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Education Improvement: Data gathering must be accurate, considered and purposeful

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s latest consultation on the Education National Improvement Framework (NIF) applauding its overall aim but warning data gathered must be accurate and appropriate in order to lead to tangible improvements.

In our consultation response, we welcome the Education National Improvement Framework and its ambition to widen recognition of achievement, close the poverty-related attainment gap and place the needs and rights of every young person at the centre of education.

Our rights-based response is informed by engagement with children and young people across advisory groups and projects in the past two years and the real concerns we have heard from them about education.

Our recently completed project 'Young People and Their Data', in partnership with the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR), supported an acknowledgement of the importance of appropriate, accurate and transparent data in order to achieve the ambition of the Education NIF in providing benchmarks and measurable goals for the future.

Our response outlines key recommendations, including:

  • a focus on improving the attainment of all children
  • more engagement with services including Enquire, My Rights My Say and the national Inclusion Ambassadors to identify educational inequalities and defining what action can be taken to make tangible improvements
  • end the use of non-contextualised data, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions, as particularly evident with regards to attendance and exclusion figures for children and young people with additional support needs
  • use a holistic assessment tool for children in the early years, when gaps begin to become apparent, such as the internationally recognised Early Development Instrument (EDI) which focuses on more than just literacy and numeracy.

Whilst welcoming the willingness of the Scottish Government to extend recognition of achievement beyond academic qualifications, we are aware of the inequalities of opportunity to achieve outwith school depending on geography, socio-economic group or other factors. Progress on a ‘hobby premium’, as recommended in our Manifesto for 2021-26 (click here to read), may go some way to begin to address this.

Finally, we highlight the requirement to ensure children, young people and their families are made fully aware of how their data is collected, stored and used.

Elaine Kerridge, Policy Manager - Projects and Participation, said:

“We applaud the overall intentions of the Education National Improvement Framework but do have some concerns over the accuracy of the data currently gathered.

“Ultimately, we appreciate data gathering is an important tool in service improvement. It provides a starter marker, creates a benchmark for comparisons and provides a tangible and measurable end goal. It is important, therefore, that we get this right.

“Children in Scotland has been involved in a number of projects to contribute to the growing body of evidence around education reform. We hope these, as well as ongoing reviews into education in Scotland will contribute to a national conversation and meaningful, demonstrable improvement in this area.”

The  National Improvement Framework and improvement plan was published in December 2021 and sets out the vision and priorities for Scottish education, as well as national improvement activity that is to be undertaken.

A consultation seeking views on improving the collection of data to assess progress towards closing the poverty-related attainment gap closed on 18 July.

Click here to read our response in full

Education Framework

Read our response to the Education NIF consultation

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Manifesto 2021-26

Including calls on Tackling Inequality, Early Years and Learning

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Our vision and values

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People, not numbers

Latest news: New report reveals young people's views on data

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National Planning Framework response: “Wellbeing must be at the heart of the process”

9 March 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework Position Statement, calling for a greater emphasis on health and wellbeing and the adoption of a people-focused planning system.

In our response we welcome the broad intersectional approach in the government's statement, and acknowledge its reference to inequalities in communities, such as lack of green space, unsuitable play areas or vacant and derelict land.

We also support the commitment to net-zero emissions in future planning.

However, we believe it is vital that the planning framework takes account of the needs of children, young people and families and facilitates their meaningful involvement in the development and planning process to guide decision and investment.

In our Manifesto for the 2021-26 Scottish Parliament we call for consideration to be given to the UNICEF Child Friendly Cities model, which aims to ensure that children and young people's needs are at the heart of local decision-making and planning.

This is an approach that the Scottish Government should embrace as part of the planning framework, we argue.

Investment in person-centred planning, a commitment to a wellbeing economy and place-based investment are also amongst our top-level recommendations.

Chris Ross, Children in Scotland's Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer, said:

“The Scottish Government’s position statement outlines a range of positive policy suggestions that could support better places and, most importantly, better outcomes for those who live there.

"To achieve this, it is vital that children, young people and families have input to ensure investment reflect their needs.

"We know from our own project work that they have clear views about the places they live and what could change.

"It is important for the Scottish Government, planning authorities and others involved in local planning to learn from our projects, and others like them, about how to meaningfully engage children and young people in discussions about place and planning for better outcomes for all.”

The response highlights the requirement to tackle wider systemic issues such as poverty, inequality and discrimination.

It recognises the need for both meaningful resources and political will in order to deliver a truly wellbeing and people-centred planning system.

Click here to read our response in full

The response supports many of the recommendations and calls made within our Manifesto for 2021-26, published in November 2020.

Click here to find out more about the Manifesto

Children in Scotland Manifesto 2021-26

Read more about the themes and calls in our latest Manifesto

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Project: Health Inequalities

Exploring how community and place impacts on health and wellbeing

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Project: Changing Gears

Young people's views on bike ability, road safety, health and the environment

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Housing 2040

We respond to the Housing 2040 Consultation (Feb 2020)

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News: We need a rights-based housing policy

Read our news item with key messages from the consultation response

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Scottish Government "must act on UNCRC incorporation now"

Children in Scotland has reiterated its call for full incorporation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and urged the Scottish Government to take forward legislation as soon as possible.

Responding to the Scottish Government’s consultation on UNCRC incorporation, we are urging Ministers to lay a bill before Parliament before the end of the year.

However, we have rejected calls for a so-called ‘Scottish suite’ – where the UNCRC articles are rewritten for Scotland’s policy landscape – warning that such a move risks diluting the principles of the convention and undermining children’s rights.

Instead, we support full and direct incorporation. This would create a robust legal framework where:

  • protecting children's rights is legally binding in court
  • all public authorities are legally obliged to act in a way which is compliant with the UNCRC and its Optional Protocols, and
  • there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation

Our position on incorporation is directly informed by the views of children and young people on the topic, including those shared at our UNCRC Discussion Day held in July.

David Mackay, Children in Scotland’s Policy and Projects Manager said:

“The UNCRC is the minimum standard of rights for children and young people. Scotland now has a great opportunity to go above and beyond doing just the bare minimum.

“Incorporation of the UNCRC into domestic law would provide a stronger platform for promoting, and upholding, children’s rights across Scotland, building on the foundations which are already in place.

“We strongly oppose rewriting to suit our current legal framework and instead would hope to see full and direct incorporation, similar to the way the Human Rights Act has been absorbed into law.

“We urge the Scottish Government to progress a Children’s Rights (Scotland) Bill as soon as possible. The First Minister’s commitment to incorporate the UNCRC into law by the end of this parliamentary term gives a clear and immovable deadline to work to which requires swift and efficient action.”

We support the Children’s Rights (Scotland) Bill and the model for incorporation, as drafted by Together and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, and call for it to be laid before Parliament before recess begins on 21 December.

We would also like to see a timeframe for roll-out which allows time for local authorities and other public bodies to make necessary arrangements to embed successfully.

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UNCRC Consultation response

We call for full, direct incorporation and swift action

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UNCRC Children and Young People's Consultation

Explore children and young people's views on Incorporation of the UNCRC

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25 Calls

Our 25 calls campaign, firmly rooted in the principles of the UNCRC, makes a series of calls which we believe will change children's lives for the better. Read the calls and responses, and view press coverage on the 25 Calls pages.

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New evidence bank: CYP voices

Find out more about this national resource that directly captures the voices of children and young people

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Children’s intimate healthcare needs in schools must be met. So who’s responsible?

Children in Scotland is calling for clearer guidance on the role of school staff in meeting pupils’ healthcare needs.

Enquire, the Scottish Advice Service for Additional Support for Learning, has received calls from parents who go into school to administer medicine or meet their child’s intimate care needs on a regular basis.

Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy at Children in Scotland, said:

“There is evidence that intimate care, for example meeting toileting needs and administering medicine, is an issue of concern for both school support staff and parents of children who have additional support needs.

“Some parents have told us that they have to take time off work to go into school to meet their child’s needs, and in some cases are unable to work as a result of this.

“It also has a negative impact on the child’s capacity to develop greater independence.

“The Scottish Government’s new guidance on meeting children’s healthcare needs in school is an opportunity to clarify the role and responsibility of school staff to meet pupils’ healthcare needs in an appropriate and respectful way.”

Children in Scotland and Enquire have submitted a joint response to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on Guidance on Healthcare Needs in Schools.

Consultation response

Consultation on Guidance on Healthcare Needs in Schools (April 2017)

Read consultation


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