Programme for Government 2018 to 2019

Sets out our plans for the next year, including the Bills that will be introduced to the Scottish Parliament.

Chapter 3 - The Best Place to Grow Up and Learn

We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up and that means ensuring every child has an equal chance to succeed. We want all our children to grow up in a supportive environment where we invest significantly in their future – not just financially – but also with time, energy, and love.

To do this we will take actions that start before birth – transforming maternity care so that women receive continuity of carer throughout their pregnancy and providing a Baby Box with essentials for these early months. And to accelerate help to new families so that every child has the best start in life we will start making payments from our Best Start Grant by this Christmas – more than six months early.

We will take forward work to deliver a transformational increase in early learning and childcare, in a nurturing environment, so that all children, regardless of their background, get the same start in life.

We will pick up the pace of the reforms needed to put power in the hands of headteachers, schools and communities and will build on our work to close the attainment gap. We will work with local government on additional support for learning to secure more positive experiences for those in need of support and their families. Our transformation in support for good mental health will mean that children and young people will have a much wider range of support available to them including new school nurses and counsellors. To complement this we will improve the experience of students in further and higher education with wrap around support and more financial assistance, including changes to student loan repayments.

We will do more to prevent adverse childhood experiences. Where children do experience adversity or trauma, they will be supported by services that recognise the impact of those experiences and that help children and adults to be resilient. This will make serious inroads into the preventative agenda set out in the Christie Report on The Future Delivery of Public Services, by our public services working innovatively and in partnership to provide high quality support.

We will ensure that we listen to the voices of children and young people in the decisions that affect them now and will incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law.

Getting the best start in life

We will transform maternity care in Scotland with women receiving continuity of carer throughout their pregnancy, improving relationships and outcomes. Postnatal and neonatal care will be reformed to keep families together as much as possible, supporting bonding and enabling parents to deliver more care for their baby. This will be supported by the improvements in support for women suffering from mental ill-health during pregnancy.

The Baby Box will continue to be available to every child born in Scotland, providing essential items for those earliest stages in life. We will support pregnant women and young children most in need to have healthy, nutritious food through our Best Start Foods Scheme. And, by this Christmas, families on lower incomes will have received the first payments from the Best Start Grant – the Pregnancy and Baby Payment.

Early learning and childcare

We will continue to implement our commitment to double entitlement to funded early learning and childcare for eligible 2 year olds and for all 3 and 4 year olds to 1140 hours from August 2020. This is a cornerstone in giving every child the best start in life, closing the attainment gap and reaching our economic potential as a nation. Its benefits will also be felt in household budgets – our investment in early learning and childcare will save a family around £4,500 per child a year. As a result of our commitment and funding in 2017-18, over 3,000 children benefited from access to more funded early learning and childcare.


750 New, extended or Refurbished nurseries

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750 New, extended or Refurbished nurseries

In April we reached a landmark deal with local government on a multi-year funding package worth over £1 billion. This funding is paying for 750 new, extended or refurbished nurseries as well as skilled staff, food for children and play equipment.

We know that a professional, dedicated and skilled workforce is essential to our children’s life chances and we will continue to invest and provide more opportunities for training in a range of settings. This year we’ve seen new early years practitioners start full time training and we are funding an extra 435 additional graduates to work directly with children in our most deprived communities. We will take forward work to increase provision of early years courses in colleges and universities and support vocational training routes including piloting a new graduate apprenticeship and delivering a 10% year-on-year increase in modern apprenticeships. This year, we expect to see around 1,700 people start on early learning and childcare apprenticeships.

On top of this, our work this year includes:

  • ensuring that early learning and childcare is high quality and offers choice to families by introducing a National Standard for Funded Providers from 2020, which will be published by the end of 2018
  • ensuring that early learning and childcare providers, including childminders, are supported through the transition to the implementation of the expanded entitlement in 2020
  • providing £76 million of revenue funding and £150 million of capital funding to local authorities to allow them to grow and develop their early years workforce and creating additional nursery space
  • working with the Scottish Funding Council to offer over 1,500 additional places on Higher National Certificate courses in colleges in 2018-19 and over 400 extra graduate level places
  • working with local authorities and others to develop and launch an awareness-raising campaign to ensure that families understand what the expansion of funded early learning and childcare means for them, and how they can access their child’s entitlement
  • supporting local authorities to improve uptake of funded early learning and childcare for eligible 2 year olds

Outdoor learning and play
We know the benefits of outdoor learning, exercise and play for children. Playing, learning and having fun outdoors helps to improve wellbeing and resilience as well as physical and mental health and also provides children with the opportunity to develop a life-long appreciation of the natural world. A growing body of research also shows a positive impact on educational attainment.

