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Children in Scotland responds to the UNCRC Statutory Guidance Consultation

Children in Scotland has today (Thursday 16 May) responded to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Statutory Guidance Consultation.

While welcoming the actions of the Scottish Government as bringing Scotland another step closer to UNCRC incorporation, Children in Scotland has also highlighted concerns about the length, accessibility and complexity of the proposed information and how this will impact engagement with the guidance.

The draft guidance, issued by Scottish Government earlier this year, outlines changes to Part 2 and Part 3, Section 18 of the UNCRC, which provides significant detail on who is required to comply under the Act, what their requirements and duties are, and how the Scottish Government will utilise the Act to better children’s access to their rights.

Through its Supporting the Third Sector project (click here for more), Children in Scotland consulted with staff from Scotland’s Third Sector Interfaces to inform its response to the draft guidance.

While there was enthusiasm and understanding of the strengthening that incorporation will bring to children’s rights in Scotland, many members had concerns around the lack of accessible support available for the third sector, especially when considering the limited capacity that many organisations have to deliver on their compatibility duties.

Sharing concerns about the accessibility of guidance, Children in Scotland’s advice and information services, Enquire (click here for more) and My Rights, My Say (click here for more), highlighted the difficulties service users already face when accessing redress under the current education system and emphasised the importance of new guidance not adding complications to the current system. My Rights, My Say have also submitted a whole service response to this consultation.

Children in Scotland’s response also highlighted where the guidance delivered succinct and clear information and offered its full support and commitment to work with the Scottish Government, members and sector partners as the UNCRC incorporation comes into effect over the coming months.

Click here to read Children in Scotland’s response to the UNCRC Statutory Guidance Consultation

Our response

Read our full response to the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Act 2024: Statutory Guidance on Part 2 and 3,

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Sustainability at #CiSAC24: Making the environment more than a conference buzzword

With our Annual Conference just two weeks away, our Communications and Marketing Manager, Julie Thomson, highlights some of the ways that Children in Scotland staff are working with children and young people to make the event more environmentally friendly.

When I first joined Children in Scotland a year ago, some of their ways of working were quite new to me. The comms team invested a lot of time crafting great digital-only publications, like the Learning Guide (click here for more), for example, and my first reaction was – why don’t we print these and get them into distribution? The answer was simple and to the point. Because the young people we work with wanted us to be a more sustainable organisation, and reducing our print output was a big part of that.  

It didn’t take me long to see just how extensive the co-working relationship was between the organisation’s staff and young people's advisory group, Changing our World (click here for more), and the positive impact this had across the board. Sustainability is firmly on the agenda, and every decision – from our use of AI, to the menu options at our events – is considered in the context of its environmental impact. There is a real sense that not only are we working smarter for our planet, but that we are promoting the voices of children and young people across our work, which is exactly what our vision (click here for more) states. 

It came as no surprise then that after engaging with Changing our World on our Annual Conference 2024 (click here for more) planning, sustainability was a key driver. Here are just a few of the ways that Children in Scotland is trying to make the event more environmentally friendly this year.  

Cutting down our conference programme 

It may seem like a small contribution to reducing paper consumption, but ultimately one that we hope is a step in the right direction in our sustainability journey. This year we have reduced the pages in our printed conference programme by 37.5% and have created an online hub to house further details – like speaker bios and exhibitor information. This event will give us a chance to assess delegate feedback on the online parts of the programme, as well as find the important balance between promoting digital channels and keeping everyone ‘present’ for what is ultimately a fairly rare in-person, non-digital, learning experience. Our hope is that we will strike this balance and strive to make the conference programme fully digital in 2025.  

Murrayfield – again?? 

Our last annual conference in 2022 took place at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh, and we are aware that in different times, the expectation may have been to move to a new city or venue every year. There are some very good, and sustainable, reasons why we haven’t done this in 2024. As anyone in the events game will know, scoping out new venues takes a lot of time, effort – and mileage – to get something appropriate in place. By choosing to go back to venue well known to us, we have significantly cut down our road miles. Furthermore, the fact that Murrayfield is so well served by transport links across Scotland, it allows us to encourage the use of public transport to reach our event. 

