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National Care Service consultation: Concerns over lack of detail for children’s services and unrealistic timeframe

10 November 2021

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s Consultation on the National Care Service, raising concerns about a lack of clarity in the proposals, the complexities of the proposed new structure and the timeframe of implementation.

Although recognising the value of creating a more coherent system, we are concerned about how the proposals align with commitments to improve work in a number or areas, including through The Promise and transitions for children and young people with support needs.

Reflecting the concerns from our membership, we highlight a lack of communication with the children’s sector and clarity on how children’s services will be fully integrated.

We share concerns, drawn from our membership and consultation activity, that the key role of the third sector is missed in the consultation documents, and worry the heavy focus on social work and statutory services will only exacerbate the lack of parity between third sector and statutory services.

We also question the rationale of implementing significant structural change at a time when families and support services are struggling to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Amy Woodhouse, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation, said:

“The proposals are complex, with potentially significant consequences for those who deliver and access children’s and youth services.

"We share our members' concerns over the lack of detail in how the children’s sector and the services currently offered would be integrated into the new structure and both the short and long-term implications of doing so.

“We suggest the Scottish Government undertakes a more detailed analysis of the evidence relating to outcomes for children and young people through the range of structures that currently exist, investing in strengthening those and seeing through their commitments to change and improvement before undertaking such complex and significant structural change.

“With this in mind, we believe the proposed timeframe of introducing National Care Service legislation before summer 2022 is unrealistic and call for the government to review and adjust their plans accordingly.”

Our response also calls for more consideration of the potential impact on funding across non-statutory children’s services, how a new GIRFE (Getting it right for Everyone) approach would work in practice and evidence of a child rights and wellbeing approach to the National Care Service plans.

Click here to read our consultation response in full

A National Care Service for Scotland

Find out more about the Scottish Government's consultation

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Children in Scotland Manifesto 2021-26

Our manifesto outlines key changes in policy and legislation to improve the lives of children and families

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Consultation work and call for evidence

We have responded to a number of consultations on behalf of our members and our wider network

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Encouraging moves on participation, and a promise to hold parliament to account

11 May 2021

How do the political parties’ pledges compare to our own Manifesto calls? Following the Scottish election, our Policy, Projects & Participation Officer Parisa Shirazi reflects on likely areas of agreement during the next parliament – and examples of where we’ll be pushing for faster change to improve children’s lives.

It’s clear from our work that children all over Scotland have views on important issues and suggestions on what they think should be better. These range from the Inclusion Ambassadors’ perspectives on how additional support for learning in schools could be improved, to our young people’s advisory group Changing our World’s prioritising of the environment as a key issue for them, to the Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe’s recommendations to the Scottish and UK Governments regarding Brexit.

We believe that any government and parliament must listen to the views of its children and young people to enact policies to improve their lives. That was the starting point for the creation of our 2021-26 Manifesto, which presents 33 asks of the next Scottish Parliament.

Click here for more information about our 2021-26 Manifesto

Following last Thursday’s election, the SNP will again form a government. It’s therefore useful to review their manifesto promises for children, young people and their families, identify policies that progress children’s rights – and explore areas where their pledges could be bolder.

Rights and democracy: positive steps on Citizens’ Assemblies

Young people should be able to participate in democracy and have their rights respected. One of our calls in our Manifesto was that children and young people would have a say in key government decision-making processes, including Citizens’ Assemblies, building on the success of enfranchising 16- and 17-year-olds. Therefore, we welcome the SNP’s commitment to establishing an assembly for children and young people under 16.

Scottish Labour had committed to ensuring young people are represented in national and local bodies through a statutory right to consultation, and we hope that this can also be considered. We are encouraged that the SNP supports incorporating international human rights, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Convention of the Elimination for Racial Discrimination, and the Convention of Elimination of Discrimination against Women. We advocated for all of these treaties in our Manifesto because incorporating them is essential for embedding the rights of children and young people into law. The SNP and the Liberal Democrats have also committed to incorporating the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights into law, which could lead to positive changes in the areas of social security, livings standards, health and education.

Reconsidering the minimum age of criminal responsibility

Since 2019, the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland has been 12 (raised from the age of eight). Although this raise was welcomed, we do not believe it went far enough. If Scotland wants to continue to be a world leader on children’s rights, we believe they should readdress how children displaying harmful behaviours are treated. Scotland must learn from other nations that have higher minimum ages of criminal responsibility and take childhood development into account. In light of this, our Manifesto calls on the next parliament to raise the age to 16. The Liberal Democrats committed to bringing this into line with UN recommendations and Scottish Labour pledged to reviewing it. Let’s hope the parties will work together on this issue.

Security for refugees and asylum seekers

Scotland should be a country that welcomes people all over the world and appreciates the diversity of its society. Refugees must be provided with a safe and secure environment. We acknowledge that many areas that affect refugees and those seeking asylum are reserved to Westminster. But our Manifesto calls on the parliament to work with the UK Government to develop policies and practices that will benefit all those seeking asylum. We are encouraged to note that four out of the five main political parties (SNP, Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats) have made a range of commitments to supporting this group.

