Progressing the human rights of children in Scotland: 2018 report

The report sets out the progress made in relation to children's rights since June 2015.

7. Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities

Relevant UNCRC Articles: 28, 29, 30, and 31

This cluster group provides for: the right of all children to an education that will help them to achieve their potential, without discrimination; and the right to play and leisure and to participate in cultural life and the arts.


7.1 Education Estate

The Scottish Government has continued to invest in the school estate, through the £1.8bn Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme, which will see the construction or refurbishment of 117 schools and will benefit over 60,000 pupils by March 2020. This is a shared funding programme with the Scottish Government providing £1.13bn and local authorities contributing £665m. Its principle objective is to replace the worst condition schools throughout the country. At least one new school project is being delivered in every local authority area in Scotland.

In November 2017, Scottish Ministers announced the intention to build upon the success of the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme and develop Scotland’s Learning Estate Strategy/Investment Plan. On 21 November, the Deputy First Minister announced that the Scottish Government will invest a further £1 billion in building and refurbishing schools across Scotland. The fund will deliver digitally enabled, low-carbon schools and campuses, providing benefits to pupils and the local economy. The design of schools will ensure they are inclusive and welcoming places that meet the needs of all who use them. It will maintain the principle of ‘augment not replace’ established through the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme by being in addition to already planned local authority investment.

7.2 Education Workforce

The quality of the teaching profession is a vital factor in improving children’s learning and outcomes. Having the right number of high quality teachers is key to achieving excellence and equity for all. However, it is clear that local authorities are now finding teacher recruitment increasingly challenging in many parts of Scotland, particularly in remote, rural areas and in the north east of Scotland, and in some secondary subjects, including STEM.

The Scottish Government is taking a number of actions to address teacher shortages, including through committing £88m in the 2018-19 local government settlement to ensure every school has access to the right number of teachers. The Scottish Government is also supporting universities in developing new and innovative routes into teaching, as well as creating further opportunities to attract high quality graduates in priority areas and subjects. Bursaries of up to £20,000 have also been announced for people changing career to train to become a teacher in a STEM subject. The Scottish Government will continue to work to ensure the availability of teachers with the right skills in locations across Scotland, through the annual teacher workforce planning process.

7.3 Raising Attainment and Closing the Attainment Gap

“Learning should be creative and fun! Schools should be safe places where our human dignity is always respected.”

Member of the Children’s Parliament, Rights Event, 2018

The National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan for Scottish Education is designed to help all children to achieve their full potential as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. The Framework, which was developed in consultation with children and young people, sets out how evidence is gathered to inform actions, ensuring that these are focused on improving standards in schools and outcomes for all children. The Framework also sets out the Government’s key priorities for education: raising attainment for all, particularly in numeracy and literacy; closing the poverty-related attainment gap; improving children and young people’s health and wellbeing; and achieving improvement in employability skills and sustained, positive school-leaver destinations for all young people.

Scottish Ministers have a statutory duty to plan, publish and review the Framework each year. The Scottish Government will review the 2018 National Improvement Framework and produce an Evidence Dashboard which will bring together available current evidence on achievement, attainment, health and wellbeing, and the wider education system, with a specific focus on differences between children living in the most deprived and least deprived areas. The 2019 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan, together with the Evidence Dashboard, will be published in December 2018.

The Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched in 2015. Backed by a commitment of £750m over the course of this parliament, it prioritises improvements in literacy, numeracy, health and wellbeing of those children adversely affected by the poverty-related attainment gap in Scotland’s primary and secondary schools.

Support from the Attainment Scotland Fund was rolled out initially to local authorities (Challenge Authorities) with the greatest concentration of primary-age children living in SIMD 1 and 2 and 57 primary schools outwith the Challenge Authorities. Funding from the Schools Programme was then extended to include 28 secondary schools associated with primary schools receiving funding through this initiative. From 2017-18, Pupil Equity Funding (PEF) extended the reach of the Scottish Attainment Challenge to every local authority with £120m allocated to 95% of schools in Scotland[91] on top of the existing £50m Attainment Scotland Funding.

PEF allocations are based on the number of pupils from P1 to S3 known to be eligible for free school meals, with schools receiving £1,200 per pupil. This funding is provided directly to head teachers for them to use to close the attainment gap.[92]

In 2018-19, £120m of PEF is again being provided directly to head teachers and £50m is being provided to continue the Challenge Authorities (£43m) and Schools Programmes (£7m) for a fourth year. In addition to this, £33m will be made available over 3 years to specifically support educational attainment for care-experienced young people, helping to provide additional targeted initiatives, activities, and resources. This will equate to £8.2m for the remainder of 2018-19 and £12.25m in each of the subsequent 2 years.

The Evaluation of the Attainment Scotland Fund Interim Report (Years 1 and 2), (March 2018) updated on the progress being achieved through the Fund, which was found to be a driver for change and cohesion. The Evaluation suggested that, as a result of the Fund, there was an increased awareness, understanding and commitment to address the impact of poverty on attainment across local authorities and schools. Funding was perceived as adequate, reasonable and fair, with most interventions focusing on the 3 priority areas of numeracy, literacy and health and wellbeing.

7.4 Additional Support for Learning

Scottish Ministers want all children and young people to get the support they need to reach their full learning potential, with a system which focuses on overcoming barriers to learning and Getting it right for every child.

Education authorities and other agencies have duties under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils. An additional support need can arise for any reason and be of short, or long-term duration. Additional support may be required to overcome needs arising from the learning environment, health or disability, family circumstances or social and emotional factors, etc. This includes, for example, Gypsy/Travellers, highly able pupils, asylum seeking/refugee children and Service children (children from Armed Forces families).

