Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party: draft shared policy programme

Working together to build a greener, fairer, independent Scotland.

Public services recovery and reform 

In this section:

School education

The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe in Scotland’s ambition to be the best place for children and young people to grow up.

We agree that Scottish education needs to deliver excellence in terms of ensuring children and young people develop a broad range of skills and capacities at the highest levels, while also ensuring equity, so that every child and young person can thrive and have the best opportunity to succeed, regardless of their social circumstances or additional needs. 

In order to achieve this, we will work with partners to develop an empowered and collaborative system, where everyone’s contribution is heard and valued and where improving children and young people’s outcomes is at the heart of everything we do. This can only be achieved through harnessing the many and significant strengths in Scottish education, acknowledging and nurturing the hard work and commitment of teachers, support staff, parents and carers, and young people across Scotland, supported by positive and forward-looking debates on education in Parliament and wider society.

Therefore, we will:

  • work together, jointly and closely, to take forward a programme of education reform, incorporating the recommendations in the OECD report ‘Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: Into the future’. This includes implementing the conclusions of the work of the independent advisor on reform of Education Scotland and inspection, Professor Ken Muir, and replacing the Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • work with the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers to ensure there is appropriate career progression and pathways for teachers looking to specialise in Additional Support for Learning, with the intention that this will result in an overall increase to the number of teachers who specialise in ASL in Scotland’s schools, with particular emphasis on ensuring that the Lead Teacher structure delivers on this outcome
  • explore in collaboration with trade unions and other key stakeholders options for the development of an accredited qualification and registration programme for Additional Support Needs assistants with final proposals to be brought forward by autumn 2023
  • review the current role of measures and indicators associated with Curriculum for Excellence with a view to ensuring an appropriate balance between quality assurance and improvement within learning with sustainable workloads for teachers
  • establish a regular cycle of collaborative review for Curriculum for Excellence, and the measures and indicators that underpin our understanding of progress, to deliver continuous improvement, and ensure that schools and teachers are resourced to deliver it
  • establish a guarantee of access, in school, to the mental health and wellbeing support that young people need, including counselling services
  • support the recruitment of at least 3,500 additional teachers and 500 classroom assistants over and above the 1,400 teachers recruited during the pandemic. This will mean that by the end of the parliament there will be almost 5,000 more teachers in our schools than before the pandemic
  • support constructive and progressive discussion and debate on education matters in the Scottish Parliament and wider society, to move forward in the best interests of Scotland’s children and young people and with a focus on working together

We also agree that the re-established Scottish Education Council and newly created Children and Young People’s Education Council will be key stakeholder engagement and advisory groups for the above, including in support of the independent advisor and his expert panel in respect of the reform of education agencies and the inspection function. We will collaborate to ensure these councils are structured to achieve their maximum potential.

Establishment of a National Care Service

The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe that transformation of Scotland’s social care system, by delivering the recommendations of the Independent Review of Adult Social Care, is required to help everyone in Scotland to reach their potential. This will include the establishment of a National Care Service, a totemic policy issue that will take the full parliamentary session to implement.

We therefore agree to promote and support the consultation on establishing a National Care Service and, led by the needs of service users, will co-design and support the resulting legislation and accompanying guidance. We aim to introduce this by June 2022 delivering:

  • a rights based, person centred, and user led approach to social care
  • consistent and fair access to high quality care and support
  • ethical commissioning that promotes fair work and climate change ambitions
  • the abolition of non-residential social care charges
  • improved national accountability, where Ministers are responsible for the delivery of adult social care services as they are for health services
  • an ability for the Scottish Government to be able to direct and set standards to improve outcomes for people, while ensuring appropriate local input and engagement
  • that commissioned and procured services are centred on ethical commissioning, which will be quality and individual outcome focused, collaborative, person-centred and human rights based

We also agree that:

  • the transformation must be informed by the voices of lived experience, including those who access support and care, the workforce and unpaid carers
  • Fair Work progress for the social care workforce must continue as a priority in tandem with transformation. We therefore commit, in line with the recommendation of Independent Review of Adult Social Care, where possible, to a system of national collective bargaining on pay, terms and conditions within the social care sector
  • through national bargaining on pay we will deliver improved pay and conditions, building from the minimum pay standard of the real living wage for all direct care staff. This will include the aim of greater security of contracts and improved access to training and continuous development
  • workforce representatives, which may include trade unions, will be involved in the governance of the service, including through full membership of Community Health and Social Care Boards
  • bringing the pay, terms and conditions of nursing staff working within the care sector in line with those in the NHS is a shared ambition. We will review the options available to do this
  • a guarantee of short breaks and flexible healthcare appointments for unpaid carers is progressed at pace
  • consistency in delivery of self-directed support should be raised to ensure greater person centred and led delivery
  • consistent provision of bereavement advice services should be provided to unpaid carers and care workers
  • ongoing and regular engagement at a local level, with all partners, will be necessary to ensure effective system re-design and stability of services for people throughout the transformation period
  • in establishing a National Care Service, including any transfer of financial resources from local authorities to reformed integration boards, we shall take into consideration the impact on local authorities’ ability to resource and deliver other services

Mental health

The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party agree that mental health is a shared priority. We recognise the significant impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health, particularly that of children and young people. As well as a focus on improving mental health services, there must be a shift towards prevention and early intervention. This will, in turn, reduce demand and waiting times for clinical services by ensuring the right mental health support is available across all levels of need, including:

  • promoting and supporting the conditions for good mental health and wellbeing at population level
  • providing accessible signposting to help, advice and support
  • providing a rapid and easily accessible response to those in distress
  • ensuring safe, effective treatment and care of people living with mental illness

The actions set out below will play a fundamental part in ensuring the right help is available in the right place for anyone who needs it, at the right time, as we recover from the pandemic.

We will:

  • increase spending on mental health services to 10% of the total frontline NHS budget by the end of this parliamentary session
  • work with health boards to ensure at least 1% of all frontline spend goes on Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services by the end of this parliamentary session
  • double the budget for community based mental wellbeing services for children and young people to £30 million
  • increase the focus on raising awareness and understanding of mental health and mental wellbeing issues, both in schools and colleges, and across the wider public sector. In particular, we will embed our Mental Health knowledge and skills framework developed by NHS Education Scotland to support the training of all staff working with children and young people, as well as our new, free professional learning resource
  • expand community provision of mental health services linked to GP practices, providing assessment as well as help and support for underlying issues and problems, including access to community assets such as support groups, social activities and exercise. We will ensure that, by the end of this parliamentary session, every GP practice has a link worker and access to an assigned community-based mental health clinician
  • develop a long-term mental health workforce plan in the first half of this parliamentary session
  • set out a refreshed and refocused set of consolidated mental health commitments in 2022 to reflect the current mental health and wellbeing needs of the people of Scotland. This will include a review and refresh of the Mental Health Strategy 2017-2027

Gender Identity Services

The Scottish Government and Scottish Green Party believe that the needs of the trans community, including non-binary people, are an important shared priority. Waiting times for Gender Identity Services need to be improved, as long waiting times adversely impact one of the most vulnerable groups in our society.

We will reform the current model of Gender Identity Services to meet the needs of the community, recognising the challenges the NHS faces. In doing so we will listen to the voices of lived experience, especially those who access these services, their families and organisations which represent the trans community. We will also engage with clinical stakeholders and NHS Boards to ensure effective and sustainable outcomes are achieved.

We will centrally fund Gender Identity Services (‘GIS’) until late 2024. A plan for permanent transformation of the service will also be developed, published by late 2021 and implemented in 2022-24. This plan will improve access to and delivery of GIS over the next three years, including:

  • adopting a human rights based, person-centred and multidisciplinary approach to improving trans healthcare provision
  • bringing GIS within national waiting times standards
  • improving support to those waiting on a GIS appointment, including peer support
  • examining, in conjunction with the upcoming revised Gender Reassignment Protocol for Scotland, different models of delivering GIS, with models to be adopted based on the principles of Realistic Medicine
  • ensuring that the newly improved services are accessible to trans, including non-binary, people
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