Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland - action plan: progress report 2020

The Report sets out progress made in taking forward the actions in the Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: An Action Plan 2018 to 2021 since November 2019.

Strategic Approach to Participation

We will develop a strategic approach to children and young people’s participation, as part of the Year of Young People (YOYP) legacy.
Our aim is to mainstream the participation of children and young people in decision-making across Scottish society.

We are also continuing to develop the strategic approach to participation. As part of this work, four working groups – Strategic, Resource, Access and Research – are being established to help develop the strategic approach. Volunteers from the third sector, local government, health and academia are working in partnership with the Scottish Government to take this agenda forward.

The Research Group was convened in early 2019, with a remit to consider the evidence base of existing guidance and research on the participation of children and young people in decision-making and to identify practice examples and policy areas that have consulted with children and young people. In early March 2020, the ‘Decision-making: children and young people’s participation’ webpages, developed by the Research Group, went live on the Scottish Government’s website. The new resource includes practice examples from projects, programmes and policies in Scotland; published reports capturing the views of children and young people; and publicly available research reports and papers on children and young people’s participation in decision-making.

The Access Working Group was established to consider how best to support and promote wider engagement with children and young people so they can participate in decision-making, and will look at the methods that might be best utilised - including digital media. The Group had its first meeting on 8 October 2019. During January and February 2020, a survey was issued to gather views on how stakeholders work with children and young people to support their participation in decision-making, and to identify barriers respondents have experienced or witnessed that hinder this engagement. The survey received 451 responses. Young Scot facilitated two sessions with a number of children and young people from the #ActivateYourRights cohort via Zoom in April 2020. This was used to gain insight into their digital engagement experience as a result of the COVID-19 Lockdown. Findings will be used to inform the work of the Access Working Group. 

As with other areas of work across the Government, activity on participation has been adapted and re-directed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In these unprecedented times, Scottish Ministers remain committed to ensuring that children and young people are at the heart of decisions which affect them. We want our young people to have the confidence and skills to influence decisions around them, including how we learn and recover from COVID-19. In May 2020, the Scottish Government established a COVID-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group to review regular intelligence on the impact of the pandemic with a focus on children, young people and families experiencing vulnerabilities. The Leadership Group works to identify issues requiring action and to provide local and national leadership in delivering a response. The membership and work of the Group is discussed in more detail in the COVID-19 section of this report. In June 2020, the Scottish Government established an Advisory Group to support the work of the Leadership Group and ensure that those children and young people considered most vulnerable during the pandemic are able to share their lived experiences and participate in solution-based discussions. 

Additionally, in partnership with Young Scot, we have supported a quick fire Q&A session on the pandemic with both the First Minister and Jason Leitch, Clinical Director, which was filmed and broadcast for young people on 23 March 2020. The First Minister subsequently filmed a further Q&A session with Young Scot on 29 April 2020.

The Scottish Youth Parliament, in partnership with Young Scot and YouthLink Scotland, delivered “Lockdown Lowdown”, an online survey developed by young people for young people, to help identify what they need from the Scottish Government, the NHS, COSLA, local authorities and others during the initial COVID-19 lockdown. The reports from the survey have been shared widely with Scottish Government officials and will inform ongoing policy development, and the work of the Advisory Group as it captures the lived experiences of children, young people and families.

A follow-up survey, funded by the Scottish Government, launched on 28 September 2020, with a further survey scheduled to take place in early 2021. The second survey process also featured focus groups, which ran from mid-October 2020 for 5 weeks. The focus groups heard about the lived experiences of the pandemic for groups of children and young people from a range of backgrounds, exploring themes and other relevant insights from the surveys along with issues which are particularly pertinent to these groups. The groups included were: 

  • Young carers; 
  • BME young people; 
  • Disabled young people; 
  • Young people with experience of custody and/or the criminal justice system; and 
  • Care experienced young people.

The Children’s Parliament has also been supported by the Scottish Government to develop a number of approaches to hearing the lived experiences of children, young people and their families during the pandemic. Using pre-validated questions, the survey ‘How are you doing?’, which took place from April to June 2020, received responses from children aged 8 to 14 years old on their experiences during this period. A further survey was conducted in September to capture children’s views as they returned to school. The findings from the survey will be published.

Alongside the surveys, Members of the Children’s Parliament have been writing blog articles about their experiences. These are published in the Corona Times Journal on the Children’s Parliament website. The Children’s Parliament has also been gathering through direct engagement, the views and lived experiences of 15 families who have a child aged 3 to 7 years old living at home. Through digital interviews, the Children’s Parliament were able to capture insights of the families’ experiences during lockdown and the return to education in autumn. 

With reference to education, funding is now in place and recruitment is underway for the Education Recovery Youth Panel. Young Scot, supported by Children in Scotland, will recruit and support a panel of approximately 15 young learners, aged 9 to 18 years old (primary 5 – secondary 6) from across Scotland. The Panel’s aim is to ensure that learners themselves help develop the response and recovery of the education system. The Panel will help shape the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 education recovery work, ensuring young people from a range of backgrounds and experiences are included in the coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery plans for education. The panel will help to raise key issues that are important to learners, and the Scottish Government will ensure that those issues are highlighted to the COVID-19 Education Recovery Group (CERG).

The Scottish Government has also worked with the Scottish Youth Parliament to identify and support a young person to join the CERG itself. Liam Fowley MSYP, the new SYP vice chair, will sit on the Group to gather, represent and directly feedback the voices and views of children and young people. Liam will also be supported to connect the discussions at the CERG with the work of the Education Recovery Youth Panel. 

The Deputy First Minister (DFM) met with a group of young people on 1 October 2020 to discuss future decisions concerning the 2020-21 assessment approach and exam diet and what can be done to ensure that work undertaken this year by learners is fairly accredited. This followed similar conversations the DFM held with learners in September 2020 following the downgrading of SQA awards and in June 2020 during the period of school closures where DFM listened and acted on the feedback from young people regarding their experiences of remote learning. 

The Marketing and Insights Unit has been developing an information toolkit for schools to help explain the guidance and encourage compliance with restrictions amongst 12-17 year olds. Working in partnership with Young Scot’s Health panel, they were able to identify insights and obtain guidance on messages that would engage and motivate young people. 



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