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 places additional responsibilities on Scottish Ministers and local authorities to have regard to the need to reduce inequalities of outcomes arising out of socio-economic disadvantage, when exercising their functions relating to school education.

In January 2018, changes were made to the Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act 2004, which extended the age range of some of the provisions, so that they now cover children aged 12-15, as well as young people and parents. This means that children can now: ask for their additional support needs to be identified and planned for; receive advice and information about their additional support needs; be part of discussions about the support that they will receive; and access dispute resolution procedures to resolve concerns. To support children to use their rights, the Scottish Government has established a children’s service, My Rights, My Say. This service provides advice and information, advocacy, legal representation and a service to independently seek children’s views.

The views of children and young people informed the development of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 and a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament was involved in the process to secure a provider for the children’s service. The Scottish Government will review the implementation of additional support for learning provisions on children’s rights in 2019. The Scottish Government will also report on the implementation of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended) as a whole, including children’s rights, in spring 2019.

The PfG 2018-19 contains commitments to support the implementation of additional support for learning and confirms the Scottish Government’s aim for all children and young people to get the support they need to reach their full learning potential. The Scottish Government will work with local government towards:

  • Improving consistency of support across Scotland, through improved guidance;
  • building further capacity to deliver effective additional support; and
  • improving career pathways and professional development, including new free training resources for school staff on inclusive practices.

The majority (95%) of children and young people with additional support needs learn in mainstream schools. The Scottish Government consulted on guidance on the presumption to mainstream education between November 2017 and February 2018.[93] An analysis of the responses to the consultation was published in June 2018.[94] The final guidance, which will be published in early 2019, will support authorities with their decisions about where children and young people with additional support needs should learn and will restate and reframe the necessity of inclusion in Scottish schools. The Scottish Government also commissioned independent research on the experiences of children and young people with additional support needs in mainstream and special schools, their families and those who provide them with support. The research report will be published shortly.

In addition to this, Education Scotland has developed an inclusive practice resource for those practitioners working with additional support needs in schools which will also support improved inclusive practice across Scotland.[95]

Support for Children and Young People with Disabilities

There are legal requirements for local authorities to provide adequate education to all children. The Equality Act requires schools to actively deal with inequality, and to prevent direct and indirect disability discrimination. In addition, schools have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils and provide assistance and services, such as communication tools and support staff. All educational bodies have duties to develop and publish accessibility strategies to increase pupils’ access to the curriculum, access to the physical environment and to improve communication with pupils with disabilities. In support of the implementation of these duties, the Scottish Government published revised guidance on accessibility strategies in 2014.[96]

In response to recommendations of the Doran Review[97], a National Commissioning Group was also established to develop a 10 year strategy for strategically commissioned national services. Scotland’s Ten Year Strategy for the Learning Provision for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs 2017-2026 was the subject of a public consultation between June 2017 and August 2017.[98] The outcomes from that consultation will be published by the end of January 2019.

The Scottish Government has also launched a refreshed dyslexia toolkit to support those working with pupils with dyslexia to ensure effective identification and support.[99] In addition, to further support those working with pupils with autism in schools, the Scottish Government has funded the development and publication of the Autism Toolbox.[100] This online national tool provides information to support the identification, support and planning of learning for pupils with autism. The Toolbox provides a forum for continually updating and disseminating good practice.

Since the publication of the Education and Skills Committee report on the attainment of pupils with a sensory impairment, Scottish Ministers have written to the Committee to provide clarification on a number of aspects relating to these recommendations, where this has been sought.[101] Following the publication of the report, the Scottish Government has prepared a Work Plan to respond to these recommendations and in March 2018 provided an update to the Education Committee for information. This update included the research that was undertaken into the number of qualified Teachers of the Deaf (ToD) and Qualified Teachers of the Visually Impaired (QTVI) and the level of qualifications held by these teachers.

The Scottish Government has also recently published revised guidance for schools and education authorities on Supporting Children and Young People with Healthcare Needs in Schools (2017). Refreshed statutory guidance on additional support for learning Supporting Children’s Learning Code of Practice was also published in 2017.

Support for Particular Groups of Children and Young People

The Scottish Government continues to take forward measures to ensure that groups of children and young people who may share a particular need for support, have their needs met.

The Scottish Government has developed and consulted on guidance to assist schools and local authorities to support children and young people from travelling cultures and their families to engage in school education. The guidance, Improving educational outcomes for children and young people from travelling cultures (December 2018), aims to support greater understanding of the issues affecting learning and learning outcomes of Travellers in Scotland and to provide guidance on how barriers might be overcome. In May 2018, a Ministerial Working Group on Gypsy/Travellers met to consider approaches to supporting education and asked that the guidance be expanded beyond schools.

To complement the guidance, as part of the PfG 2018-19, the Scottish Government announced additional funding of £275,000 to support and share best practice in delivering education to Gypsy/Traveller families for all ages and stages. This work will be led by the Scottish Traveller Education Project, which the Scottish Government already supports, and will help improve delivery of education within existing systems, and embed/systematise effective approaches across Scotland. This will also create a stronger platform for the delivery of flexible family learning announced in the Child Poverty Delivery Plan, which will be funded from the Social Justice budget (£0.5m over the period 2018-22).

The Scottish Service Children Strategy Group works with stakeholders to raise awareness of Service children and their families and to support schools and local authorities to meet their particular needs. The 2017 Supporting Children’s Learning Code of Practice incorporated specific references to Service children to reiterate their potential need for additional support.

The Scottish Government also continues to support the work of the Scottish Network for Able Pupils. The Network offers support and advice to practitioners and parents to ensure that, through inclusive practice, children of high ability receive the additional support they need to reach their potential.