The significant expansion of funded early learning and childcare provides an opportunity to define the type of experience we offer children during their early years. We will provide guidance to all early learning and childcare providers on how to access local outdoor space and how to set up an outdoor nursery experience. Also, we have provided £860,000 of funding to Inspiring Scotland to work with eight local authorities to increase and improve their outdoor learning, which will include the establishment of two outdoor nurseries.

As well as providing these experiences for our youngest children, we will also support our young people to have regular, frequent outdoor learning experiences. We will provide £600,000 of funding over the next two years through the Outdoor Learning in Nature Fund for up to 16 projects in nurseries, schools and community groups across Scotland. All the projects involve working with schools and nurseries to help children from our most deprived areas spend time in nature.

We will create more opportunities for more primary school children to have the chance to visit a farm to raise their awareness of where their food comes from and the key role Scottish farmers play as custodians of the countryside and as food producers.

Additionally, our continued investment in a range of sustainable outdoor play-focused initiatives support the promotion of free play outdoors in areas across Scotland and provide many benefits – not only for children, but for parents and the whole community.

School years

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is focused on improving numeracy, literacy and health and wellbeing. Supporting the wellbeing of our young people is also reflected in the commitments made in this Programme for Government to tackle adverse childhood experiences and radical reform of support for children and young people’s mental wellbeing. It is vital in closing the attainment gap and raising the bar.

Scottish Attainment Challenge

The attainment gap is closing. But we know there is much more to do to make sure no child is left behind. We will continue to invest in the Scottish Attainment Challenge and in this financial year have provided £179 million to local authorities and schools to help close the attainment gap with the Attainment Scotland Fund.

From that Fund, those places and schools that need it most will receive their share of £50 million this year to deliver targeted literacy, numeracy and wellbeing support. Our Pupil Equity Funding of £120 million is going directly to the hands of headteachers and helping more than 95% of schools in Scotland to address the attainment gap. Initiatives supported by this funding focus on helping children to overcome barriers, often linked to poverty and adverse childhood experiences, that are preventing them from achieving their potential.

As part of this, home-school workers have a vital role to play in supporting families and closing the attainment gap. Local authorities and individual schools are using Attainment Scotland and Pupil Equity funding to employ more of these key staff. In the coming year we will continue our work with local authorities to ensure that every school has access to home-school link worker support by the end of 2019.

Additional support for learning

We want all children and young people to get the support they need to reach their full learning potential and we have listened to the experiences of children and families about getting that support. We will take action to secure more positive experiences for those receiving support. We will work with local government towards:

  • improving consistency of support across Scotland, through improved guidance
  • building further capacity to deliver effective additional support
  • improving career pathways and professional development, including new free training resources for school staff on inclusive practices

After-school and holiday childcare

We are committed to developing a strategic framework for after-school and holiday childcare over the course of this Parliament and in the next year we will publish a consultation asking for views on that draft framework.

Putting teachers, parents and communities in the driving seat

We will pick up the pace of reform and are working with local government to agree an approach to empower schools, that will deliver a school and teacher led education system. Rather than wait for legislation we are taking forward work now that, in the year ahead, will make empowerment a reality by:

  • working with partners to deliver a Headteachers’ Charter, supported by new national guidance, to be published by the end of 2018. The Charter and the guidance will put headteachers in control of important decisions that are fundamental to running their schools such as curriculum, staffing and budgets
  • enhancing the high quality practical support and expertise available through the Regional Improvement Collaboratives and Education Scotland with investment of up to £10 million in this academic year
  • investing up to £4 million over three years to ensure headteachers have the right skills and support to effectively lead our schools. This will build on the national package of leadership support which includes the Into Headship, In Headship and Excellence in Headship development programmes, leading to a comprehensive suite of professional development for headteachers
  • working with local authorities to pilot a new national survey of parents and carers by summer 2019, with a view to wider roll out in academic year 2019-20, as part of delivering on actions in our plan for parental engagement which was published last month
  • trialling a Scottish Learner Panel from this autumn to provide young people with an opportunity to influence national education policy

We will continue to support teacher recruitment through new routes into the profession, which have already resulted in around 280 additional student teachers. The independent panel considering the design and development of teacher career pathway models is due to make recommendations by the end of 2018.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths)

We will continue to take forward actions through our STEM education and training strategy to develop Scotland’s talent and capability in an area crucial to reaching our economic potential.

