As part of the Scottish Government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Deputy First Minister announced on 19 March 2020 that all local authority schools and childcare settings in Scotland would close from the end of the day on Friday 20 March 2020.
Emergency childcare was made available in a series of "hubs" for children of key workers and vulnerable children and through partnerships with local childcare providers. Local authorities were asked to support children with home learning, where possible and practical to do so.
Staff from across the education and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) sectors have stepped up to support children and young people through these challenging times. While the health and wellbeing of our nation's children is paramount, we recognise that school and childcare closures can have a significant impact on all aspects of children's progress and development.
The Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group ('C-19 Advisory Group') was established in March 2020 to inform decisions in Scotland during the pandemic. This draws on advice from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) and from other appropriate sources of evidence and information. The role of the C-19 Advisory Group includes providing insight and modelling to Ministers and to the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG).
The CERG group was established in April 2020 to support government decision making through providing advice to Ministers and local government on the practicalities around re-opening schools and ELC settings. The focus of the group is on how schools and childcare settings can re-open once the science indicates that it is safe to do so. The group is supported by ten workstreams, which draw on expertise from across the sectors, to recognise and respond to multiple factors that have already affected or will affect children and young people, families and the workforce that supports them. These include:
- the impact of school and childcare setting closures, home-learning and lockdown more broadly
- the process of re-opening schools and childcare settings and the necessary steps to do so
- supporting the sectors to ensure that when large-scale face-to-face education and care resumes, that it is done safely
The Scottish Government recognises the importance of embedding equality and human rights in our response to COVID-19. These considerations must be intrinsic to policy development as we develop our response.
The systems and policies we are putting in place to respond to COVID-19 must work for all of Scotland's people.
In all considerations, the safety and wellbeing of children and the adults who work with them has been paramount. This impact assessment sets out some initial considerations of the impacts on children, families and staff, informed by published and public material and input from the CERG. This is an ongoing process and as more evidence and detail develops, this will be reflected in further updates and/or additions to the assessment.