Supporting Young People's Health & Wellbeing - A Summary of Scottish Government Policy

This document sets out a summary of the key Scottish Government policies that aim to support young people's health and wellbeing. It is a broad overview and does not attempt to describe every policy or initiative that will have an impact on young people's health in Scotland.

Section 2: Pre-birth and Early Years

The Early Years Framework defines early years as pre-birth to 8 years old. This broad definition recognises the importance of pregnancy in influencing outcomes and that the transition to primary school is a critical period in children's lives. Many aspects of the Framework are equally relevant to children beyond the age of 8.

The Framework espouses the GIRFEC approach and recognises the right of all young children to high quality relationships, environments and services which offer a holistic approach to meeting their needs. Such needs should be interpreted broadly and encompass play, learning, social relationships and emotional and physical wellbeing. This approach is important for all children but is of particular benefit in offering effective support to those children and families requiring higher levels of support.

At the heart of the Framework is a desire to see a shift in investment in early years from crisis management to early intervention and prevention. Early intervention has relevance to a wide range of policy but it is particularly relevant in early years, which will often be the earliest and best opportunity to intervene. In addition to a wealth of evidence demonstrating that investment in early years and early intervention leads to improved outcomes for children and young people, there is also powerful international evidence showing that investment in the early years yields significant savings later in an individual's life.

The Scottish Government has initiated a significant shift to preventative spend through the establishment of an Early Years Taskforce. This co-ordinates policy across Government and the wider public sector to ensure that early years spending is prioritised by the whole public sector. The Taskforce was established by the Minister for Children and Young People, who co-chairs it, along with Scotland's Chief Medical Officer and COSLA.

An Early Years Collaborative and Practice Development Team has also been established. The Early Years Collaborative is a multi-agency, local, quality improvement programme delivered at a national scale, which is taking forward the vision and priorities of the Early Years Taskforce. The Collaborative is centred on 3 workstreams based on a family centred, life course approach with a focus on conception to one year, one year to 30 months and 30 months to starting Primary School. The Practice Development Team offer tailored and practical support to local partnerships in improving their approach to early years locally.

Contact: Anncris Roberts - 0131 244 7852.

The Scottish Government's aspiration is to make Scotland the best place in the world for a child to grow up. Parents are key to this ambition. The National Parenting Strategy will support parents and carers of children up to 18 years. Work is ongoing in respect of further development and implementation of the commitments in the National Parenting Strategy. This includes taking forward a specific workstream on parenting of teenagers. See:

Contact: Hilary Third 0131 244 7340.

Other key Scottish Government policy documents with a focus on health in the early years include:

A Refreshed Framework for Maternity Care in Scotland (2011) is designed to address all care from conception, throughout pregnancy and during the postnatal phase. The term "maternity care" is intended to refer to any NHS service providing maternity care to women and their babies - including care provided by Midwives, Obstetricians, General Practitioners, Anaesthetists, Paediatricians, Neonatologists, Public Health Nurses, Pharmacists, Optometrists, Dentists and Allied Health Professionals. Effective collaboration and communication between all of these disciplines and services, and particularly between primary care, public health nursing and maternity services, is essential for person centred, safe and effective maternity care. See:

Contact: Lynne Nicol 0131 244 3524.

The Maternal and Infant Nutrition Framework for Action aims to improve maternal and infant nutrition in Scotland, recognising that the diet and nutritional status of the mother before conception and during pregnancy, the feeding received by the infant in the first few months of life, the process of weaning onto solid foods and the diet and nutrition status of the growing infant all contribute significantly to the long term health of the population. The Framework is aimed at a wide variety of organisations, including the NHS, with a role in improving maternal and infant nutrition in Scotland.

Contact: Louise Scott 0131 244 3264.

The fourth edition of Health for All Children ("Hall 4") provides a framework for connecting a range of different policies and spheres of activity that support children and young people's health and development in the early years and beyond. Guidance on Implementation in Scotland was published in 2005 and that guidance is supplemented by A New Look at HALL 4: The Early Years: Good Health for Every Child (2011) which re-introduces the 24-30 month review. Consideration was given on the best age to carry out the review. A short life working group determined that the appropriate time to review the child's parameters of development, identifying and addressing areas where additional support is required is between 27 and 30 months. Therefore the review will be renamed as such. Guidance on the 27-30 month review was published in December 2012. See:

Contact: Gillian Garvie 0131 244 4086.

The national guidance, Pre-Birth to Three: Positive Outcomes for Scotland's Children and Families (December 2010) was developed by Learning and Teaching Scotland in collaboration with the Scottish Government. It aims to guide and support people working with and on behalf of Scotland's youngest children and their families. The guidance and accompanying multimedia resource includes important information on pre-birth and brain development and reflects the principles and philosophy of early intervention which underpin Getting it Right for Every Child, The Early Years Framework, Achieving our Potential and Equally Well. It reflects the complex and multi-faceted nature of the challenges faced by some children and families, making clear that these challenges cannot be dealt with by a single agency, but require multi-agency collaborations.

It also lays a sound foundation for children's learning and development and will ensure a smooth and coherent transition for all children as they begin to engage with Curriculum for Excellence 3-18, the single curriculum for this age group. Curriculum for Excellence provides guidance about the delivery of pre-school education (see 'A Curriculum for Excellence').

An integral component of Curriculum for Excellence is improving the transition from pre-school to primary through the use of more active learning in Primary 1. The early level of Curriculum for Excellence encompasses both pre-school and Primary 1.

'Building the Curriculum 2: Active Learning in the Early Years' (2007), provides guidance on how to ensure that all children in pre-school and primary school settings experience stimulating, effective learning in ways that are appropriate to their needs to enable children and young people to develop their capacities as successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. See:


Email: Elaine Bell

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