Actions already taken in the last year include our introduction of a bursary scheme of up to £20,000 for career changers in certain STEM subjects, as part of our continuing efforts to improve the supply of STEM talent into the teaching profession.

This year our work includes improving the gender balance in those participating in STEM learning, courses and training and expanding STEM hubs to strengthen partnerships between schools, colleges, universities, science centres and employers.


Invest up to £4 million To ensure headteachers Have the skills, support And expertise they need To be the key decision-makers In the life of their school

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Invest up to £4 million To ensure headteachers Have the skills, support And expertise they need To be the key decision-makers In the life of their school

Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig

We will be providing Gaelic medium education Scottish national standardised assessments (Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig) to ensure that teachers and parents of pupils in Gaelic medium education have the same access to robust, consistent evidence of children’s progress.

Beyond school

We have significantly invested in further and higher education with real-terms increases in funding to support 116,000 full-time equivalent college places in this financial year and we have a record number of Scottish students getting a place at university through UCAS – and that includes more students than ever before from our most deprived communities.

In giving young people the best start in life, we also aspire to create the best opportunities for them to flourish as adults. This includes supporting the development of their skills and ensuring they remain relevant in the rapidly evolving world of work. Our expansion of apprenticeship opportunities creates an increasingly diverse range of skills and training pathways for those starting work for the first time and those already in work to fulfil their potential. And our Flexible Workforce Development Fund provides the opportunity for the upskilling and reskilling of our current workforce.

Choosing and staying on the right path

We want to ensure that young people have the confidence to choose the career path that is right for them. To have this confidence young people need the right advice and support. They also need to hear a clear message from their earliest childhood that they have the potential to get the right skills for the kind of jobs they want – and that what they want is good enough. Our careers advice should also reflect that as our economy advances, young people need to be able to be flexible to change jobs.

We will take forward the recommendations of the 15-24 Learner Journey Review, published in May. In the year ahead this includes, starting work to:

  • ensure every pupil in Scotland has access to an online account to collate their skills and experiences, enhancing the personalised support available when choosing courses and planning a career
  • deliver a new careers strategy by autumn 2019 to set the vision for high quality career information, advice and guidance services accessible to all
  • improve choice through the expansion of Graduate Apprenticeships to provide new higher level technical skills

We will progress our work with colleges, schools and employers to improve the lives of young people, especially those aged 15-24. This will include the continued delivery of the Developing Young Workforce programme, building on its success to date, having achieved its headline target to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021 – four years early.

Widening access and student support

Since 2007 we have provided free tuition to over half a million students in full-time higher education.

We will continue to drive forward recommendations of the Commission on Widening Access to meet our commitment to equal access to university by 2030. While great progress has been made in helping young people succeed we want to do more to make sure the right practical support is there in the right place and at the right time.

We support the central premise of the independent Review of Student Support of creating a system around the key values of fairness, parity and clarity.

To take forward the recommendations of the Review we will:

  • invest £5.2 million in this financial year to increase bursaries for full-time care-experienced further and higher education students to £8,100 a year – equivalent to the Living Wage
  • invest £16 million in the next financial year to expand and increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families
  • raise the repayment threshold for student loans to £25,000 from April 2021 and from this year lower the maximum repayment threshold for student loans from 35 to 30 years
  • launch an online portal for student financial information, advice and guidance across further and higher education, including a budget calculator

As part of our actions to tackle child poverty, this year we are working with the Students Awards Agency Scotland ( SAAS), to increase understanding of funding support, through expanding the SAAS Outreach Programme, which proactively provides face-to-face, digital and published student information. £150,000 funding is helping expand this successful model to reach children and young people from our priority families, making sure they can access the funding support available.