The menu 

There is substantial evidence emerging that vegetarian and vegan diets have a significantly lower environmental impact than those that use meat products. While we’re not here to preach to anyone about dietary choices (or indeed lack thereof – one meat-appreciating coeliac here, living in a household with multiple other food allergies...), we have decided to make more sustainable and inclusive choices for our annual conference lunch menu. All standard menu choices will be vegetarian or vegan, with dietary requirements also catered for. With just a couple of weeks to go, our catering order sits at 80% vegetarian and 20% vegan.  

Ditching the delegate bags 

There is growing concern around the environmental impact of textile production, and just because your delegate bag is made of cotton and can be reused or recycled, doesn’t mean you will keep it forever, or that it will one day complete its unreliable journey to becoming your next pair of socks. Reducing consumption of these products is really the most effective way of being sustainable, and we’ve taken that on board with the decision not to offer delegate bags at our 2024 Annual Conference.  

And it’s not just the bag itself. With our renewed focus on sustainability, Children in Scotland pens, notebooks, and printed flyers are all a thing of the past – instead, look out for our QR codes around the event to find out more information about our work (I’m not sure how many QR codes you can fit on one printed A4 page, but you know we’ll be going for the world record!) 

A journey to sustainability  

I mentioned a sustainability journey earlier and I’ll come back to this point. We want to do the very best to meet every expectation for this event – whether in the quality of the speakers, in the connections that we are creating between people in the sector, the varied learning, or indeed the sustainability aspects. Small steps, rather than giant leaps, help create balance between these sometimes-competing concepts. One thing we can be sure of is that we are now in the right direction of travel, with the voices of children and young people firmly guiding our path.  

Tickets are still available for our two-day Annual Conference on 29-30 May at Murrayfield Stadium. Click here to find out more and book your place. 

About the Author

Julie Thomson is Communications and Marketing Manager at Children in Scotland.

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Annual Conference 2024

Join us on 29 & 30 May at Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

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A new First Minister for Scotland, and time to assess priorities

Following last week's appointment of a new First Minister for Scotland, David Mackay, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation at Children in Scotland, reflects on John Swinney's initial commitment to the eradication of child poverty, and what needs to be done now to achieve long-term change. 

As the dust begins to settle after what had been a rollercoaster few weeks in Scottish politics, we emerge with a new First Minister with a clear focus on tackling what he describes as “the curse” that is child poverty.

During press questions after he was elected leader of the Scottish National Party, John Swinney stated that his “principal policy interest” was eradicating child poverty in Scotland. The passion and determination in Mr Swinney’s response was heartening to hear and warmly welcomed by organisations working across the children’s sector who see the damaging impact of child poverty on a daily basis.

At Children in Scotland, our key aim is supporting all children and young people to flourish. As a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition in Scotland, we have campaigned for interventions to reduce child poverty in Scotland. Key successes in recent years have been the expansion of free school meals and the introduction of the Scottish Child Payment, both of which are having a positive impact for some families who are struggling.

Despite these successes, and child poverty having been a key focus for previous First Ministers, we are still living in a Scotland where one in four children (approximately 240,000) are living in poverty. Scotland is also a country with widening inequalities, and the impact of this can be seen in our national public health data. With an ongoing cost-of-living crisis and public service cuts being introduced in different areas of the country, the child poverty interventions we have made to date alone are not enough to turn the tide. Although positive, they are an insufficient sticking plaster on a bigger problem.

So what can we do to tackle this problem? In his speech, Mr Swinney invited us to watch his government's progress on tackling child poverty. However Children in Scotland, our members, and our partners across the sector, don't want to just watch, we want to work together with the Scottish Government and MSPs to achieve our common goal of eradicating child poverty.

Children in Scotland is writing to Mr Swinney outlining our key asks and inviting him to meet with our Children's Sector Strategic and Policy Forum. To make the change he wants to see, we must ensure there is a sustainable children's sector, where charities and not-for-profit organisations are fairly funded and can plan ahead, and impactful statutory children's services are protected from cuts.

We must also make the most of the upcoming United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child legislation by applying a child-rights lens to all our policy decisions and budgeting, and ensuring there is policy coherence across the different areas of government. This will help to ensure all children are protected in this challenging financial climate.

