Our aim is to make Scotland the best place to grow up and our policies are designed to give all our children the best possible start in life. Combined with the defining mission of this Government to deliver excellence and equity in Scottish education, I am certain we can work together to raise the bar for all our children and young people and close the attainment gap.
Every child has the right to grow up fully included in their learning experience and to be treated with respect. A positive school ethos and culture is essential to developing good relationships and positive behaviour in the classroom, playground and wider community. If we are to see improvements for children and young people then we must all work together to promote positive relationships and to foster a strong ethos in every school in Scotland. In order to create this environment for effective learning and teaching there should be a shared understanding of wellbeing, underpinned by children’s rights, and a focus on positive relationships across the whole school community.
We know that lower levels of attendance can have an adverse impact on a young person’s level of participation, attainment and ultimately future opportunities; it is therefore vital that schools do all they can to promote and ensure good attendance for all of our children and young people.
For every child or young person to achieve their potential, all schools should consider each pupil’s positive engagement with learning and their level of involvement in the school community. The Scottish policy context allows greater flexibility for professionals to develop creative approaches to enthusing and engaging learners, and for developing effective responses to the learning needs of their pupils.
This refreshed guidance gives a stronger focus on approaches that can be used to ensure that attendance at school is clearly linked to the overall approaches to promoting positive relationships and behaviour and ensuring all children and young people are included, engaged and involved in their education.
In the 11 years since Included, Engaged and Involved: Part 1 was published, we now understand more about the importance of schools working with children and young people and their families and the measures that can be taken to ensure our children and young people can attend school, and ultimately realise their full potential.
In updating this guidance we have worked closely with key partners and stakeholders, many of whom work directly with our young people to ensure that the key messages in this guidance are both up to date and relevant and I hope this guidance will be a useful and practical resource for teachers and practitioners working with children and young people. Its importance should be recognised in the context of our shared ambition to raise attainment for all, close the attainment gap and ensure that the focus on children and young people’s wellbeing is given the importance it deserves. None of this can be achieved without good attendance at school.
John Swinney MSP
Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills