Pregnancy and parenthood in young people: second progress report

Update on actions within the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy.

Strand 2: Giving Young People More Control

A key aim of the Pregnancy and Parenthood in Young People Strategy is to enable and empower young people so that they feel a sense of control over their own lives, allowing them to build self-efficacy and providing equality of opportunity for the future - and particularly in relation to the impact this has for choices around pregnancy and parenthood.

The following section sets out the work taking place nationally to empower young people in their decisions around pregnancy and parenthood.

Positive Outcomes and Educational Engagement

Closing the Attainment Gap

Evidence shows that education and engagement with learning are key interventions which help young people to plan for their future - including pregnancy and parenthood. Poor attendance at school, low attainment or achievement, few or no aspirations and free school meals entitlement are key indicators for risk of teenage pregnancy.[5]

The Scottish Government has prioritised young people's attainment and in 2018/19 committed a total of £179 million to contribute to the commitment to allocate £750m during the course of this Parliament to tackle the attainment gap, targeting resources at the children, schools and communities most in need. This investment will have a real impact on engaging young people with education and learning, providing a key intervention for reducing the risk of pregnancy at a young age.

Supporting Positive Relationships and Sexual Wellbeing

Ensuring the sexual health and wellbeing of all Scotland's young people is essential not only to reduce the risk of pregnancy at a young age, but also to support mutually respectful and consensual relationships.

A number of work streams from across Government are working to support young people in this area.

Key Messages for Young People on Healthy Relationships and Consent

Action 2.1 Develop key messaging to promote understanding of consent and healthy relationships in young people.

A short life expert working group worked to develop the 'Key Messages for Young People on Healthy Relationships and Consent'. The resource, which is for professionals working with young people, has now been published at[6].

To communicate these messages to young people, and to provide additional information and advice on healthy relationships and consent, an online resource for young people is being developed in partnership with Young Scot. This resource will make links with numerous topics which impact on healthy relationships and consent from mental health to sexual health.

Following on from the publication of key messages for young people, work has commenced on the development of age and stage appropriate key messages on healthy relationships and consent for professionals caring for and educating early stage and primary aged children.

Next Steps: We will be taking forward work on the development of age and stage appropriate key messages on healthy relationships and consent for professionals caring for and educating early stage and primary aged children.

Supporting young people with learning disabilities

PPYP Priority Workstream: Supporting young people with learning disabilities and other significant communication difficulties around healthy and safe relationships (including reproductive health choices).

The PPYP Strategy Steering Group identified that some young people with mild - moderate learning disabilities may need more support to achieve healthy relationships and for empowerment around reproductive health choices.

A small expert group was convened to discuss this work stream. The group felt that this issue is important to all young people with learning disabilities and other significant communication difficulties. In light of this, we are working with colleagues in Learning Disability policy under the auspices of 'Keys to Life' to consider how best to take this important work forward.

Next Steps: We will work in partnership with the 'Keys to Life' to support young people with learning disabilities and other significant communication difficulties around healthy and safe relationships.

Expert Group for Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People

The Expert Group was established in order to identify fresh actions to better prevent sexual crime involving children and young people, both as victims and perpetrators, in order to mitigate the harm it causes. Whilst undertaking its work, the Group considered a range of perspectives, including public health and gendered analysis approaches, in line with the Equally Safe programme. The Group's report is currently being finalised.

Equally Safe

The Scottish Government, through the auspices of Equally Safe, is funding the expansion of the Rape Crisis Sexual Violence Prevention Programme to secondary schools in all 32 local authorities. The programme aims to provide consistency in approaches to the prevention of sexual violence and contributes to Equally Safe in its aim to address the systematic inequality, attitudes and assumptions that give rise to violence and abusive behaviour.

The programme delivers modules that cover gender, consent, sexual violence and how it can be prevented, sexualisation and pornography, social media, the impact of sexual violence and how to access support.

Equally Safe is also supporting Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance to develop and pilot a 'whole schools approach' to tackling gender based violence. The pilot will be evaluated by the University of Glasgow.

Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities are adapting and adopting the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit (launched in 2018). The Ministerial Letter of Guidance to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the subsequent Outcome Agreement Guidance from the SFC to institutions expects them to adopt a Gendered Analysis, assess their own policies and practices against the Toolkit and put measures in place to keep students safe and engaged with their studies while meeting the needs and diversity of survivors.

Action is being driven forward by the Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities Working Group, whose membership includes, Universities Scotland, Colleges Scotland, NUS Scotland, Police Scotland, Scottish Women's Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and the Emily Test Campaign. Key achievements over the last year include:

  • Universities Scotland taking the lead in development Gender Based Violence (GBV) Support Cards and supporting materials for use by university and college staff to support students which means that now every member of staff in a college and university in Scotland will know where to get help for someone who discloses any form of gender based violence ( and in the development of the GBV and Mental Health Support Stickers. These list national and confidential support services for people within a college or university setting experiencing Gender Based Violence and/or mental health issues. It is intended that the Stickers will be displayed in toilet facilities, communal areas, student accommodation, student unions and other spaces.
  • The completion of three regional events for all colleges and universities to distil learning from Fresher's Weeks and start of college year activities to inform future awareness work, local collaboration and increase awareness and understanding of the Tool Kit. A resource for colleges and universities will be made available over the summer of 2019.
  • Universities Scotland are leading work to review the current Student Misconduct Guidelines.
  • A Community of Practice, hosted on 'Khub', has now been established.

Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) Education

Provision of RSHP education is acknowledged as a key intervention to support positive relationships in young people and reduce rates of pregnancy in young people. Work is ongoing to provide comprehensive RSHP education to children and young people that reflects their needs and the world they are living in.

RSHP Teaching Guidance

Following recommendations of the LGBTI Inclusive Education Working Group, in November 2018, and the Review of Personal and Social Education, in January 2019, the Scottish Government is committed to reviewing and updating the statutory teaching guidance on RSHP education. The review will see the 2014 teaching guidance revised so it includes key issues affecting children and young people in school including LGBT inclusion, sexual harassment, consent and healthy relationships.

RSHP education 3-18 Resource

A partnership of NHS Boards and Local Authorities is leading the development of an online RSHP teaching resource. It will deliver a new RSHP teaching resource for 3-18 years in line with Curriculum for Excellence and other national policy guidance. The resource is designed to fill gaps in teaching resources highlighted by teachers and pupils. The final resource and all additional outputs will be available for the beginning of the academic year 2019/20.

Personal and Social Education (PSE) Review

In the Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027, the Scottish Government committed to a review of Personal and Social Education (PSE), which incorporates RSHP education. The review process included asking professionals and young people how the issue of sexual consent is taught within RSHP education from early learning through all levels of school education - in an age and stage appropriate way - from a young age. The final PSE report and accompanying suite of recommendations was published in January 2019

Sexual and Reproductive Health Services

The PPYP Strategy notes the importance of access to high-quality sexual health services and the provision of effective contraception.

Research into young people's attitudes towards condoms and contraception

Action 2.3 Demonstrate how young people are aware of their rights and how they are acting on them.

The PPYP Team is working in partnership with three NHS Boards[7] to conduct research into young people's attitudes towards condoms and contraception. This links to Action 2.3 in the Strategy, to ensure young people understand their rights in relation to accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

It is intended that this research will not only inform the development of sexual health services that meet the expressed needs of young people in Scotland, but also help us to understand how we can best provide the information and resources that young people require.

The findings will be published in summer 2020.



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