In the short term, we can and must do more. A positive initial step for Mr Swinney would be to take immediate action to increase the Scottish Child Payment. Back in December 2023, the End Child Poverty Coalition in Scotland campaigned for an uplift to £30 per week ahead of the Scottish Budget, however the announced increase fell short of our calls. We regularly hear from our members that the safety net for families is being pulled away. Many families are living in crisis and short-term action to tackle child poverty is essential alongside a longer-term route map.

As Scotland’s new First Minister, Mr Swinney has inherited a long to-do list. But, as we all know, a to-do list is nothing without prioritisation. We are pleased to hear eradicating child poverty will be the number one priority at the heart of Mr Swinney’s government, and Children in Scotland and our network look forward to working collaboratively with him to make this a reality.

A greyscale image of a smiling person with short dark hair and wearing a light coloured shirt. The image sits inside a pink speech bubble

About the Author

David Mackay is Head of Policy, Projects and Participation at Children in Scotland.

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Tackling "poverty of opportunity" one bairn at a time

When Dundee Bairns was established in 2017 by David Dorward, former Chief Executive of Dundee City Council, its main focus was tackling the “holiday hunger” faced by children living in areas of high multiple deprivation across the city.

Now, having grown and expanded with the help of volunteers and the local community, the charity offers a range of additional support, including clothing packs, free summer activities, cooking clubs, and more. Here, Genna Millar, Project Manager at Dundee Bairns, tells us more.

Food poverty has been a huge, prevailing issue for a long time now, particularly in Dundee, where one in three children are classed as living below the poverty line.

In 2017, when Dundee Bairns was established, we saw food larders pop up for the first time across our city, with many created by volunteers, organisations and charities to help plug the gap in the new benefits system roll-out, which saw lots of families sanctioned or waiting up to 12 weeks for any money to come through the door.

It was the first time I had seen such a harsh change in the system, and it led to many families and individuals having to make really stark choices about where to spend their money. And for households that were already financially challenged, when the school holidays came around, it meant some children were spending up to seven weeks struggling to access a decent meal or any kind of day out or activity.

Our Fun and Food programme was incepted to help already established community projects to access funding and food, enhancing their activities or helping them cater to more children and families in areas of high multiple deprivation. It is now a staple of the school holiday activity provision in Dundee, with community groups, schools, church groups, support workers and more all supported by Dundee Bairns.

We now work with more than 100 community projects and schools, and supply around 3,000 to 5,000 meals per week during the holidays. Activities we have supported over the years have included hiring a lifeguard so that children with additional support needs had access to swimming sessions to funding for arts and crafts and t-shirt making kits for community family fun days, and even paying for pony-axe hire to enable children in wheelchairs to take part in horse-riding.

The meals provided by the Fun and Food programme help to take the pressure off families, who are already struggling – and when children are well fed, sometimes the whole family is, too. It really does make a world of difference and, most importantly, it is dignified access to food and engaging activities.

Poverty of opportunity

Over the past seven years, we have seen a “slow burner” effect as standards have never improved for families and, in many cases, they have been worsened, first by COVID-19, and now by the cost of living crisis.

While prices have gone up massively across the board, benefits and wages don’t match the reality of daily living. The traditional image of an older person struggling to “heat or eat” is long gone, and people of all ages are now struggling to do either.

There is also the growing issue of poverty of opportunity for many young people, not just in Dundee but across the country. We live in a world that is being more and more monitised – and as resources become scarce due to lack of funding at government level, we are seeing more and more people generally being priced out of so many opportunities, which we all used to take for granted. We are very good at targeting support at the people we know are struggling but I see many more cases of in-work poverty, which is not being supported properly, and will become a massive issue if left unchecked.

Food poverty is a symptom of a poverty of everything else – if a family is struggling to put food on the table, it’s more than likely they won’t be able to support other basics. For example, I have worked with children who have never been to their local theatre, zoo, museum or beach, let alone been out of the city on holiday in the UK or abroad, which is shocking. How can you begin to dream bigger than your circumstances when your world is so narrow?

What’s more, school systems are struggling to cope with the level of welfare they need to tackle before they can begin teaching a child. Lack of resource in schools is a huge issue, and it’s frightening to see the cuts to resources in an area we know is already so stretched and doing so much with so little.