An education authority has a duty under Section 1 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 (the 1980 Act) to secure adequate and efficient provision of education in their area, regardless of whether the children are nationals of the UK or some other state. The Scottish Government’s additional support for learning policy and legislation ensures that groups of children and young people who might be particularly vulnerable, such as refugees and asylum seeking children and young people, are supported and included in Scottish schools. The OECD report Improving Schools in Scotland: An OECD Perspective (2015), observed that “Scottish schools do very well on measures of social inclusion and mix … Scottish immigrant students achieve at higher levels than their non-immigrant peers, and Scotland enjoys one of the smallest proportions of low performers among its immigrant students.”

The Scottish Government supports the right of parents to choose to home educate their children. Section 30 of the 1980 Act places a duty on the parents of every child of school age to provide an efficient education suitable for the age, ability and aptitude of the child, whether that be in a local authority school or by other means. This permits parents to choose to home educate their children. If a parent wishes to withdraw their child from education being provided by their local authority, they must seek, in accordance with Section 35 of the 1980 Act, the authority’s consent before doing so. As part of that process for withdrawing their child, parents are expected to outline their initial proposals for how they intend to provide an efficient and suitable education for their child. In granting consent, the authority has a duty to ensure that a suitable education is being delivered.

The Scottish Government encourages local authorities and home-educating parents to work together to develop trust, mutual respect and a positive relationship in the best educational interests of the child. The Scottish Government has published Home Education Guidance[102], which sets out the legal position and provides advice on the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and parents in relation to children who are home educated.

7.5 Anti-Bullying

“Schools and local authorities should give teachers comprehensive training on how to combat all bullying, including LGBTI+ bullying, in schools.”

John, MSYP, Rights Review Event, 2018

The refreshed Respect for All: The National Approach to Anti-bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People, for all those working with children and young people, was published in November 2017. The approach sets out a common vision and aims to make sure that work across all agencies and communities is consistently and coherently contributing to a whole school approach to anti-bullying in Scotland. The refreshed guidance seeks to ensure that bullying of all types, including racist, homophobic and abusive behaviour, is recorded accurately and monitored effectively. A working group was established to develop a consistent and uniform approach to recording and monitoring incidents of bullying in schools. An Operational Support Group is now supporting local authorities to implement the new process on a phased approach. This will be fully implemented by August 2019.

Joint training events, led by the Scottish Government, Education Scotland and respectme, the national anti-bullying service, were held in early 2018 to assist in the implementation of ‘Respect for All’. Training events have also taken place with Independent Schools. Additional LGBT guidance, Addressing Inclusion: Effectively Challenging Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, has also been published to complement Respect for All. This provides information and guidance to school staff on addressing homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in Scottish schools.

The Scottish Government continues to fully fund respectme (£298,000 in 2018-19), the national anti-bullying service, to build confidence and capacity to address bullying effectively, aligned to the National Approach. Funding continues to be provided to ChildLine (NSPCC) to provide a helpline providing confidential advice and information to children and young people affected by issues including bullying.

7.6 Exclusion

The number of exclusions from Scottish schools has been falling year-on-year since 2006-07. Over 99% of all exclusions are for a fixed period of time. In a small number of cases, 5 in 2016-17, an excluded pupil is ‘removed from the register’. When this occurs, a pupil does not return to their original school and will be educated at another school or in some other educational provision.[103]

The refreshed Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing and preventing school exclusions (IEI2) (2017), makes clear that exclusion is a last resort which should be used within an overall strategy of prevention, early intervention and promoting positive relationships and behaviour in schools. To assist with the implementation of the refreshed guidance, the Scottish Government and Education Scotland organised a series of implementation workshops, which were attended by over 400 stakeholders across the country. The Pupil Inclusion Network Scotland have also published leaflets to help parents whose children may have been excluded from school.

When considering exclusion, the guidance states it is important to take the child or young person’s views into account and the views of their parents. The refreshed guidance also states that all exclusions from school must be formally recorded and children or young people cannot be ‘informally excluded’ or sent home from school to ‘cool off’. The school must notify the pupil and/or parent in writing of the reasons for their exclusion and provide details of how to appeal against an exclusion. The right of appeal against exclusion is provided for in legislation, under both the Education (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000.

Under section 14(3) of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980[104], a child or young person still has the right to receive education during a period of exclusion from school. This legislation places a duty on education authorities, without undue delay, to: provide school education for the excluded pupil in a school managed by them; make arrangements for the excluded pupil to receive such education in any other school, the managers of which are willing to take the excluded pupil; or make special arrangements for the excluded pupil to receive education at a place other than at an educational establishment (this could include in a library or community centre, or at home).

Where a child or young person has additional support needs, any decision to exclude them must take into account the local authority’s duties under both the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended)[105] and the Equality Act 2010.[106] The 2004 Act also provides that the education authority must take all reasonable steps to ensure that appropriate provision can be made to meet the child or young person’s additional support needs during the period of exclusion.

Promoting Attendance at School

Non-attendance at school and non-engagement with learning significantly increases the likelihood of young people leaving school and not going on to further education, employment or training. Some young people face barriers entirely beyond their control which prevent them from engaging fully with education. Non-attendance may also be an indicator of issues or difficulties a child or young person is experiencing. The Scottish Government continues to take steps to promote attendance at schools and, alongside key stakeholders, is reviewing the guidance related to school attendance – Included, Engaged and Involved Part 1: Attendance in Scottish Schools. The refreshed guidance will be published in due course.

7.7 Education Reform

On 15 June 2017 the Scottish Government published Education Governance: Next Steps. The paper sets out work to fully deliver bold but necessary reform to Scottish education in order to drive improvement and enable Scotland’s education system to realise excellence and equity for all children and young people.

