Collaborating to help close the attainment gap

Stronger connections between schools and youth work organisations

A pilot scheme to help schools and youth work organisations work together to close the attainment gap in education has been launched today.

The new Youth Work and Schools Partnership programme will offer young people the opportunity to develop relationships with trusted adults and provide learning opportunities outwith the home and school environment.

It is part of a collective effort the Scottish Government is taking to close the attainment gap as part of the wider £750 million Scottish Attainment Challenge. The programme will be delivered by YouthLink Scotland, with up to £324,000 Scottish Government funding over three years.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney launched the new programme during a visit to Bellshill Academy in North Lanarkshire today. He said:

“Every child must be able to fulfil their full potential and our work on closing the attainment gap does not end at the school gates. Youth work is an incredibly valuable influence on the life chances for many young people, particularly those affected by poverty and inequality or who are disengaged with education.

“Teachers are already doing what they can to close the attainment gap, but an adult who is not a teacher can sometimes provide a different and welcome perspective for young people. This programme will help deliver our vision for excellence and equity for all by allowing more young people to experience the benefits of youth work and the opportunities it can bring.”

Tim Frew, Chief Executive of YouthLink Scotland, said:

“The youth work sector plays a key role in encouraging and supporting all young people to realise their ambitions and aspirations through learning. Youth workers working alongside formal education colleagues in our schools and colleges contribute to lifelong and life-rich learning opportunities for young people - often enabling them to overcome barriers. This work takes place after school, in the evenings, weekends and school holidays as well as during the school day.

“This funding acknowledges youth workers as effective partners in closing the poverty-related attainment gap for our children and young people. I am delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting us to build the capacity of youth work and schools partnerships and understand the impact of this work.”


The Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched by the First Minister in 2015 with the aim of ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The Scottish Government has funded Youthlink Scotland with up to £324,000 over three years from 2018/19 to 2020/21 to deliver the Youth Work and Schools Partnership Programme.

Additional quotes:

Quote from a young person attending youth work service Bellshill and Mossend YMCA:

“The YMCA has helped me with loads, I'm no longer angry or throwing chairs at people! I've started doing more active things, and go outside more too. I like that I can talk to my befriender, or other staff, and they don't judge me. They show me alternatives and make me think.”

Bellshill Academy Head Teacher Jodie McGraw said:

“In Bellshill Academy, we believe that school is for everyone and youth work plays a pivotal role in ensuring this. The young people and community benefit from our strong partnership working which is a key to our success.”


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