Wrap-around support for students
We want to see wrap-around support for students from day one of their studies to qualification and graduation. Students should have access to support which is person-centred, and supports their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. We want to work with the sector, to develop an integrated approach to student wellbeing in Higher and Further Education, that links and interconnects support for mental health, student safety, pastoral support and information and advice services, including clear pathways to support. Building on best practice in the sector, students will know where to go for information, support and advice, and when required, support can be provided rapidly, to ensure a student is able to successfully stay on their course.

To make this vision a reality, in the year ahead we will work with all key players, including students, the higher and further education sectors, Scottish Funding Council, our NHS, Police Scotland, third sector and the Emily Test campaign, to shape what wrap-around support should look like. We will then work with colleges and universities, and their partners, to develop the approach. This work will complement our commitment to increased provision of counselling services for young people and adults in colleges and universities, where over 80 additional counsellors will provide support to students during their studies.

Investing in looked after children – time, money and love

The Independent Care Review will identify and deliver lasting change to the care system, transforming the life chances and wellbeing of children and young people in care, and providing the kind of preventative support which the Christie Report envisaged.

As the work of the Review continues we will continue to improve the support available for children and their families investing time, money and love in their future.

By the end of this year all local authorities will have been offered help from the Permanence in Care Excellence programme, based on our knowledge that faster decisions mean better life chances for looked after children.

We look forward to receiving recommendations from the National Review of Foster, Kinship and Adoption Care Allowances for a national kinship care and foster care allowance. We will set out our next steps following the conclusion of the review.

We will work with partners to provide support for mothers with complex and challenging needs who have frequent pregnancies, but whose children are taken into care. We want to break this cycle by supporting women and creating the space for them to take control of their lives and develop new skills.

From the Attainment Scotland Fund, we will provide £33 million, with £8.2 million available in this financial year, for local authorities to provide targeted initiatives, activities, and resources, that will help improve the educational outcomes of care experienced young people.

As part of a wider package of support for survivors of historic child abuse in-care, we committed to a consultation on the provision of financial redress. We expect to receive recommendations from the independent group taking this important work forward shortly and will announce next steps in the autumn.

Social work workforce

Giving our children and families the best possible life chances needs a strong social work workforce. In the year ahead our actions include:

  • delivering a campaign to promote the social services sector as a positive career destination
  • working with partners to improve the data, guidance and tools available for workforce planning


£8.2 million To help care-experienced Young people with their education

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£8.2 million To help care-experienced Young people with their education

We will support the skills and resilience of social workers and their transition into practice by:

  • developing a Social Work Education Partnership to deliver improvements to consistency and quality of social work education
  • working with the Social Services Council to pilot options for a supported year in practice for newly qualified social workers

Children’s rights

We are consulting on changes to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, including consultation questions specifically for children and young people. We will consider the views put forward and introduce a Family Law Bill to:

  • ensure that the child’s best interests are at the centre of any contact or residence case or Children’s Hearing
  • ensure that the voice of the child is heard
  • ensure that cases and hearings are dealt with in an efficient way

In the year ahead we will also:

  • support the removal of the defence to the physical punishment of children proposed by the Member’s Bill being developed by John Finnie MSP
  • launch a National Hub for the prevention of child deaths which will include establishing a new national approach for effective, sensitive child death reviews by 2020

The Family Law Bill will ensure that the child’s best interests are at the centre of any contact or residence case or Children’s Hearing and that the voice of the child is heard

Incorporating the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Scottish Government is already committed to ensuring that the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC) are embedded into policy and legislation in an effective and practical way. In the last Programme for Government we committed to undertake a comprehensive audit on the most effective and practical way to further embed those principles. The audit is well under way and will continue. Now, building on that work, we will incorporate the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law.

Evidence shows that there are different ways to achieve this, and that there are some particular complexities in relation to the UNCRC which require to be worked through. It will be important to develop a model that will deliver the best outcomes for children, young people and families in Scotland. In order to deliver this commitment, we will consult widely, including with children, young people and families. We will also continue to work closely with local authorities and other public bodies across Scotland, as well as third sector partners. As part of that work, we will consider where it may be possible for Scots law to go further than the Convention requires, where that is demonstrably beneficial for children and young people. In the meantime, we will continue to consider ways in which rights under the UNCRC can be given better or further effect across individual policy areas. To support these commitments, we are working with children, young people and stakeholders to co-design and co-deliver a three-year children’s rights awareness-raising programme.

Adverse childhood experiences
Preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) is a moral imperative. It requires our public services to work collaboratively, and with communities, across early years, education, health, justice, social work and more. Our objective is to improve the wellbeing of children – and adults – to give the best chance for those who have suffered adversity to go on to live their lives to the full. Our investment in tackling adverse childhood experiences now is not only an investment in improving the life chances and happiness of each individual child, it is also a down payment on improved health and wellbeing and a future Scotland’s educational and economic success.

What are ACEs?
Research shows that adverse childhood experiences have a huge impact on our childhoods and can have lasting effects throughout adulthood. ACEs are different types of abuse, neglect and family difficulties – including parental separation, domestic abuse and parents or carers with experience of alcohol or drug problems, imprisonment or mental ill-health. We are committed to addressing these and also a broader range of adversities that impact on children such as bereavement, bullying, homelessness and poverty.

What are we doing to help?
In the past year we have worked in partnership with the Scottish ACE Hub (led by NHS Health Scotland) and a wide range of people and organisations to embed a focus on better preventing ACEs and supporting the resilience of children and adults to overcome early life adversity. We are focusing our work around four key areas:

  • providing intergenerational support for parents, families and children to prevent ACEs
  • reducing the negative impact of ACEs for children and young people
  • developing adversity and trauma-informed workforces and services
  • increasing societal awareness and supporting action across communities

The Scottish ACEs Hub will be central to awareness raising and taking forward collaborative action across sectors and services, and supporting actions across local areas and communities.

What actions are we taking forward?
Providing intergenerational support for parents, families and children to prevent ACEs:

  • investing in perinatal and infant mental health to support parents and infants at the outset to prevent problems escalating
  • expanding the Family Nurse Partnership across Scotland to be available to first-time young mothers by the end of 2018 to develop parenting skills and support positive life choices
  • supporting low-income families and tackling child poverty

Reducing the negative impact of ACEs for children and young people:

  • schools and local authorities are using funding from the £750 million Attainment Scotland Fund to deliver health and wellbeing interventions (such as investing in educational psychologists, family support staff and counselling services) to support their pupils, including those who have suffered adverse childhood experiences
  • investing in the provision of school nurses and counsellors in schools and working with our partners and key stakeholders to implement the recommendations of the Personal and Social Education Review. The review is reporting at the end of 2018 and the actions will support children’s understanding of mental wellbeing, societal and cultural issues which affect them
  • building on the work done to deliver national guidance on anti-bullying, and improve recording and monitoring of bullying incidents in schools. ‘respectme’ will continue to work with local authorities and other young people’s organisations to build confidence and capacity to effectively address all forms of bullying
  • enabling improved contact between parents in prison and their children to support positive attachment and involvement in the life of their child, where appropriate, and enabling schools to be alerted in a non-stigmatising way of children in need of support following parental imprisonment
  • supporting cultural, sporting and outdoor activities which support the wellbeing and resilience of all children and young people and particularly where ACEs have occurred, such as Sistema Scotland, Outdoor Learning and Nature Fund, and investment in physical activity

Developing adversity and trauma-informed workforces and services which respond in ways which minimise distress, overcome barriers and build trust:

  • implementing national trauma training following NHS Education for Scotland development of a National Trauma Training Framework
  • funding development and testing of routine enquiry of ACEs in Scotland, where trained professionals ask adults in a sensitive way about adversity they experienced in childhood and how it impacts on them now
  • continuing support from Education Scotland to schools with developing effective responses to ACES by embedding nurture and trauma-informed approaches
  • improving experiences of the Children’s Hearings system to respond compassionately to traumatised and neglected children and young people
  • considering how the Barnahus concept for immediate trauma-informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes can operate within the context of Scotland’s healthcare and criminal justice system
  • supporting work with adults affected by ACEs and trauma in health and justice settings, such as the Navigator Programme in hospitals and improvement fund for health and social care in prisons

Increasing societal awareness and supporting action across communities:

  • incorporating ACEs questions into 2019 Scottish Health Survey, to better understand the prevalence of ACEs amongst Scottish adult population and the links with health outcomes and behaviours
  • working with the Scottish ACE Hub and other partners to raise awareness of ACEs across Scotland and supporting actions across communities
  • progressing work on children’s rights in Scotland


Email: Kathryn Fergusson

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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