The primary focus of these reforms is to shape an education system that is school and teacher led with children at the centre, putting schools more in control of the important decisions that affect learning. As announced in June 2018, rather than waiting for new legislation, the Scottish Government is fast-tracking these reforms through an Education Bill Policy Ambition – Joint Agreement between the Scottish Government and COSLA.

These reforms will also ensure that schools have access to excellent education improvement services, focused on supporting head teachers and teachers in securing improvement in their schools. This ambition is supported through the creation and continued development of new Regional Improvement Collaborative areas, where local authorities and Education Scotland are working together to enhance the provision of high quality curriculum, professional development and improvement support to schools, pupils and practitioners across Scotland. As the PfG 2018-19 confirmed, a new Head Teachers’ Charter, backed by new national guidance, will also be published by the end of 2018, which will put head teachers much more in control of the important decisions on curriculum, staffing and budgets in their schools.

In November 2017, the first ever Scottish Education Council was established to oversee work to improve education. The Council is chaired by the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and brings together young people, education leaders and representatives from local authorities and the teaching profession. The Council is a forum for frank and open discussion about what is working in education and where improvement is required. It also provides advice and guidance and oversees progress implementing improvement priorities.

7.8 Curriculum for Excellence

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) provides the curriculum framework for children and young people aged 3–18 in Scotland. Based on the “four capacities” of the curriculum (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors), Scotland’s curriculum provides a flexible context for rights-based approaches, global citizenship, outdoor learning and skills for life, learning and work. The Scottish Government’s education reform agenda is seeking to support teachers and schools to meet the aspirations of CfE and builds on the recommendations of the OECD and International Council of Education Advisers to strengthen the professional leadership of CfE. Schools and teachers will be backed up by 3 key pillars of support: enhanced career and development opportunities; educational support services from local authorities; and the new Regional Improvement Collaboratives.

A priority for the Collaboratives will be curriculum improvement and providing schools with a more comprehensive and consistent level of support for curriculum than is currently received in some local authority areas. A key focus for this improvement activity will be curriculum development, embedding the key aspects of Scotland’s curriculum, including global citizenship.

Learning for Sustainability

Learning for Sustainability (LfS) is a theme across CfE and an approach to learning within it. LfS brings together sustainable development education, outdoor learning and global citizenship. Through exploration of these topics, learners can build the values, attitudes, knowledge, skills and confidence to engage in the key issues of sustainability, not only in their own communities but also globally. LfS, therefore, provides a valuable context through which learners can engage with matters of social justice and children’s rights. The Scottish Government has accepted all 14 recommendations of the concluding report of the Learning for Sustainability National Implementation Group and, in doing so, has committed to all learners having an entitlement to LfS.

Rights Education

The flexible and child-centred curriculum framework in Scotland provides a sound basis for rights to be developed and supported as part of teaching and learning. There are many aspects of rights-based work which can be included in the curriculum, including making explicit links between learning and the UNCRC articles. Many schools have chosen to support rights-based practice through UNICEF’s Rights Respecting Schools[107], which helps promote awareness of the UNCRC and supports schools to develop a rights based culture and ethos. Over 50% of Scotland’s schools are registered as Rights Respecting Schools and have achieved different levels of awards within this. Education Scotland has also produced Recognising and Realising Children’s Rights, a resource freely available on the National Improvement Hub to support the development of children’s rights in schools and community learning and development organisations. This resource is currently being updated to include more specific guidance on learner participation and to reflect the current context. Education Scotland has also produced ‘Learner Participation in educational settings’ which provides guidance for schools and early learning and childcare centres on embedding learner participation. A number of local authorities and schools have also established their own approaches to rights education.

Gaelic and Scots Education

The Scottish Government is fully committed to allowing choice and has taken steps to ensure that the legislative framework is in place to allow those interested in learning through the medium of Gaelic are afforded the opportunities to access their language choice. There is also the opportunity to learn Gaelic as a language available (Gaelic Learner Education).

The growing demand for Gaelic education has seen an increase from one standalone school in 2007 to 8 in 2018 with further sites in development. The Scottish Government continues to explore all opportunities to expand the workforce and opportunities to enhance access across Scotland, including via digital platforms. There are opportunities to learn the Scots Language in schools across Scotland and the creation of the Scottish Studies educational award has led to an increased interest in the language.

Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) Education (see section 2.2 for detail on work with the TIE Campaign)

RSHP education is an integral part of the health and wellbeing area of the school curriculum in Scotland. The curriculum is not statutory but it is expected that all schools will deliver on this subject in line with the experiences and outcomes detailed in CfE, and it is for local authorities and schools to decide how to deliver the curriculum based on local needs and circumstances. RSHP education is intended to enable children and young people to build positive relationships as they grow older and should present facts in an objective, balanced and sensitive manner within a framework of sound values and an awareness of the law on sexual behaviour.

Learning about RSHP education begins early on in primary school and continues up to S4-S6. Schools will equip young people with information on a wide range of issues, depending on their age and stage. They will be encouraged to discuss these subjects with their peers and parents, to help them gain knowledge, and the skills to become confident in making healthy and safe lifestyle decisions. If parents or carers feel that the content is not appropriate, they can withdraw a primary school-aged child from all, or part of a planned programme of lessons, and arrangements should be made for the child to have alternative positive educational provision.

In 2014, the Scottish Government published guidance on the Conduct of RSHP education in schools that clearly states how important it is that RSHP education addresses diversity and reflects issues relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) young people or children with LGBTI parents.[108]

A partnership group of health boards and local authorities, led by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, commissioned an independent consultancy to deliver a new RSHP web-based teaching resource for 3–18 years in line with CfE and other national policy guidance. The Scottish Government is represented on the Contract Management Group. Informed by the views of children and young people, this new resource will seek to fill emerging gaps such as gender roles at transition from early years to primary and factors that are affecting the lives of young people such as: social media; sexting; online grooming; easier access to pornography; consent; and healthy relationships. A draft version of the learning resource is expected to be produced by late 2018, with the final resource and all additional outputs available by Easter 2019.

Personal and Social Education (PSE) is a key element in pupils’ education. PSE is a taught subject that covers aspects of planning for choices and changes, substance misuse, relationships, sexual health and parenthood, in addition to aspects of physical activity, sport and health. The Scottish Government has commenced a national review of PSE[109] and the role of guidance in local authority schools, and also a review of services for counselling and their evidence base for children and young people. The review, which is expected to conclude by end 2018, will include consideration of the content of PSE programmes for children and young people from 3 to 18 years in Scottish schools and early learning centres.

7.9 Early Learning and Childcare (ELC)

Alongside school-age education, the Scottish Government believes that early learning and childcare (ELC) has a significant role to play in securing positive futures for Scotland’s children. Tackling inequalities early and building the resilience of children, young people and their families will improve educational, health and employment outcomes. Quality is at the heart of plans for the expansion.

The Scottish Government and local government in Scotland are delivering a transformative change in the provision of ELC, almost doubling the funded entitlement from 600 to 1140 hours per year from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and for eligible 2 year olds, and introducing the funding model Funding Follows the Child, underpinned by a National Standard. Together these developments are delivering the Scottish Government’s vision for the expansion (as set out in A Blueprint for 2020), underpinned by 4 principles of quality, flexibility, accessibility and affordability. This vision is shared with local government in Scotland, who are responsible for providing funded ELC to all eligible children in their area. A multi-year funding agreement is in place with local government which fully funds this policy. The expansion is supported by national projects and is overseen by a joint (Scottish Government and local authority) delivery board.

The driving force behind this significant investment is ensuring that all children have an equal chance to succeed. Research demonstrates that the provision of universally accessible and high quality ELC enriches all children with skills and confidence to carry through their learner journey, but particularly those children experiencing the most disadvantage. That is why the expansion of funded ELC is a cornerstone for closing the poverty-related attainment gap.

There is a universal entitlement for all 3 and 4 year olds and a targeted entitlement for around a quarter of 2 year olds – those the Scottish Government believes will benefit most from early access to funded ELC. Those eligible include looked after children, children in families receiving support due to an ongoing asylum claim and children whose family are in receipt of a no or low income ‘qualifying benefit’.

To ensure that ELC expansion will deliver a quality experience for children, in October 2017 the Scottish Government published a Quality Action Plan. This sets out 15 actions that will be taken to further embed and strengthen quality of early learning and childcare in preparation for the expansion to 1140 hours of funded entitlement. By the end of 2018, the Scottish Government will publish a National Standard that all settings delivering the funded ELC hours will be required to meet. At the heart of the National Standard will be a set of quality criteria, that includes requirement around staffing, leadership and management and development of children’s outcomes.

ELC provision must be delivered in a way that ensures equality of access and accounts for the varying needs of all children. Local authorities have a duty (under the CYP Act and the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, (as amended) to provide ELC for all eligible children and assess, provide for and review their additional support needs. The Scottish Government has created a £2m inclusion fund which will run for 4 years and help staff to support children with additional support needs (ASN) or disabilities. This could cover funding for specialist training for ELC staff as well as funding for equipment for adaptations, providing sensory areas, or establishing equipment banks in local areas.

The Scottish Government believes that children receiving ELC must have access to highly qualified staff with expertise in early childhood learning and development. This is particularly true for young children who face the greatest disadvantages where additional support may be needed to deliver on Ministers’ ambition to close the attainment gap. To support this, the Scottish Government is working with local authorities to ensure that nurseries in Scotland’s most deprived areas benefit from an additional graduate (either a teacher or early years graduate with or working towards, for example, the BA in Childhood Practice). This commitment has created 435 new graduate level opportunities across Scotland. The posts have been allocated across authorities based on their share of nurseries in the 20% most deprived postcodes, with each local authority benefitting from at least one new post.

Alongside the commitment to double the funded entitlement, the Scottish Government is trialling a Childcare Deposit Guarantee Scheme to help families with upfront childcare costs. The aim of this is to reduce barriers to affordable ELC, which may help parents who wish to return to work or education. This is open to families who meet the 2 year old eligibility criteria (as outlined above), and additionally for those who are in receipt of any tax credits or any level of universal credit. The pilot local authorities are Glasgow City, City of Edinburgh, and Dumfries and Galloway.

The Children and Young People Improvement Collaborative (CYPIC)[110] seeks to make early years, health, family services and schools more effective and responsive in tackling inequality and improving children’s outcomes. Through the CYPIC, the Scottish Government is supporting local authorities, health boards and third sector organisations to apply quality improvement (QI) to their work. This is helping to improve life chances, close the poverty-related attainment gap and ensure that children and young people receive support for their health, wellbeing and learning wherever they live.

7.10 Resources for Parents to Support Learning

Parents have a vital role in a child’s learning and development throughout their lives. Learning at home can happen through a range of events including play, leisure activities, fun events, sports, trips, cultural or volunteering experiences. It can also happen through curriculum related activities, homework, reading and sharing books.

PlayTalkRead (PTR) is the Scottish Government’s campaign to highlight the importance of playing, talking and reading with children from birth to 3 years old to boost their development. The campaign tours across Scotland, visiting each local authority to take messages of how crucial to a child’s development, playing, talking and reading are in the first 3 years of a child’s life. The project offers practical support and ideas on how to create the best foundations for children’s development. In 2017-18, almost 40,000 children and parents visited a PTR bus. Since 2014-15, Scottish Government has provided almost £4m towards the PTR campaign.