Two people wearing blue tshirts load boxes into an open car boot.
Dundee Bairns volunteers

Looking ahead

Dundee Bairns has grown so quickly in the last few years, and we have expanded our support with a wide range of programmes. Our new Bairns at Home project, for example, was started in September last year, and we have seen some absolutely mind-blowing results from it already – 60,000 items distributed to over 650 families with 6,000 children in just six months! While this project is very new, it has been a real game-changer for the third sector in Dundee, and we hope to deliver much more in the coming year. We also have funding to develop our Tea Club project, and we will shortly be employing a new member of staff to help us grow our food programmes from a nutritional point of view.

Although Dundee Bairns is working hard to support children and families across the city, it’s hard to think of our work as a “success” because the reasons we exist are not happy ones.

Food poverty for children could be tackled better by school food provision – at the moment, the provision is very limited, particularly for secondary school children. Many cost-cutting initiatives have been brought in to make meals at school fit a certain ideological criteria, and the result has been hungrier not healthier children.

Put simply, one school meal a day simply isn’t enough.

For more information on Dundee Bairns, visit www.dundeebairns.org

Member Spotlight

Discover more about the work of Dundee Bairns. Pictured: Genna Millar

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Learning opportunities 2024

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Insight Issue 5

Find out what's inside the latest issue. Illustration by Ally McKay

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Children in Scotland congratulates John Swinney on FM appointment

Children in Scotland congratulates John Swinney on his appointment as Scotland’s First Minister.

Earlier this week, we were pleased to hear Mr Swinney reaffirm his commitment to eradicating child poverty. At a time when many families are facing significant cost-of-living pressures and 1 in 4 children in Scotland are growing up in poverty, it is clear more urgent action is required. We are calling on the First Minister to prioritise action on poverty by introducing an immediate uplift to the Scottish Child Payment with a view to increasing this to £40 by the end of this parliament.

To realise a Scotland where all children grow up loved, safe and respected, and where every child can realise their full potential, collaborative working is by essential. With the introduction of new UNCRC legislation coming into effect this summer, we have a unique opportunity to improve outcomes for children and young people in Scotland and to ensure our political decision-making is underpinned by children’s rights.

We look forward to working with Mr Swinney, the Scottish Government, MSPs, and our members and partners across the children’s sector to achieve our common goals. Together we can tackle significant issues impacting children, young people and families today, including poverty and inequality, access to public services, poor mental health, education reform, and the climate crisis.

David Mackay
Head of Policy, Projects and Participation

Children need a playful world to thrive and survive

As we gear up for our Annual Conference later this month, we hear from With Kids, who will be leading one of the 25 thought-provoking workshops taking place across the two-day event.

Improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children, With Kids offer early therapeutic intervention by skilled and experienced therapeutic staff to help every child to flourish.

Ahead of presenting a workshop on child trauma during day two of our conference, we speak to Play Therapist and Clinical Supervisor, Jeanne McLaughlin, about why play is so critical for every child’s development.  

The team at With Kids are experts in play therapy, why is play such a powerful means for understanding and supporting children? 

Playfulness is an evolutionary strategy that allows human beings to attune to their internal state and engage others. It has no construct, no framework, no purpose and is spontaneously in the here and now. It is a way of “being” rather than doing and prerequisite for play to happen. Children need a playful world to thrive and survive, even in the most difficult environments or situations.

As a nondirective child led play therapist, my job is to step into the playful world of the child and see things through their eyes. This does not mean play must always be fun and joyful. Play can evoke a sense of fear or discomfort such as when a child spins around until they feel sick or puts out all the lights to sit in the dark with a torch. Playfulness is the process that children instinctively understand helps relieve internal physical and emotional anxiety. Children unfettered by layers of adult experience  can swing easily through emotions of joy, fear, anger, confusion and back again. They seem to know that to be spontaneously playful releases the feel-good chemicals into the body such as serotonin, dopamine and reduces the release of cortisol, all without adult direction.

With Kids runs projects in different communities, including a 13-year project in the East End of Glasgow and two projects in Wester Hailes and the South West of Edinburgh. Why is it important to be integrated within the communities of the children and families you are working with?

The communities that we work in are at a socioeconomic disadvantage with intergenerational patterns of trauma and disrupted relational attachment bonds. With Kids sits in the heart of the community with a focus on building relationships, resiliency and offering support to help families make independent changes in their lives. We know from experience that supporting lasting change in a community needs a long-term viewpoint with children and families playing an active role at With Kids events and groups.

