Children and young people's voices matter: progress report - March 2021

Report on progress made on the actions agreed at the fourth annual meeting of Cabinet members and children and young people on 3 March 2020.

Food Security In Scotland

3 We want to ensure that all children have access to healthy and nutritious food at school.

In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on thousands of families, we have provided additional funding to local authorities to enable the continued provision of free school meals during school closures and school holidays.

The new school food and drink regulations will begin on 8 April 2021, strengthening current provision and further helping to make sure children and young people have access to balanced and nutritious food and drink at school.

The new regulations include action to realise the 2016 manifesto commitment, "School food regulations will be reviewed to make sure all primary school children have access to at least five of their '5 a Day' each day through school meals or healthy snacks such as fruit". Statutory guidance to support local authorities to implement the new regulations was published on 10 February 2021.

A school meals page is now available on the Parent Club website.

4 We will continue to work with partners on strategies to support young people to access nutritious meals, activities and other support outside of the school day and during the school holidays, building on and sharing good practice.

In 2019-20 we invested £2 million in tackling food insecurity during school holidays, following our 2019 Programme for Government commitment to speed up action in this area. The funding was focused on supporting third sector and local authority activities, including trying new ways of doing things, measuring the success of activities, and gathering learning to help policy and practice development in offering meals and activities during school holidays.

We have created a new Access to Childcare Fund, worth £3 million across 2020-22 to test new models of school age childcare that will be accessible, flexible and affordable for families on low incomes. The fund aims to support projects to deliver a range of activities, childcare, food and family support for children, including those from the six priority family types in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. Projects will look at these models, including holiday provision and specialist services for children with additional support needs, to understand how we can increase access for families most likely to be living in poverty.

During the pandemic over
£50 million has been available to local authorities to continue the delivery of free school meals over school closures and holidays up to Easter holidays 2021. Local authorities have been encouraged to take a "cash first" approach and the majority have been providing free school meal replacement in the form of direct payments, allowing families the dignity of being able to choose the food they need.

Through the Best Start Foods we are providing direct financial support to pregnant women and low income families with young children (under the age of three). Best Start Foods provides eligible families with a minimum of £4.25 a week, via a payment card, to purchase healthy foods.

The Scottish Child Payment started on 15 February. The impact of the payment is expected to be a "game changer", helping up to 163,000 eligible children in 2021-22 at a cost of £68 million. It will provide £40 every four weeks for each eligible child, with no limit on the number of children that can be claimed for.

Our Scottish Child Payment together with Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods will provide over £5,200 of financial support for families by the time their first child turns six. For second and further children this will provide over £4,900.

5 We will continue our work to ensure people have access to locally produced and nutritious food, recognising the importance of sustainable household incomes. This includes our commitment to working with Food Standards Scotland and Public Health Scotland to support a targeted approach to improve healthier eating for people with low incomes.

Since March 2020 the Scottish Government has invested over £140 million to support people struggling to access or afford food because of the pandemic. Where people are able to get to the shops we have promoted a cash first approach to food insecurity, focused on maximising household incomes and improving access to crisis payments such as through our £22 million additional funding for the Scottish Welfare Fund.

In our 2020 Programme for Government we recognised that joined-up partnership working in response to COVID-19 has brought together the strengths of different sectors at a local level, and we committed to work with the Social Renewal Advisory Board to consider how this can be developed further. The report of the Board was published in January 2021 and included recommendations to develop local food partnerships to support local food systems and lessen the need for food banks through improved access to income maximisation and wider support. Work is underway to consider these recommendations and what can be done in the short term and medium term to take them forward.

Income maximisation support means help looking at what money is available from government or other organisations to help you, based on your situation. It can also mean help looking at ways to save and manage money.

We provide core funding totalling £92,000 to four Community Food Networks (Lanarkshire Community Food & Health Partnership, Glasgow Community Food Network,Community Food Initiatives North East and Edinburgh Community Food). In response to greater demands for these networks' services during the pandemic, we asked for bids from them for proposals that take a targeted approach to improve healthier eating for people with low incomes, including by raising awareness, in culturally appropriate ways, of how they can eat more healthily. This additional funding comes to a total of £98,408.

Good Food Nation

Our work on food insecurity is part of our work towards Scotland becoming a Good Food Nation. The vision of this is about making a real and positive difference to the lives of the people of Scotland by helping to improve their access to, and understanding of, the benefits of healthy local foods; ensuring sustainability of our wonderful food industry; and looking to grow Scotland's reputation as a Good Food Nation from which other countries can learn.

Our Programme of Measures – published in September 2018 and updated in November 2019 – confirms the great work being done across Government to deliver on our Good Food Nation goal. The Programme of Measures provides information on the wide range of work that is ongoing throughout Scotland across five key areas of health, social justice, knowledge, environmental sustainability and prosperity.

