Improving attainment for looked after children

£33 million available to target support and improve educational outcomes.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney today saw how care experienced young people's lives are being improved through mentoring.

Mr Swinney was at the successful MCR Pathways project to see how Glasgow City Council have been using their Attainment Scotland Funding to improve outcomes for young people with experience of the care system.

The programme involves young people and mentors being matched based on shared interests. Mentors are fully trained and supported to build strong relationships with their young person and offer guidance with job and career options as well as overall life goals. The 2018 MCR Pathways impact report highlighted a variety of positive results including:

  • The number of mentored care-experienced young people returning to school after 4th year increased from 66% to 79%
  • The number of mentored care-experienced young people going on to college, university or a job increased from 52% in 2014 to 86% in 2017
  • An increase of 20% percentage points in mentored care-experienced young people attaining literacy and numeracy at level 4 or above.

Almost £33 million has been made available over the next three years to local authorities through the Scottish Attainment Challenge to help close the attainment gap for care experienced young people from birth up to the age of 26.

Mr Swinney said: "Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people is the defining mission of this government.

"We know that there are still many challenges facing young people in care and that they are not always able to access the same opportunities as their peers. That is why we are providing almost £33 million of Attainment Funding over the lifetime of this Parliament to specifically target support for care experienced children and young people.

"It was inspiring to see the MCR Pathways project in action today and meet the young people and mentors who are both gaining so much from taking part, their early results have been truly life-changing.

"I look forward to seeing how other schools and local authorities choose to use their additional funding to close the attainment gap and improve the life chances of care experienced children and young people in their area."

MCR Pathways founder Iain MacRitchie said: "We were delighted to welcome the Deputy First Minister to allow him to meet the young people, like William and Kieran, who have enjoyed transformational benefits and positive outcomes thanks to MCR Pathways. 

"It's a true collaboration with the Attainment Scotland funding, an inspired partner in Glasgow City Council and our army of coordinators, staff and volunteer mentors, but most of all the young people themselves, together generating such amazing results.

"We are committed to rolling out across Scotland in the years ahead to help ensure many, many more young people can be defined by their potential, not their circumstances."

Annemarie O'Donnell, Glasgow City Council's Chief Executive said: "All our young people deserve the very best we can offer, regardless of their personal circumstances or background. Mentoring is making an incredible difference to the lives of some of our most disadvantaged young people by helping to close the attainment gap and addressing social challenges.

"The council's pioneering partnership with MCR Pathways is a long term commitment for us, with an ambitious target set to engage up to 10% of our employees as mentors, across all of our secondary schools. Our staff have a wide range of skills and experiences that can be used to support and encourage a young person and as we realise our vision our mentors are seeing benefits as well as the obvious gains to the young person."

William McMillan said: "The MCR Pathways programme has stripped away those obstacles which have held me back whilst amplifying the best parts of me, has unlocked an ignored potential which is the common thread that ties together all those who have been a part of the programme, and has provided me with someone who accepts and supports me no matter the circumstances."

Kieran said: "For me, I went from being homeless and having no confidence to feeling like nothing fazes me and like I could take on anything. I feel much happier and stronger.

"Before I had a mentor, I felt no matter what I did or how hard I tried I wouldn't get where I wanted to be. I felt alone. My mentor helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses. Being part of the MCR Pathways programme has been an amazing thing. I don't feel alone anymore. No matter what I go through someone's there for me.

"I want to help other young people to find their talent. I want to be their listening ear, their champion. To help them find their voice."


William McMillan, 19, is currently in his 2nd year of a politics degree at University of West of Scotland (UWS) and has been with the MCR programme since his 2nd year at Lochend High School. He struggled at school due to dyslexia and was looked after by grandparents in Glasgow's east end. With support from his mentor, he has blossomed into a confident, focused, open young man fulfilling his potential.

17-year-old mentee Kieran, a former YST Ambassador now attending Glasgow Clyde College studying Media Studies has faced multiple issues outwith his control which made school a challenge and is the primary carer for his older brother. He is an exceptionally resilient young man who continues to be supported by MCR Pathways through its Next Steps Programme.

The £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund, committed over the lifetime of this parliament, is supporting hundreds of schools and local authorities to develop approaches that work best for their young people, to raise attainment and help close the poverty-related gap. In 2018/19, the funding included up to £50 million to target support to specific Scottish Attainment Challenge authorities and schools through the Challenge Authorities and Schools Programme. It also included £120 million of Pupil Equity Funding.

£32.7 million from the Attainment Scotland Fund will be made available nationally over the remainder of this Parliament to help improve the educational outcomes of care experienced children and young people. £8.2 million is being provided for the remainder of 2018/19 with £12.25 million provided in each subsequent year.

The MCR Pathways Impact Report is available here.


Media enquiries

Back to top