With Kids team are often developing their knowledge and practice. Are there any new areas of research you are currently exploring?

At With Kids, we run the MSc in Play Therapy at Queen Margaret University (click here for more) and have an input to the new MSc Infant Mental Health at University of Glasgow (click here for more). As an established centre of Play Therapy in Scotland we work extensively with the age group three to 11 years. In the last five years we have been working to develop an infant mental health programme that helps to support vulnerable parents understand and respond to their baby in a way that creates a stable foundation to the attachment relationship.

What are you looking forward to experiencing at this year’s Annual Conference?

Children in Scotland are an innovative and forward-thinking organisation who put children at the centre of all their projects and training. They ensure that children’s voices are strong and heard. The conference events are always a delight with shared knowledge and experience from a range of third sector organisations, policy makers and children’s workforce. This year is exciting with so many great speakers and workshops, we cannot decide what to book first! (The solution - book them all!) We are looking forward to meeting other delegates, presenting and being part of the change in how we think about children’s experiences.

Join Jeanne and the team at With Kids at our Annual Conference on 29-30 May at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. Click here to find out more and book your place. 

About the Author

Jeanne McLaughlin is a Play Therapist and Clinical Supervisor working at With Kids for 12 years.

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Annual Conference 2024

Join us on 29 & 30 May at Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

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Teen cancer survivor and advocate Molly Cuddihy and Natalie Don MSP join impressive line-up for Annual Conference 2024

Children in Scotland has today revealed two more speakers for its Annual Conference 2024, with teen cancer survivor and advocate Molly Cuddihy, and Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise, Natalie Don MSP, joining the packed lineup of expert voices.  

Held in just one month’s time on Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 May at Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, the flagship event will bring together delegates, partners and supporters from across the children’s sector, providing opportunities to exchange ideas, network and learn. 

Addressing the conference with a keynote speech on day one, Molly Cuddihy is a passionate advocate for the rights of children and young adults, particularly those living with and progressing from cancer and other serious illness, having been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer when she was just 15 years old. 

Currently a Youth Ambassador for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Molly has a wealth of experience to share with the conference. As co-founder of the charity Every Thank You Counts, and co-ordinator for the acclaimed Radio Therapy podcast (click here for more), which covers themes including mental health, body image and mortality, the inspiring teen will provide fresh perspectives on topics close to her heart. 

Speaking on day two of the conference, Natalie Don MSP, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise, will discuss a range of issues relevant to children and young people, and the wider sector, providing valuable insights.

Natalie Don MSP said: “I'm really looking forward to what is set to be another amazing event run by Children in Scotland. 

“I was lucky enough to be invited to their 30th Anniversary Networking event last year where I had the pleasure of meeting a number of past and present staff members, and engaged with the amazing members of the Changing Our World children and young people’s advisory group. 

“As this inspirational group has been heavily involved with the development, planning, and workshop selection for the upcoming conference, I know it will be a very interesting and thought-provoking event where experts in a wide variety of areas can get together to discuss issues impacting children.” 

Alongside powerful keynote speeches, informative panel discussions, and engaging workshops, children and young people’s voices will be central to both days of the Annual Conference, with representatives from Changing Our World (CoW) (click here for more) co-chairing the programme. 

Ensuring attendees hear directly from the young Scots they work with and for every day has been a key goal for Children in Scotland when planning the Annual Conference 2024, and further highlights of the programme include co-designed workshops and interactive sessions, covering everything from supporting neurodivergent children to suicide prevention, Artificial Intelligence, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, learning through play, youth homelessness, and many more topics. 

For further information, interviews and all media requests please contact Alice Hinds: ahinds@childreninscotland.org.uk or press@childreninscotland.org.uk

Annual Conference 2024

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Meet our speakers and presenters

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Changing our World

Supported by Yopa, Changing our World is our children and young people’s advisory group

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We can all be allies

Since 2019, The Allies Project has supported unaccompanied asylum-seeking and trafficked young people to build individual and community resilience by creating a psychosocial group offering a much-needed shared space for accessing mental health support.

