Improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures: guidance

Guidance for local authorities, schools, early learning and childcare settings to help support children, young people and their families to engage in education.

Annex A. The policy and legislative context

Many national policies and frameworks contribute to the Scottish Government's vision for inclusion and support. A number of these are summarised here, alongside relevant legislation and the wider equality context.

The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 requires that education authorities must provide adequate and efficient school education within their area.[36] The Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 places education authorities under a duty to secure that the education provided by them is directed towards the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential.[37] In this way the Act incorporates in Scots law the right to education under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended)introduced the broad and inclusive term 'additional support needs', that applies to children or young people who, for whatever reason, require additional support, long or short term[38], in order to help them make the most of their school education and to be included fully in their learning.

The legislation provides the statutory framework for identifying and addressing the additional support needs of children and young people who face a barrier, or barriers, to learning. It aims to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their full potential. It also promotes collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people and sets out the rights of children, young people and parents within the system. Further information on the functions and duties of education authorities can be found in the statutory guidance to the Act, The Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice.

The provisions relating to transitions, as set out in the Code of Practice and the Additional Support for Learning (Changes in School Education) (Scotland) Regulations 2005, may be of particular relevance to Traveller children and young people and their parents.

The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 sets out the role of parents in Scottish Education, in terms of their involvement in the child's school and engagement in their child's learning. The act identifies three areas of particular importance: Learning at Home; Home/School Partnership; and Parental Representation. The Scottish Government will shortly consult on proposed amendments to the 2006 Act aimed at strengthening, modernising and extending the Act. The legislation is accompanied by a strong focus on parental involvement and engagement within the National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan, which provide the context for improvement at a school, local and national level. Local authorities are required to develop local parental engagement strategies which set out their approach to parental involvement/engagement across the council area. The Scottish Government will develop a national Action Plan on Parental Engagement during 2017/18.

The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination and harassment based on 'protected characteristics' such as race in a range of settings, including school education[39]. It further places a public sector equality duty (PSED) on public bodies and certain other bodies which carry out public functions. Education authorities and managers of grant-aided schools are subject to the PSED, as well as the more specific requirements of the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 which are designed to assist those subject to the PSED in meeting their general duty[40]. Those subject to the general equality duty must have due regard to the need to:

  • Eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation
  • Advance equality of opportunity between different groups
  • Foster good relations between different groups

As part of its work to deliver the PSED, in 2013 the Scottish Government publishes and reports on equality outcomes. The issue of inequality in education has been framed around three protected characteristics which evidence show need to be priorities, including race and specifically Gypsy/Travellers. Bullying was also identified as a key issue impacting on educational experience and outcomes. The Scottish Government published Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Reports in outcomes have been set for 2017-21.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 supports the Scottish Government's ambition for Scotland to be the best place to grow up. It seeks to improve the way services work together to support children, young people and families and ensure those children's rights are respected across the public sector. Specific duties embed the UNCRC within Scottish primary legislation (see also Children's Rights and Pupil Participation below). For example, part 1 (sections 2 and 3) of the 2014 Act places duties on public authorities, as defined at Schedule 1 to the Act, to report every 3 years on the steps they have taken in that period to secure better or further effect to the UNCRC. The first reports are due in 2020.

Part 3 of the 2014 Actplaces a duty on each local authority and the relevant NHS board to jointly prepare a children's services plan for the area of the local authority, covering a 3 year period. These plans should be prepared with involvement of the service providers capable of having a significant effect on the wellbeing of children. Plans should cover services for children generally and for children with specific needs (Traveller children could be considered as children with specific needs) and related services (services that aren't children's services but are capable of having a significant effect on the wellbeing of children).

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 (the "2016 Act")includes a mix of measures covering education in Scotland and sends a strong signal of the value placed on ensuring that all children and young people receive the best education they can and achieve their full potential. The 2016 Act has a clear focus on narrowing the attainment gap and enshrines in legislation the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the National Improvement Framework (see below).

Getting it right for every child is Scotland's approach to promote and improve wellbeing to help children and young people thrive. It puts their rights and wellbeing at the heart of the policies and services that support them and their families – such as early years services, schools and the NHS.

Getting it right for every child empowers services and families to work better together to offer the right help at the right time, from the right people. That means all children and families have access to high quality support wherever they live or learn with access to a Named Person as a clear point of contact if and when they need it.