The Scottish Government also funds the Scottish Book Trust Early Years Programme which provides a range of free book packs for every child in Scotland from birth to Primary 1. The Bookbug Outreach Programme is also a Scottish Government-funded initiative, which trains early years professionals to introduce the principles of Bookbug Sessions into the homes of vulnerable families across Scotland. The programme, which has trained over 3,000 early years professionals, is being delivered in all 32 local authorities.

Parental involvement and engagement, family learning and learning in the home also play a key role in supporting children’s attainment and achievement at school, for example, in supporting the development of literacy skills and children’s social and emotional wellbeing. Parental engagement has been identified as one the 6 key ‘drivers’ in Scotland’s National Improvement Framework for education and is a priority in the Scottish Attainment Challenge. The Scottish Government is committed to continuing to strengthen and support parental involvement and engagement in their child’s education. Learning Together: Scotland’s National Action Plan on Parental Involvement, Parental Engagement, Family Learning and Learning at Home 2018 – 2021 (August 2018) contains over 50 actions and sets out a vision for parental involvement and engagement from pre-birth to age 18, including proposals to strengthen statutory guidance and a new equalities fund for parent involvement.

7.11 Support for Play

“Play helps us to be happy, make friends, be more confident and learn new things.”

Member of the Children’s Parliament, Rights Event, 2018

Play is also an essential aspect of early learning. In 2013 the Scottish Government published a National Play Strategy, Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Vision and a supporting action plan Play Strategy for Scotland: Our Action Plan. The Scottish Government’s vision seeks to improve the play experiences of all children and young people, including those with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds. It aims to ensure that all children and young people can access play opportunities in a range of settings which offer variety, adventure and challenge.

In support of the strategy, the Scottish Government published Playing with Quality and Equality: a Review of Inclusive Play in Scotland (2015), which makes recommendations to help the government, local authorities and those involved in community planning ensure equal access to inclusive play services across Scotland. In addition, in November 2015, the Scottish Government launched a book called Play This Way, aimed at all children throughout Scotland aged 8-10 years old. The book seeks to bring to life key elements of the Play Strategy in a way that is relevant and engaging for children and their families. Published in both English and Gaelic, it was distributed in June 2016 to every child in Primary 3, 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Thrive Outdooors (previously Go2Play) is a £4m, 7 year fund delivered by Inspiring Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government. It aims to support the development and expansion of free play in disadvantaged communities across Scotland. In addition, the year-long campaign, ‘Away and Play’, launched in summer 2017, was funded by the Scottish Government and powered by Inspiring Scotland. The campaign highlighted the benefits of free and unstructured play in encouraging imagination, promoting risk-taking, improving health and helping collaboration.

As part of the work of the Play Strategy Implementation Group, the Scottish Government has also established, through Play Scotland, a refreshed Play Council, supporting the play sector to share good practice, and develop its collective capacity to positively influence policy and practice at both local and national levels. A Play Map resource has also been developed to support Community Planning Partnerships to integrate play into local policy and planning.

Outdoor Play

Scottish Government recognises the value and benefits of outdoor play and learning for children and young people and has committed to provide £0.6m of funding over the next 2 years through the Outdoor Learning in Nature Fund for up to 16 projects in nurseries, schools and community groups across Scotland. The projects will work with schools and nurseries to help children from Scotland’s most deprived areas to spend time in nature. As part of the expansion of early learning and childcare, the Scottish Government has also provided £0.86m of funding to Inspiring Scotland to work with 8 local authorities to increase and improve their outdoor learning. In addition, the Scottish Government will continue to invest in Thrive Outdoors Fund, to support the development and expansion of free play in disadvantaged communities across Scotland.

The Scottish Government recently launched Scotland’s National Position Statement on Outdoor Play Based Learning. A coalition of over 50 influential national bodies and organisations have committed to work together to embed playing and learning outdoors as an everyday activity for all children and to celebrate it as a fundamental part of growing up in Scotland.

7.12 Youth Work

The National Youth Work Strategy for Scotland 2014-19 includes a statement on the nature and purpose of youth work, including its role in the delivery of the UNCRC. A Stakeholder Reference Group reviewed the Strategy and, in July 2017 published the national Youth Work Strategy Interim Report. The Group has also worked to review progress of the Strategy’s initial commitments and actions; and has subsequently agreed priorities for 2017-19.[111] Rights and Participation is the second of the 8 priorities focusing on working with Government and partners to progress young people’s rights and participation in decision making. Actions under this priority include:

  • Delivery of the ‘Recognising and Realising Children’s Rights Toolkit’ training;
  • promotion of best practice in Equalities and Human Rights through the Equalities in Youth Work Steering Group;
  • development of an Inclusive Practice toolkit (ALLin) for Youth Workers(Erasmus+) and broad dissemination to the youth work sector;
  • promotion of the Youth Work Awards, which support rights and participation;
  • support for activities which promote democratic engagement and participation and which focus on young people at the heart of policy making; at local and national level; and
  • identifying the role of youth work and contributing to the Public Authority Children’s Rights Reports (under Part 1, Section 2 of the CYP Act 2014), prior to first plans reporting in 2020.

The UNCRC is also embedded in the national Youth Work Outcomes framework for Scotland. The Outcomes[112] have been developed by the youth work sector, led by the National Voluntary Youth Organisations Scotland and Local Authority Youth Work Managers Networks, facilitated by YouthLink Scotland. The Outcomes were developed following research into other outcome frameworks and models from across the UK and Europe.

The awareness raising toolkit: ‘Recognising and Realising Children’s Rights’, mentioned above, was developed by Education Scotland, in partnership with YouthLink Scotland.[113] This is a professional learning resource which aims to raise knowledge and awareness of the UNCRC. The resource supports those working with young people in a youth work setting and has been designed as a train-the-trainer, continuing professional development opportunity.