Children's Human Dignity At School

6 Schools should continue to ensure that learning environments promote positive behaviour in pupils and teachers, addressing disruptive behaviour through discussion.

We are continuing work to develop new national human rights-based guidance on the use of physical intervention, such as restraint and seclusion, in schools. The guidance is expected to be published in 2021.

The Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools has continued to meet and provide advice and information on approaches to positive behaviour and relationships in school.

7 We will work with the General Teaching Council for Scotland to ensure that a commitment to trust and respect is embedded in the Professional Standards for teachers.

In January 2021 the General Teaching Council for Scotland published a revised suite of Professional Standards for Teachers in Scotland. These refreshed Professional Standards now include a section called "being a teacher in Scotland" which highlights the professional values of social justice, trust and respect and integrity as being at the heart of what it means to be a teacher in Scotland. These Standards are the mandatory requirements for registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland and will start being used from 2 August 2021.

Extract from the revised Professional Standards:

Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are expectations of positive actions that support authentic relationship building and show care for the needs and feelings of the people involved and respect for our natural world and its limited resources.

  • Promoting and engendering a rights-respecting culture and the ethical use of authority associated with one's professional roles.
  • Acting and behaving in ways that develop a culture of trust and respect for self, others and the natural world.
  • Understanding, acknowledging, and respecting the contribution of others in positively influencing the lives of learners.
  • Understanding health and wellbeing and the importance of positive and purposeful relationships to provide and ensure a safe and secure environment for all learners and colleagues within a caring and compassionate ethos.
  • Respecting individual difference and supporting learners' understanding of themselves, others and their contribution to the development and sustainability of a diverse and inclusive society.

Environmental Protection And Pollution Levels

8 We will work with relevant partners to increase awareness of existing opportunities and make support available for young people and other community groups to carry out their own local projects to reduce the impact of littering and increase community pride in their local area.

We are considering next steps in reviewing our National Litter Strategy which is at the end of its five-year life span. As part of this process we will engage with relevant stakeholders on how to improve education and messaging and make support available to young people to reduce the impact of littering.

9 We will consult young people on how to reduce the use of plastic and where possible consider a full or partial ban for certain products in Scotland.

Our consultation on introducing market restrictions on single-use plastics items in Scotland closed on 4 January. The responses are now being studied and will be considered in our policy decisions.

Before the consultation the Expert Panel for Environmental Charging and Other Measures, which included a Youth Leadership and 2050 Climate Group representative, reported their findings on principles that can be used to reduce the dependence on single-use items in society.

We will also consider how to ensure young people are given the chance to offer their views in future consultations on single-use cup charges.

10 We will listen to all voices on the value of plastic and set out strong policy that puts the environment first and tackles the throwaway culture for single-use plastics.

We will carry out a public consultation of the draft regulations to allow all members of the public to have their say on how best to tackle the throwaway culture for single-use plastics.

Depending on the results of the consultation, we intend to introduce legislation in 2021 restricting the use of single-use plastic items most commonly found littered on European beaches.

Young Carers' Mental Health

11 We will work with young carers to ensure that they can access the right help, advice and signposting to support their mental health and wellbeing. This includes supporting opportunities for direct engagement with Young Carer MSYPs in relation to this work.

A dedicated page to young carers' wellbeing and mental health is being developed for the National Wellbeing Hub, which already includes a page for adult unpaid carers. This is being done in collaboration with a focus group of young carers, supported by Carers Trust Scotland. This group of young carers also includes two Young Carer MSYPs. We hope to launch the page by spring.

We have also now provided a total of £300,000 in extra funding for the Young Scot young carer package this year. This additional funding is to help support young carers' wellbeing and enable them to take some form of a break. Recently the package has been able to offer e-vouchers, subscriptions to streaming services and wellbeing boxes. Young Scot continue to adapt and change what the package offers based on young carers' feedback on what they need to support themselves.

Youth Work Budget Cuts

12 We are committed to listening to children and young people's views and taking account of their views. We will support young people to meet with COSLA to discuss their concerns around the cuts to youth work budgets.

We have contacted the Children and Young People's policy officer at COSLA in order to help organise a meeting with MSYPs.

We are continuing to refresh the National Youth Work Strategy which will be published later this year.

We are supporting the return of youth work following the pandemic through the youth work education recovery fund. This additional investment will help young people who have been most affected by the pandemic to regain confidence and continue with their learning journey.

Homelessness And Housing

13 We will continue to support the national roll-out of Housing First, building on the learning from the pathfinder programme in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.

Housing First offers settled accommodation and wrap-around support to people with multiple and complex needs.

By the end of January 2021, 426 tenancies had started in the five Housing First "pathfinder" or pilot areas. We continue to support the national roll-out of Housing First across Scotland and other local authorities have now developed Housing First programmes. Some areas have specific Housing First for Youth projects, including in West Lothian, Fife and Aberdeen. A range of partner organisations are supporting this work, including the Rock Trust, Almond Housing Association and Aberdeen Foyer.

