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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


Scotland's Vision for All Children

Children's and Young People's Potential - personality, talents and abilities

Every child and young person in Scotland is in the first stages of a journey through life in which they will face choices about how to live and what to strive for. For all children and young people, there are choices and experiences which may be challenging for the first time, when a friendly supportive adult helps to make sense of the situation and turns that situation into a learning opportunity from which greater maturity arises.

Some children and young people will be faced with choices and experiences that are much more troubling. In these circumstances, adult support can make a real difference to the quality of life and the realisation of potential for the child. Support in schools must meet the needs of all children and young people, whatever the choices and experiences they face.

Experience shows that those children equipped with a sense of their own worth and achievements, and who have confidence in their own ability to make choices, are resilient in the face of many challenges. Schools must play their part in preparing children and young people by promoting their understanding, values and capabilities. Programmes of learning must enable children and young people to develop and practice their skills to prepare for the predictable challenges we all face when growing up, and the unpredictable difficulties that can arise.

chart headings

childhood and adolescence involves


some children face significant challenges


Teachers make a difference to the lives of children

Teachers who take the time to really get to know children and young people and respond to them sensitively as individuals make an enormous impact, helping them to thrive and develop as rounded individuals aware of their talents and abilities. In difficult circumstances, teachers may make the difference in helping children and young people to cope and develop resilience.

The quality of relationships between children and young people and all school staff is in turn helped by a school community where values and positive attitudes and relationships are clearly visible. Caring, co-operation and collaboration are daily activities modelled by all staff, creating a school ethos of security, acceptance and recognition of achievement. In an atmosphere where support is the norm, challenges are prevented from becoming entrenched problems. There is persistent, deliberate effort to work with children and young people to help them resolve any challenges they may experience, and to reach beyond the school to involve parents and other agencies in support of children and young people.

The majority of children and young people in Scotland participate in school life and make the most of the opportunities provided. Some children and young people are also actively involved in learning and personal development opportunities in their communities. Their journey from childhood to adulthood may be relatively smooth or they may have the personal resilience to resolve or accommodate adverse events and circumstances. However, some children and young people are less resilient or experience problems too complex or overwhelming for them. In effective schools, education and welfare are complementary processes. Only when children and young people are safe and happy in school will they become successful learners, with enthusiasm and motivation for learning, a determination to reach high standards of achievement and an openness to new thinking and ideas. When children are enabled and encouraged to participate responsibly in their school community, they will be better prepared to become responsible citizens with respect for others and a commitment to participate in political, economic, social and cultural life. In schools where children and young people experience a high level of Personal Support and are encouraged to be effective contributors with enterprising attitudes, resilience and self-reliance, they will become confident individuals with self respect, a sense of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, secure beliefs and values with ambition for the future.

The provision of Personal Support has developed over more than 30 years in Scottish schools. During this period, significant changes have taken place in education legislation and policy. The Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000 ensures that education 'is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential'.

However, in today's society, more children and young people are members of families disrupted by family separation. Poverty continues to be a stubborn feature of many communities. Some trends present new challenges, such as increasing numbers of children and young people in families affected by drug misuse, and increasing mobility of families. The commencement of the Additional Support for Learning Act in 2005 will introduce new duties on education authorities to identify and plan to meet children's and young people's additional support needs. The role of Personal Support in school is to meet the care and welfare needs of all children and young people so that they achieve their fullest potential.

The difference teachers make - quotes

Supporting children and young people in the 21st century - a vision for caring school communities

  • Children and Young People. Children and young people build positive relationships by spending time with teachers and school staff, and by trusting that they can have confidential access to a member of staff when they need it. They must then be able to rely on prompt and appropriate information and support to get the help they need, when they need it, effectively.
  • Parents and Carers. Schools and parents are partners working in children's and young people's best interests. Schools must reach out to create partnerships with all parents.
  • School Partnerships. Inclusive schools provide comprehensive, integrated approaches, harnessing multi-agency support to meet the care and welfare needs of children, young people and families. Effective schools ensure that staff are approachable and monitor action to meet children's and young people's needs.
  • Community Partnerships. Partners in the community provide complementary activities to enable children to develop their personalities, skills and talents as they grow up, through other learning, social and leisure opportunities.