Ahead of presenting a workshop at our Annual Conference next month, Aberlour’s Wellbeing Coordinators, Alexis Wright and Lorna New, share how the programme is building resilience and supporting recovery.

The Allies Project is a psychosocial group for unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people run jointly by Guardianship Scotland, a partnership project of Aberlour and the Scottish Refugee Council, which works with young unaccompanied asylum-seeking and trafficked young people across Scotland and the Glasgow Psychological Trauma Service (The Anchor), a specialist NHS trauma service that has a remit to work with unaccompanied young people in Glasgow, who have experienced mental health difficulties linked to trauma experiences.

The Allies Project partnership was developed to offer unaccompanied asylum-seeking and trafficked young people an alternative and/or addition to mainstream psychological service and to provide a much-needed shared space for young people to find mental health support.

The Allies group programme was developed to respond to the trauma experiences and effects on unaccompanied young people. It prevents re-traumatisation by building on the trauma-informed practice of Guardianship Scotland, which embeds the principles of safety, trust, choice, collaboration, empowerment, peer support, and cultural humility in all its work. It builds resilience and supports recovery by being a strengths-based programme, acknowledging the survival skills of young people, increasing their social support and opportunities for community integration, and sharing psychosocial skills and expertise through a partnership with a specialist trauma service. It is also a relationships-based programme - building quality relationships between young people, their guardians, community organisations and the trauma service.

Young people who attend the group have experienced significant trauma without access to protective factors or support from loved ones to buffer the effects of trauma. They are unaccompanied without caregivers, family or friends and have to face multiple challenges alone with no certainty of what the future holds or who if anyone will come by their side in years to come.

The group is psychosocial, building and resourcing both individual and community resilience in the face of the multiple traumas and losses these young people have faced. The Allies group programme teaches young people coping strategies to help them manage symptoms of trauma, anxiety, stress, and tension. It helps them understand how their experiences as an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child and trafficked child impacts their feelings of safety, relationships, identity, and access to justice. We support young people to acknowledge their strength in what they have already faced, which we believe is critical for their future growth and development. We help them reflect on their past, while identifying their strengths and aspirations for the future.

We have learned that quite often services and professionals who are not experienced in supporting unaccompanied young people can feel overwhelmed with the complexity of their needs and circumstances. We welcome you all to our workshop on the 30th of May where we will explain our Allies group programme, share our learning on the complex needs of this group of young people and how we respond. There will be time for attendees to reflect on what they do and can do to support this client group. We can all be allies.

Interested in learning more? Guardianship Scotland will be presenting a workshop about The Allies Project at our Annual Conference on 30 May.
Click here to find out more about the conference 

About the Author

Alexis Wright (top) and Lorna New (bottom) are Wellbeing Coordinators with the Guardianship Scotland

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Annual Conference 2024

Join us on 29 & 30 May at Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

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New paper reflects young people’s views on behaviour and relationships in schools

Children in Scotland has published a summary paper today (1 May) which adds new evidence to the ongoing discussions about behaviour and relationships in schools, drawing directly on the experiences of young people.

The relationships and behaviour summary paper brings together the views of the Inclusion Ambassadors, a group of secondary school-aged pupils who have a range of additional support needs and attend a variety of educational provision across Scotland. The group, delivered by Children in Scotland with support from Enquire , are encouraged to speak freely and openly about their experiences and are supported to contribute to policy consultations and discussions.

This newly-published paper reflects the Inclusion Ambassadors’ views on relationships and behaviour in school and what works for children and young people. Use of positive reinforcement, particularly verbal praise, was identified as impactful for promoting positive relationships and behaviour in schools. The group also shared their views on what contributes to distressed behaviour including unfair expectations, lack of support and stress.

Emphasising the importance of schools approaching communication and inclusion in a progressive way, the group highlighted the need for school staff to take a calm and inclusive approach to supporting all children and young people identifying the often negative impact of shouting and exclusion on pupils.

Based on the views of the Inclusion Ambassadors, Children in Scotland has proposed several recommendations to support professionals working with children and young people. Recommendations include taking a rights-based and child-centred approach to addressing issues relating to behaviour and relationships in school, as well as recognising the positive achievements and decision making of all pupils to support young people to build confidence and make positive choices.

Chris Ross, Policy, Projects and Participation Manager says: “Behaviour and relationships in schools has been a prominent topic in discussions about Scottish education in recent months and it is critical that children and young people’s voices are central to this debate. Drawing on their own experiences, the Inclusion Ambassadors offer a valuable perspective on how the current approach in schools can be improved. We hope the recommendations outlined in the relationships and behaviour summary paper can support the development of policy and practice in this area.”

Click here to read the full summary paper and recommendations

Relationships and behaviour summary

Read the full summary paper from the Inclusion Ambassadors

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Inclusion Ambassadors

Find out more about the work of the Inclusion Ambassadors

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Participation and engagement work

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Understanding violence between girls in Scotland

Aiming to better understand the reasons behind violence between girls, and the ways practitioners working with young women can help to reduce its harms, YouthLink Scotland has released a new report in partnership with the No Knives, Better Lives (NKBL) programme.

Here, Emily Beever​​​​, Senior Development Officer with NKBL shares key findings from The Lassies are No Feart report, which was informed by young women’s experiences.

Children have a right to grow up safely and reach their full potential, and with the Scottish Government’s ambition to make Scotland the best place to grow up, preventing youth violence is a crucial priority.

Although there has been a 58% decrease in violent crime since 2008/09, that downward trend has stalled in recent years. So, when practitioners in the No Knives, Better Lives network (click here for more) reported violence between girls and young women was increasing in frequency and severity, we needed to find out directly from young women.

The Lassies are No Feart report, released April 29, summarises the findings from a small-scale qualitative piece of research with young women and practitioners – here are some of the things they told us about their experiences.

Accessing adult support

Young women told us it was hard to access support from adults to resolve conflict and bullying that could lead to violence. Young people felt adults didn’t care or couldn’t understand their concerns, and they were wary of judgemental responses.

Additionally, young women felt they couldn’t confide in an adult as they would be labelled a ‘snitch’ by their peers. Some young women were also worried about sharing their worries with their family, while others felt conflict had reach to an emergency situation before adults cared enough to act.

“They [teachers] just… they don’t realise when you tell them stuff you’re genuinely, you’re asking for help. You’re trying to get them to help you and sort the situation out or something but they just wait until you’re in hospital.” (Young woman)

Family ties

The young women involved in the report were loyal to and protective of their families. Some young people and practitioners shared how families played a role in supporting violence. Loyalty to families meant that challenging values and behaviour was difficult for teachers and youth workers.

“My mum was so happy when I hit [name].” (Young woman)

Violence as a tool

Young women told us they struggled to manage their emotions and reactions when they perceived disrespect from peers – physical violence was a tool to deal with disrespect towards family, friends or themselves. In these instances, young women felt justified in taking violent action, and some were sceptical that disrespect could ever be prevented.

“Yeah, sometimes when like people push your buttons or whatever and say something to them, you’ve hit them because you don’t know what else to do. Then you end up just using violence.” (Young woman)

Violent content on social media

Young women were both ‘viewers’ and ‘producers’ of violent content on social media. They spoke of daily exposure to graphic violent content, such as fights and extreme animal cruelty.

Violent content was easy to find proactively, with anonymous accounts dedicated to violence requesting videos from young people, and also using marketing techniques to prompt clicks and views, such as ‘teasers’ of fights and sending videos in direct messaging. On the other hand, violence could be seen unintentionally by opening someone’s ‘Story’. The frequent exposure led to desensitisation.

“I'm so used to seeing like videos like all the time, so it's just got to the point where it just doesn't [affect me]. I'm just seeing them all the time and I hear about it all the time. Like it happens too often. To like be like, oh, that's a shame, because there's like too much videos.” (Young woman)

Call to action

We want this report to be a call to action for all those working with girls and young women to take their challenges seriously. There is a need to better understand whether the experiences we heard about are more widespread, and crucially, we need to involve young women in the solutions.

No Knives, Better Lives (click here for more) works in partnership with young people and practitioners to understand and address the causes and drivers of youth violence. It is run by YouthLink Scotland (click here for more), the national agency for youth work and the collective voice of the sector.

To read the full The Lassies are No Feart report, including a young person’s version, click here

Get in touch with the NKBL team, email: nkbl@youthlink.scot

About the Author

Emily Beever is Senior Development Officer with the No Knives, Better Lives programme

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