improve the outcomes of Scotland's looked after children and young people and care leavers has not. The Scottish Government is committed to improving outcomes for our looked after children and young people and care leavers and will continue to work in partnership with local authorities and other relevant stakeholders to achieve this goal. There is no room for complacency. This guide builds on and reinforces the good work which has been taking place across Scotland in recent years and sits comfortably alongside These Are Our Bairns, the We Can and Must Do Better Training Materials, the Core Tasks for Designated Managers and the other resources that we have available. The challenge to us all is to embed all of these consistently into policy, practice and service development and delivery across Scotland. Our looked after children and young people and care leavers deserve no less.
ADAM INGRAM MSP
Minister for Children and Early Years