7.13 Post School Transition/Further Education

Transitions and changes are part of every child and young person’s life. The vast majority of children and young people look forward to moving on from school. However transitions can be challenging for some young people. Schools should ensure, through effective transition planning, that every child has an appropriate offer of post-16 learning or training in place before the date that they plan to leave school.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 makes specific provisions to enable children and young people with additional support needs to receive help when they experience changes in their education, including transitions. During 2017, the Scottish Government consulted on actions to update the Supporting Children’s Learning Code of Practice under the 2004 Act.[114] The revised Code of Practice, including guidance on transitions for young people with additional support needs leaving school education, was published in December 2017.[115]

7.14 Learner Journey

The Scottish Government has now concluded the Education Delivery Plan commitment to “... review the learning journey for all 16-24 year olds to ensure that education provision for young people is as effective and efficient as possible and provides more stepping stones for those needing most support”. The commitment was recast into a 15-24 learner journey review, to encompass all young people in the senior phase to ensure that young people have the confidence to choose the career path that is right for them. To have this confidence young people need the right advice and support.

The Review was approached through 5 projects, covering careers advice, access, provision, transitions and progression, and funding and established 17 recommendations for improvement. As part of this review, the Scottish Government commissioned research, undertaken by SQW Consultancy in partnership with Young Scot, into young people’s experience of the education and training system in Scotland. The findings of the research are available on the Scottish Government website.[116]

The Scottish Government will now take forward the recommendations of the 15-24 Learner Journey Review, published in May 2018. Implementation has commenced and the Scottish Government is committed to improving the experience for the learner and setting a clear expectation for more purposeful collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and employers. In the year ahead this includes, starting work to:

  • Ensure every pupil in Scotland has access to an online account to collate their skills and experiences, enhancing the personalised support available when choosing courses and planning a career;
  • deliver a new careers strategy by autumn 2019 to set the vision for high quality career information, advice and guidance services accessible to all; and
  • improve choice through the expansion of Graduate Apprenticeships to provide new higher level technical skills.

The Scottish Government continues engagement with stakeholders and users extensively around the Learner Journey Review, including organisations representing the interests of parents, young people and employers.

7.15 Access to Higher Education

The Commission on Widening Access (CoWA) was established in April 2015 to advise Ministers on the steps necessary to achieve their ambition that a child born today, irrespective of socio-economic background, should have an equal chance of entering university by the time he or she leaves school. The Commission published its final report, A Blueprint for Fairness, in March 2016, making 34 recommendations, which were accepted in full by the Scottish Government. This included a recommendation that the Scottish Government should appoint a Commissioner for Fair Access.

The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science made a statement to Parliament on progress on implementation in May 2017.[117] This was accompanied by a report on progress on implementation, also published in May 2017.[118] Within the report, a commitment was made to establishing a delivery group to “... coordinate and monitor progress with implementation across all parts of the system”.

The Access Delivery Group, chaired by the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science was established in August 2017. Its members include representatives from across the whole education system. Scottish Government officials have also established an Access Data Working Group to deliver the Commission’s recommendations for improved measures and use of data to support access. The Group’s remit is to consider what other measures should be used in addition to SIMD to support fair access.

The Commissioner for Fair Access, Professor Sir Peter Scott, published his first annual report in December 2017, making a number of recommendations for the Scottish Government, the Scottish Funding Council and universities. The Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science responded to that in a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 6 March 2018.[119] The Commissioner for Fair Access is also leading development of the Scottish Toolkit for Fair Access, which will identify and share best practice in supporting access students. The Toolkit will be formally launched by early 2019.

The Scottish Government introduced the Care Experienced Bursary in 2017 and increased it from £7,625 to £8,100 for the 2018-19 academic year. The Bursary replaces student loans for students with care experience, taking an inclusive approach to eligibility so as many young people as possible with care experience qualify.

Good progress on widening access is being made. The latest UCAS figures on placed applicants show a 16% increase over the past 2 years in the number of Scots from the most deprived communities getting places to study at a UK university.

Independent Review of Student Support

In October 2016, Scottish Ministers commissioned the Independent Review of Student Support to assess the effectiveness of the system of support for all students engaged in further and higher education in Scotland, and make recommendations for beneficial change. The Review was independently chaired by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, then CEO of Virgin Money UK. The final report of the Independent Review was published in November 2017.[120]

The Scottish Government responded to the independently chaired Student Support Review in June 2018 and Scottish Ministers committed additional funding of over £21m per year by the end of this parliamentary term for improvements across further and higher education student support. This will include investment of over £5m in 2018-19 to support an increase in the care-experience bursary to £8,100 per year for students across Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE)(as referred to above). In 2019-20, £16m will be invested to increase bursaries for students from the lowest income families across FE and HE; deliver a guaranteed bursary for eligible students in FE; and increase the HE bursary income threshold to support access.

7.16 Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)

“I recommend that the Government ensures that all young people have the skills and knowledge that they need to be successful in life, in the career that they wish to pursue.”

Sanna, MSYP, Rights Review Event, 2018

Developing the Young Workforce – Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy aims to reduce youth unemployment levels by 40% by 2021. In October 2017, it was announced that this target had been met 4 years early.[121] Labour market statistics from May 2018 show that this target is continuing to be met. To date, through this programme, the Scottish Government has: grown vocational provision for young people in the senior phase, with 27,145 Modern Apprenticeship (MA) starts in 2017-18 and a significant expansion in Foundation Apprenticeships; established 21 regional DYW employer groups across the country; created new national standards for work placements and careers education in schools and colleges; and set out how it will tackle gender imbalances and promote equality of access in relation to subject and career choices, through the Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan and Scottish Funding Council Gender Action Plan for colleges and universities.

