Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on summer activities for children and young people

Published: 7 May 2021

Guidance to local authorities regarding funding for enhanced activities for children, young people and families in the 2021 school summer holidays.

7 May 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on summer activities for children and young people

£15 million has been allocated to local authorities for the targeted provision of holiday activities, working alongside local partners.

The purpose of this guidance is to help local authorities understand how the funding allocated to them as part of the commitments to enhanced activities for children, young people and families in 2021 school summer holidays can be used, and expectations for reporting.

Why the funding has been provided

Local authorities across Scotland have been provided with this funding to help improve the wellbeing of children and young people over the summer period. Local authorities will be able to work with local and national partners to coordinate and deliver holiday activities and experiences, integrating food and wider family support where needed. This work will be targeted at low income families, children and young people particularly adversely affected by the impacts of the pandemic.

This investment is part of Scottish Government’s social renewal agenda following the pandemic and is focused on getting it right for every child by promoting the wellbeing of children and young people. It also complements wider investment in holiday support through free school meal replacement for those eligible for free school meals on the basis of low income, and wider investment in education recovery.

The priority for this £15 million investment is to help address the negative impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and lack of participation in normal activities during the pandemic. This is in acknowledgement of the hugely difficult time  children, young people and families across Scotland have experienced.

It is to provide opportunities for them to socialise and reconnect with peers and others during the summer through delivery of a range of activities within local communities.

Using a rights based approach will enable a broad range of children’s rights to be further realised during this time. These include the right to play; freedom to meet up with friends and socialise; right to receive support to help them recover their health, dignity, self-respect and social life. It is also about making sure children and young people’s views are listened to and actively inform the next stages of the easing back towards normality.

Who the funding is intended to reach

This provision is aimed at children and young people most likely to be experiencing continued disadvantage and who will therefore have been particularly adversely affected by the pandemic. The age range this support is intended to reach is 0 – 25, recognising that support for care leavers extends beyond 18. Several groups of children and young people have particular wellbeing needs which require targeted support.

These include:

  • Children from low income households
  • Children from those priority family groups identified in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan: larger families; families with a disabled child or adult; young mothers; families with children under one; and minority ethnic families
  • Children from families who have been shielding during the pandemic and whose ability to engage in activities and socialise will have been very limited
  • Children with a disability or additional support need
  • Care experienced children and young people
  • Young carers
  • Children in need of protection
  • Children supported by a child’s plan
  • Children who have undergone significant transitions during lockdown or will experience them this year, including starting in ELC, starting primary school, moving to secondary school and leaving school. 

Partners should also consider how activities and services are delivered in remote / rural areas, where the range of existing provision could be more limited and geographic barriers to access services may be considerable.

The particular needs of these target groups, their views and priorities, should be considered when planning summer holiday provision to ensure that they are able to fully participate.

Approach to delivery

The overarching aim of the funding is to help restore the wellbeing of children and young people during the summer of 2021.

Focus of delivery should be on:

  • Providing opportunities to (re)connect with friends, peers, wider community, the outdoors and nature, as well as with trusted adults.
  • Providing opportunities for children and young people to play, be active and enjoy themselves. Such activities will provide key learning opportunities and help support children’s return to school in the autumn by boosting wellbeing and confidence. Activities should be wide ranging and inclusive as possible to cover all interests, backgrounds and circumstances and shaped around a theme of fun and play with a view to providing positive experiences. Activities may include: sports; expressive arts; crafts; outdoor learning; trips and visits. Time outdoors should be optimised.
  • Equity Activities should be accessible to target families and barriers to participation such as transport should be mitigated as far as possible. Consideration should be given to how to meet wider needs including through the integration of food, childcare, financial inclusion, family support and referral on to wider services where needed. Principles of dignity and human rights should be applied, promoting non-stigmatising provision of services and supports. Resources are available to help integrate dignified food provision.
  • Engagement should build on existing trusted relationships and communication methods so that children and families know about the offer and are encouraged to participate. Communication and promotion of the summer provision should be coordinated locally in order to maximise engagement among target groups. A national marketing strategy is also being developed to support this and will include a stakeholder toolkit that local partners can use to promote their own activities. Details will be shared once available.

Guiding Principles

Co-creation with children, young people, and families

The summer offer will have children’s rights and wellbeing at its heart, founded in the UNCRC and GIRFEC. It is important that, as far as possible, any local offers are shaped around what children and young people of all ages say/have said that they want and need, and what would help them to recover and re-engage in their local communities. The particular priorities of those in the target groups outlined above should help shape delivery plans to ensure that support reaches those who would most benefit.