New Progress Updates From Cabinet Takeover 2019:

Action: Building on the Programme for Government 2018 – 2019 commitment, Ministers announced their intention to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law.

On 1 September 2020, the UNCRC Bill was introduced to Scottish Parliament that will incorporate the UNCRC into the law of Scotland. The reason for doing this is that we want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and we want all children and young people to grow up loved, safe and respected.

Incorporation means children's rights will be legally protected in Scotland. It will mean that public authorities must take steps to respect children's
rights in their decisions and actions. This includes producing child-friendly reports which explain what they have been doing to respect children's rights and what they plan to do to improve.

Children and young people will have to be involved and listened to in decisions about their own lives and communities. It will also mean that children, young people and their representatives will be able to use courts in Scotland to enforce their rights.

Since introduction in September, the Equalities and Human Rights Committee in Scottish Parliament have listened to a wide variety of people, including children and young people, on what they think of the Bill. The Committee produced several reports including a report for children and young people. The Scottish Government responded to the committee with a stage 1 report.

The Bill must pass through 3 stages before it gains Royal Assent and becomes law. The Bill passed stage 1 in January and completed stage 2 on 11 February. This included a decision to amend the Bill to commence 6 months after Royal Assent. This means that children's rights could be part of Scots law this year!

The third and final stage of the Bill will take place in March. Scottish Government will continue to work with public authorities like schools and the police to make sure that the Bill changes culture and children and young people's rights are consistently respected, protected and fulfilled.

More information about our progress on this action can be found on our Children's Rights webpage.

Action: We will raise awareness and understanding of children's rights across all age groups in Scotland (e.g. Article 42) through our co-production programme.

As part of our awareness raising programme, Young Scot and Children in Scotland, in partnership with children and young people, have launched #ActivateYourRights supported by the Scottish Government. Through a range of activities and workshops, these resources help educators support children and young people to understand their rights and to recognise when they are being upheld, whilst encouraging children and young people to defend their rights and ask for support to ensure they are recognised. A focus group of teachers and Community Learning and Development (CLD) practitioners has been set up to test and feed back on these materials. This is due to start in March 2021.

Revision of the Scottish Government's UNCRC Booklet is also underway, to ensure it keeps up with developments around UNCRC incorporation. Approximately 5,000 UNCRC booklets will be sent out across Scotland in April 2021 to practitioners, children, young people and families.

Work alongside Education Scotland and YouthLink Scotland also continues in order to strengthen awareness and understanding of children's rights through the refresh and testing of the CLD version of Recognising and Realising Children's Rights training tool, which aims to support the development of a rights-based culture across CLD practitioners and settings.

Action: We will carry out a comprehensive review of an extension of discounts on public transport currently available to those aged 16-18 and extending it to those under the age of 26. This will incorporate an appraisal of costs and benefits as any changes to the scheme must fully consider the range of impacts that may result and where benefits may accrue.

We have continued to engage with young people and listen to their views on the U26 review and on the development of our National Transport Strategy which was published in February 2020 along with the Young Scot engagement report. The strategy recognises the importance of affordability of public transport to young people which is also what the Cabinet heard when agreeing the transport action to review discounts.

Since the commitment to carry out a review was made Scottish Ministers have gone further and confirmed the extension of free bus travel to approximately 770,000 young people, which was a commitment in the 2020 Programme for Government. Once the scheme starts, as soon as practically possible, young people under the age of 19 will join the third of Scotland's population who already benefit from free bus travel. Public consultation has shown strong support for the scheme.

The wider U26 review was paused as a result of the impact of COVID-19, and has since restarted and is nearly finished, including updating the evidence base for the impact COVID-19 has had on young people. We have worked with Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament to discuss the review and to understand the challenges relating to transport and affordability for young people.

As part of the wider evidence base included for our U26 review, we have worked with the Poverty Alliance to carry out research and talk to families about how they use transport. This focused on the experiences of the six priority groups identified in the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22. The field work has been completed and the report will be published when ready.

Action: We will continue to support children and young people to cope with challenges and adversity, which would include bereavement, and consider how the school community can best support children and young people.

There are lots of resources available to teachers to help them teach health and wellbeing or PSE (Personal and Social Education) lessons that help support children and young people to cope with challenges, adversity and/or trauma. For example, there are resources on Education Scotland's website to support teachers to deliver learning on bereavement. These, and other good practice resources, will be brought together for teachers in one place as part of our work to deliver the PSE review recommendations.

We also know the experience of death and bereavement can have long lasting negative effects on children and young people's lives. In partnership with Young Scot, we produced the Death Tings report to identify the important issues to young people around death and dying. In March 2020, the Scottish Government awarded a contract for a National Childhood Bereavement Coordinator for Scotland. The coordinator will be a national champion and help oversee childhood bereavement support services in Scotland. This will help to respond appropriately to children and young people's needs in this area.



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