Getting it right for every child recognises that children and young people will have different experiences in their lives, but that every child and young person has the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to grow and develop to reach their full potential.

Curriculum for Excellence(CfE)provides the curriculum framework for early learning and childcare settings and schools in Scotland. It is a flexible and inclusive curriculum with an increased emphasis placed on inter-disciplinary learning, skills development and encouraging personal achievement. CfE aims to foster four capacities in all young people: successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. The curriculum comprises a broad general education up to the end of S3 followed by a senior phase of learning from S4 to S6. Of importance for Traveller pupils is that there is now much greater flexibility in how schools design their Senior Phase Curriculum. There is a range of different approaches being adopted across the country, aimed at meeting the particular needs of learners in different areas.

The National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education outlines the Scottish Government's vision and priorities for children's progress in learning. The Framework and Improvement Plan will be key in driving work to continually improve Scottish education and close the attainment gap, delivering both excellence and equity. Over time, the Framework will provide a level of robust, consistent and transparent data, to extend understanding of what works to drive improvements across all parts of the education system.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge is about achieving equity in educational outcomes. Equity can be achieved by ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. This is set within the context of Curriculum for Excellence and targets improvement in the areas of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.

There is evidence emerging through the Attainment Scotland Fund (which includes funding to Attainment Challenge Authorities as well as Pupil Equity Funding direct to schools) that action is being taken to ensure that children and young people in equality groups are provided with the support they need to benefit from the activities and interventions in place. Examples include investment in speech and language development, additional support for pupils who speak English as an additional language, and funding for educational psychologists, counsellors and nurture bases.

The Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative (CYPIC): Through the CYPIC, the Scottish Government are supporting local authorities, health boards and the third sector to embed quality improvement (QI) in their work. This is strengthening services for children, young people and families and schools, as part of a wider range of measures to tackle inequality, improve outcomes and make Scotland the best place to grow up and learn.

At the heart of the CYPIC is prevention and early, effective intervention in line with Public Service Reform, Getting it right for every child, Child Poverty Strategy for Scotland and the Scottish Attainment Challenge; so that children and young people get support for their health, wellbeing and learning wherever they live. Through embedding QI, practitioners gather/share evidence about interventions and approaches that make the biggest difference in improving life chances and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

The CYPIC is aligned with the Maternity and Children Quality Improvement Collaborative which focuses on maternity, neonatal and paediatric healthcare.

Children's Rights and Pupil Participation - In addition to the specific duties on Scottish Ministers within the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (see above), the Scottish Government is committed to enhancing children's rights in all aspects of Scottish life. Understanding children's rights is fundamental for any professional working with children and young people and is the basis of the practical tool the Common Core of values and practices. The tool focuses on establishing respectful and meaningful relationships between children and those supporting them, as well as within practitioner partnership relationships. It can be used for personal and/or organisational self-evaluation and reflection.

The Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland (CYPCS) has produced the rights based 7 Golden Rules for Participation - a set of principles for anyone working with children and young people. They help children and young people tell adults about things that are important to them. A CYPCS research reportlooks at the relationship between pupil participation and rights and achievement and attainment.

Also, The Scottish Government supports schools becoming environments in which rights are respected. Each school should have the flexibility to determine how to do this. Our priority is to ensure that children and young people learn and understand their rights – in doing so we support the use of different approaches. We welcome UNICEF's 'Rights Respecting Schools' accreditation scheme as one method to promote rights education, however we are aware some local authorities have already established their own approaches. Education Scotland's 'Recognising and Realising Children's Rights is a professional learning resource to promote self-evaluation and improvement planning.

Learning together: Scotland's National Action Plan on Parental Involvement, Parental Engagement, Family Learning and Learning at Home 2018-21,is a joint 3 year plan between Scottish Government and COSLA which has had detailed input by the National Parent Forum of Scotland. It provides a national vision for parental involvement and engagement but allows for local and community innovation and flexibility. It covers the journey that a child takes from pre-birth to age 18. It takes account of the national and international evidence base as well as policy and practice expertise across the Scottish education system. Importantly, it highlights the leadership of those who make the difference day in and day out: parents and families, teachers, headteachers, managers and professionals. This plan is based on the guiding aim of Getting it Right for Every Child. It is informed by the central role of the family, whatever form that may take. The theme that lies at the heart of this plan is relationships - relationships based on trust, mutual respect and collaboration.