Building on existing services, assets and knowledge of what works

Much activity will already be in place at a local level, many local authorities and other local third sector and community partners, including faith groups, deliver holiday activities and holiday childcare currently, and plans may be underway for this summer. The aim of this investment is to enhance any such existing work, building on and learning from existing good practice. It is anticipated that this funding will support improved coordination of existing provision, fill gaps and create new opportunities, led by local knowledge and experience.

Partnership working and coordination

It is expected that existing and new local partnerships will play a key role in ensuring the coordination and reach of provision. In particular the Children’s Services Planning Partnerships should take the leading role in planning to ensure a joined up whole system approach to its development and delivery. Working with the existing childcare sector (ELC and school age childcare), outdoor education providers, activity providers (including sports clubs) and the youth work and CLD sectors will ensure a broad range of interests can be supported.

Using the funding

Local partners have the flexibility to use this funding to meet local needs, building on what is already in place and responding creatively to what children and young people want.

Provision should not be restricted to the delivery of activity programmes, but could include more personalised support such as the provision of passes to local attractions or leisure services for some families for whom participation in group activities may not be possible or preferred.

Travel costs, particularly for those on low incomes and in rural areas, could also be covered as a key measure to remove barriers to participation.

The funding could be used for capital costs, such as the purchase of play equipment, as well as costs for staff and volunteer training. However, it is expected that most spend will be on the delivery of activities and provision for children and young people.

Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation

The £15 million funding is being paid to local authorities through the General Revenue Grant.  Light touch reporting will provide Scottish Government with information on delivery and reach of the funding, as well as help inform future policy and practice. The reporting template should be completed and returned to  by Friday 24th September.

Integrating opportunities to learn and adapt throughout project delivery is encouraged and will help inform reporting and next steps. Crucially, we are looking to understand who this funding reached and the impact it has on children, young people, and families.

Scottish Government commissioned follow-up engagement with children and young people after the summer will also help to understand whether the activities met their needs.

National organisations

Alongside the £15 million being made available to local authorities for targeted provision of activities a national offer is also being developed. This £5 million investment will help provide some free or low cost access to activities for children and young people, including the groups noted above, within their communities should they wish to take part. It will involve support from a coalition of strategic partners to enable service providers to provide enhanced opportunities across Scotland this summer.

It will be important that these activities are also accessible to target groups, and that national bodies engage with local authorities and other local partners to ensure coordination and align provision with joined-up communications.

Tools to Support Delivery

Public Health Advice and Resources

For the most up to date health advice please visit NHS Inform. Further guidance is available from Public Health Scotland.

Safe delivery of activities and services for children and young people

Guidance for organised unregulated activities for children and young people under 18: Coronavirus (COVID-19): organised activities for children - (

Guidance for regulated childcare settings:  early learning and childcareschool age childcare,  or childminding services

Staff, volunteer and service user safety

Local authorities should ensure the organisations they work with have appropriate processes for safeguarding and data protection in relation to employees, volunteers and the people they are supporting.

To lower the risk of transmission and protect us all, physical distancing advice should be followed at all times and current guidance on protection levels for your local area adhered to.

Public Heath Scotland and Scottish Community Development Centre have produced guidance on supporting communities safely. This includes information on social and physical distancing, hand hygiene, and preparing, handling and delivering food. The information is updated regularly.

Food safety

See further information and guidance from Food Standards Scotland on safe preparation and handling of food in the context of the pandemic.

Food Standards

Many of the standards in the Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020 will apply to holiday provision and as such anyone running holiday clubs will need to make sure they are familiar with the Regulations.  In general, all of the Regulations that apply to food and drink provided on school premises will also apply to third party providers. It is recommended to engage with local authority catering leads who will be aware of what applies, to whom and when. 

Further detail can also be found in the Healthy Eating in Schools 2020 guidance which is statutory guidance designed to support implementation of the Regulations.  Even where the Regulations do not apply, it would be good practice to consider this guidance for holiday provision particularly where meals such as breakfasts and lunches are being provided.

Useful reports, case studies and project examples

  • Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit (SPIRU) has produced a tool to support local mapping of out of school holiday provision. This may be useful for local authorities and other partners looking to better understand current provision in their areas: