Education (Scotland) Bill: child rights and wellbeing impact assessment

Child rights and wellbeing impact assessment(CRWIA) for the Education (Reform) Bill.

7. Evidence from children and young people

Professor Muir's work was informed by comprehensive consultation with children and young people, which included commissioning Together/Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP)/Children's Parliament to seek their views[13]. This included 1,210 primary school and 394 secondary school aged children engaged with the online or downloadable toolkits, taking part in conversations facilitated by adults known to them; and in addition, 3,889 12- to 18-year-olds responded to an online survey; in a tailored consultation aimed specifically at gathering the views of children and young people. The views of Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) aged children were represented through the representative bodies for the ELC sector. This strong response from Children and Young People focused particularly on children's rights set out in UNCRC and the need for effective representation and involvement, particularly in inspection processes where efforts should be made to ensure that "students who are struggling… don't have their voices heard."

For the National Discussion on Scottish Education, all schools in Scotland were invited to take part using age-appropriate facilitation guides. Online National Discussion assemblies and classes were provided by e-Sgoil for primary and secondary age pupils with over 26,000 children and young people participating in these events.

Children and Young People focused organisations, such as Children in Scotland and SYP, welcomed Professor Muir's recommendations for putting learners at the centre of how decisions are made that affect them. Indeed, placing children and young people at the heart of Scottish education and promoting a vision that all learners matter were key findings of the National Discussion.

During the Scottish Government's engagement with organisations in March 2023, it was stressed that governance should be built from Article 29 of the UNCRC from the outset, ensuring a rights-based approach and co-design process that will be central to gaining trust, alongside transparency and publishing of information. It was recognised that it is important that learner participation does not simply become a sounding board for decisions which have already been taken. In respect of inspection, the organisations highlighted that this needs to feed into governance.

They also highlighted that there should be a rounded approach including reporting on wellbeing, equality, mental health and rights, and that young people should contribute to topics inspected and the inspections themselves.

Building on the previous engagement through the aforementioned reviews and the National Discussion, the Scottish Government launched the Education (Scotland) Bill consultation on a series of proposals which focused on the establishment of a new qualifications body and a new inspectorate. Underlying those proposals were the need to improve children and young people's educational outcomes and to address their changing needs by engaging them on the new body and inspectorate.

For this consultation, the Scottish Government engaged specifically with Children and Young People's organisations to ensure maximum engagement. Some partner organisations such as the National Parent Forum for Scotland (NPFS) undertook tailored surveys and focus groups of their membership. The NPFS feedback reported broad agreement on the need for change in Scottish education and highlighted the importance of incorporating the voice of teachers into the new bodies, while opinion was more split on the need for the SQA to be replaced.

Feedback during the consultation from Children and Young People's organisations saw strong calls for far-reaching and holistic reform of the education and skills landscape. Children and Young People's organisations consistently stressed that the new bodies should focus on establishing a participative and responsive approach.

This approach should build on but also go beyond the requirements in Articles 12 and 29 of the UNCRC, which respectively require that every child should be given the right to express their views and have those views taken seriously; and that children's education should develop their personalities and abilities as much as possible and encourage them to respect the rights of others and the environment. Specifically with regard to inspection, one of the areas children and young people responded to was in relation to learner engagement with inspection - children and young people were asked to express their view on current experiences, and their aspiration in terms of being heard during inspection. The children who were engaged with were of the view that HM Inspectors cannot have a full and fair view of the school unless they see children/learners as central to the process. There was endorsement of the Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment that focused on more varied modes of assessment and recognition of wider achievements throughout schooling. The need for additional focus on Additional Support for Learning and ensuring an inclusive education system were also highlighted.

A comprehensive overview of all input from Children and Young People throughout the Education Reform process that is relevant to the Bill was also provided as evidence to support the consultation and has been published alongside all other responses where consent was given.



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