The 15-24 Learner Journey Review was published in May 2018 and makes 17 recommendations on how to improve learner pathways for all young people. The recommendations fall into 5 key priorities: Support, Provision, Alignment, Leadership and Performance. As part of recommendation 4 there is a specific focus on helping young people from gypsy-traveller communities to receive appropriate and consistent access to support that meets their needs at different times throughout their pathway.

Developing a positive whole-school ethos and culture – Relationships, Learning and Behaviour outlines policy guidance in response to the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research conducted in 2016. The Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools ( SAGRABIS) have identified the next steps, outcomes and priority actions to support local authorities, establishments, practitioners and partners to further improve. This is central to the successful delivery of Curriculum for Excellence, implementation of Getting it Right for Every Child and the aspirations of the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the National Improvement Framework.

Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1: Attendance in Scottish Schools sets out national policy around attendance and absence [due for review late 2018]. In addition to the classification of attendance and absence, this guidance seeks to explore and address wider issues around the promotion and management of good attendance and the prevention and reduction of absence. The guidance recognises that school communities are diverse, and that Traveller children may require authorised absence to travel as part of their tradition, family connections or work commitments.

Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions has a fundamental role to play in helping realise the Scottish Government's vision for all children and young people by supporting those who are at risk of becoming disengaged or excluded from education. It recognises that children and young people need to be included, engaged and involved in their education in order to achieve equity and attainment for all. The guidance was revised in 2017.

Respect for All - The National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland's Children and Young Peopleoutlines the Scottish Governmentapproach to all types of bullying – including prejudice-based bullying. The National Approach was refreshed in 2017 in recognition of the changing policy and legislative landscape, including the increased emphasis on the responsibility of those working with children and young people to support those with a protected characteristic.

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW), Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy, published in December 2014. It sets out the Scottish Government's plans to implement the recommendations from the Commission for Developing Scotland's Young Workforce to reduce youth unemployment. The third annual progress report on the implementation of the recommendations, published in January 2018, includes information on progress in equalities.

The Career Education Standard (3-18) was published in September in 2015. The policy is for an all age careers service in Scotland which is delivered locally and co-ordinated nationally. It sets out the entitlements and expectations every young person in Scotland should expect ot receive in terms of careers information advice and guidance. Skills Development Scotland are the national agency responsible for the delivery of career information, advice and guidance and they work with regional partners to shape and provide the services that people need in their local area.

Opportunities for All sets out Scottish Government's explicit commitment to 16-19 year olds not already in education, training or employment, of an offer of an appropriate place in learning or training, to develop the skills they need to get a job. It builds on the post-school transition planning and offer process already in place for young people moving on from school. Delivered in partnership by Local Authorities, with national and local Third Sector partners, the aim is to identify and re-engage young people who are not participating in learning, training or employment in order to support them to plan for their move, beyond school and subsequent learning and training opportunities up until their 20th birthday. Activity Agreements are core element of this policy.

Learning for Sustainability is an approach to life and learning which enables learners, educators, schools and their wider communities to build a socially-just, sustainable and equitable society. It incorporates three main aspects: sustainable development education, global citizenship and outdoor learning. In March 2013 Scottish Ministers accepted all thirty-one recommendations of the Learning for Sustainability (LfS) report. The report called for every school and centre to develop a coherent, whole school approach that impacts on their establishment's culture, curriculum and campus and connects them fully to their wider communities. The 2013 Report was followed in 2016 by the Vision 2030+ Report which contains a set of recommendations intended to help realise the vision of every learner receiving their entitlement to LfS, every practitioner demonstrating LfS in their practice and every establishment having a whole school and community approach to LfS. Education Scotland have developed a Learning for Sustainability (LfS) self-evaluation and improvement framework which is closely aligned with How Good Is Our School 4.

Race Equality work - The Race Equality Framework for Scotland sets out the Scottish Government's approach, over a fifteen year period from 2016 to 2030, to promoting race equality and tackling racism and inequality. It sets out how the barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities from realising their potential will be addressed. In relation to Gypsy/Travellers specifically, in spring/ summer 2017 Scottish Government officials engaged directly with members of the Gypsy/Traveller community by visiting a number of sites in parts of Scotland. The Race Equality Action Plan, published at the end of 2017, includes specific Scottish Government-led activities for Gypsy/Travellers. A Gypsy/Traveller Strategic Programme of Work will follow which will bring together all the relevant Scottish Government policies aimed at improving outcomes for the community.


Email: Lynne Carter

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