Since 2013-14, there has been an upward trend in the uptake of vocational pathways for senior phase pupils. Completion rates for senior phase pupils studying vocational qualifications have also increased. In 2018-19, the Scottish Government will continue to implement DYW recommendations including:

  • Continuing to extend the reach of careers advice to younger school pupils;
  • embedding a new work experience standard;
  • expanding the number of Foundation Apprenticeships;
  • continuing to develop Graduate Apprenticeships; and
  • funding and supporting the development of employer led DYW Regional Groups across the country to encourage and support more employers to engage with education and to recruit more young people.


7.17 Culture Strategy

The Scottish Government has committed to developing A Culture Strategy for Scotland.[122] This will recognise the fundamental value of culture and its transformative and empowering potential, which everyone in Scotland, including children and young people, should have an equal opportunity to experience. The strategy will also celebrate the contribution that children and young people make to culture now, and their critical role in shaping the future of culture in Scotland.

The views of children and young people have been gathered throughout both the early engagement[123] and public consultation phases of strategy development and a Partial CRWIA also formed part of the public consultation on the draft strategy[124] which closed on 19 September 2018. More than 200 responses have been received including from children’s and young people’s organisations. These responses are currently being analysed and will inform the final draft of A Culture Strategy for Scotland.

The Scottish Government has also committed to establish a Cultural Youth Experience Fund.[125] The Fund will seek to support a number of pilots in the next year, with a focus on areas of deprivation, helping to ensure that location is not a barrier to experience the best of Scotland’s culture. The Fund will create new opportunities for young people of school age in Scotland, particularly those who live in areas of multiple deprivation, to experience and enjoy Scotland’s diverse cultures and heritage, both in and outside of the classroom. It will also offer positive experiences which can change the way young people feel about themselves, school and learning.

7.18 Music

This Government recognises the pivotal role that culture, creativity and music plays in people’s lives across Scotland, which is why the 2018-19 Budget includes an increase in culture funding of almost 10%.

The Scottish Government’s long-standing investment of £109m since 2007 in the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) has made a significant impact, helping young people across Scotland access music making opportunities and develop their wider skills and learning. In March 2018, a YMI Impact report highlighted that 244,000 young people took part in the Initiative in 2016-17 across all 32 local authorities, and provided clear evidence that young people enjoyed their YMI activities, making them feel happy, involved, excited and motivated. As part of the Year of Young People, the Scottish Government has committed a further £9m funding (2018-19) in the YMI, ensuring that every school pupil in Scotland is offered a year of free music tuition by the time they leave primary school and enabling access to music making opportunities for thousands of young people across Scotland.

The Scottish Government also supports Sistema Scotland which has Big Noise Centres in Raploch, Govanhill, Torry and Douglas. The £2.5m 4-year funding package (2016-20) is enabling the youth orchestra programme to sustain and build on its work to enhance the health, wellbeing and prospects of young people in the communities in Stirling, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee.

All of the 5 Scottish Government-funded National Performing Companies also have initiatives to encourage cultural activity and participation, with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra providing programmes that connect to disabled musicians, often in collaboration with partners such as Drake Music Scotland, universities and hospitals. Creative Scotland also works with a range of partners to ensure people have the opportunity to engage in music. The recently announced 2018-21 Creative Scotland Regular Funding Network consists of 121 organisations supported by £101.6m, which includes funding of £0.65m to the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland.

7.19 Access to Libraries and Galleries

Ambition and Opportunity, Scotland’s first National Strategy for Public Libraries 2015-2020, was published in June 2015. Since 2014, the Scottish Government has invested more than £4.7m to help re-invigorate the role of public libraries. This funding has supported improvements including a roll out of Wi-Fi and 3D printers, supporting the development and delivery of 6 pioneering film clubs, and delivering training for over 150 public library staff to enable them to host and lead the coding clubs in libraries across Scotland. All library services offer Code Clubs for young people, which operate after school and/or at weekends and usually last for an hour. In addition, over 6m items were borrowed by children from Scotland’s Public libraries in the last year.

In PfG 2018-19, the Scottish Government committed to:

  • Further develop the library offer for children and young people through an engagement programme which enables every child to become a library member;
  • build on the success of the ‘One Card’ pilot for library membership, extending this beyond North East Scotland and paving the way for a national library card; and
  • invest £0.45m in the Public Library Improvement Fund to continue to support innovative ways for people to use public libraries. For example last year, the Fund supported South and North Ayrshire Library Services to evaluate how the use of reading and books can support young people’s mental health and wellbeing with their Mind an Read Well ‘books on prescription’ project.

The National Library of Scotland is the largest library in Scotland, with over 26m items to which it adds more than 320,000 items every year. The collections are used to support research in the widest sense and learning and education at all levels. The Library has been building its online presence for a number of years and offers educational resources to children and young people through its Learning Zone. In addition, every year, the Library mounts a hundred public events and workshops for audience, including, children, young people and families.[126]

The Library is committed to helping remove unnecessary barriers to the employment of young people and has pursued a wide range of activities to take this forward. Since 2014, the Library has also been partnering with the National Galleries of Scotland in the Heritage Lottery Fund Skills for the Future Programme to train young people in digitising and offering mentoring support with a focus on enhancing their employability.

The Scottish Ministers have also committed to continuing to ensure free access for all to Scotland’s national museums and galleries. Learning and access are key priorities and central to the National Collections’ vision as Scotland’s leading cultural institutions. During the Year of Young People, the National Galleries of Scotland and National Museums Scotland developed a number of projects and exhibitions with children and young people, including the National Galleries of Scotland’s What is the Art of the Future? exhibition, which invited and encouraged young people from across Scotland to produce artworks which delivered an imaginative and innovative response to this question.


Email: Rights and Participation Team

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