Therefore, we look forward to the SNP acting on their pledge to improve existing support for families to have access to safe accommodation. And we hope that they will work constructively with other parties to bring about other types of support, such as the development of national standards on refugee settlement, including the accommodation and care of unaccompanied children (a policy proposed by Scottish Labour).

Education: PSE reform, making arts accessible and commitments on diversity

If you followed our pre-election social media campaign, you would have seen that education is a key issue for Scotland’s young people. Changing our World created an array of materials directed at decision-makers advocating for the changes they would like to see in Personal and Social Education (PSE). PSE was not mentioned in the SNP’s manifesto and although we are pleased to note their pledge to include a new programme of anti-racism education in schools which will rely on local authority uptake, we hope that the SNP will work constructively with their Green colleagues to improve the PSE curriculum in schools.

We were pleased to note that various parties appreciated the importance of arts and music in schools and increasing the accessibility of this for pupils through measure such as abolishing fees for music and arts education. But we believe that this can be bolder and a hobby premium should be introduced. This policy would grant all children and young people in Scotland free access to a hobby or activity of their choice within or around the school day. Furthermore, none of the parties have committed to making wellbeing a central focus of the curriculum or increasing the diversity of the education workforce. We will continue our work and campaigning in these areas.

Building on a base of participation

This election was noteworthy for having the highest turnout of voters in a Scottish election, the galvanisation of young voters and the fact it was the first in which those with refugee status and foreign nationals could vote. In this blog I’ve identified welcome policy areas in the SNP’s Manifesto alongside notable gaps and some measures that could be pushed further. We at Children in Scotland will continue to hold parliament and the Scottish Government to account over the next five years.

About the author

Parisa is Policy, Projects & Participation Officer and joined us in January 2021

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2021-26 Manifesto

Our Manifesto features 33 calls across 10 themes, from learning to democracy

Click here to read it

"Making political ideas accessible"

A Children and Young People’s Version of our Manifesto for 2021-26 is also available

Click here to find out more

"Listen to young people on education"

Our young advisory group produced campaign materials linked to the Manifesto

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"Let pupils pursue their passions"

Amy Woodhouse wrote a blog for TES about the importance of a 'hobby premium'

Click here to read more

"It's our future too"

Our Panel on Europe partnership project heard young people's views on Scotland post-Brexit

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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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GRA reform is a fundamental equality issue for trans young people. So why delay it?

Children in Scotland has responded to today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that, instead of going ahead with reform of the Gender Recognition Act, there will be a further consultation and the establishment of a working group on data, sex and gender.

The Scottish Government also announced that there will be no legal GRA process for under-16s, and that LGBT Youth Scotland guidance on supporting trans young people in schools will now be replaced by Scottish Government guidance.

Our Head of Policy, Projects and Participation Amy Woodhouse said:

“While we acknowledge the challenging nature of this debate, at its heart this is a human rights issue.

“In that light we are disappointed in this delay, and sceptical about what the value of further consultation would be.

“The Scottish Government has already conducted a full consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act.

“It ran from 9th November 2017 to 1st March 2018 and received more than 15,000 responses, with a clear majority of Scottish respondents in favour of reform.

“In the wake of this, last autumn the government pledged to bring forward legislation on gender recognition in its next legislative programme.

“Since then many organisations advocating for trans rights have done their best to share the lived experiences of trans young people, highlighting the injustices they face and articulating this as an equality and rights issue that must be resolved.

“We have fully supported them in doing this and will continue to do so.

“Transgender people in the UK are at a higher risk of homelessness, violence, self-harm and suicide – as made clear by LGBT Youth Scotland’s 2018 report Life in Scotland for LGBT Young People.

“Given this, we would question what message delaying GRA reform sends about the Scottish Government’s commitment to equality for trans young people and the trans community.

“We would also question this delay in the context of what should be an increasingly rights-based approach to policymaking and legislation for children and young people.

“For our 25 Calls campaign, activist Jade Reynolds said that comprehensive reform of the GRA could have the potential to give trans young people the chance to live full, happy lives – but that the challenge would be turning changes in legislation into changes in practice and at societal levels.

Jade said: ‘We need to make sure that all trans people have the legal protections they deserve; processes are affordable and accessible; trans people are not forced to prove their existence by arbitrary means; and society starts accepting them and their gender identity.’

“Today, we’ve taken a step back from achieving those goals at a time when we should be showing solidarity with trans young people and giving them hope for a better future.”

Click here to read Jade’s call, part of our 25 Calls campaign


LGBT Youth Scotland

Making Scotland the best place to grow up for LGBTI young people

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Call 8 of 25 Calls: Reform the GRA

Give trans young people the chance to live full, happy lives, argues Jade Reynolds

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Wanted: strengthened rights and equality

Find out more about our 25 Calls campaign

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“There is a feeling we are here to serve the economy rather than for the economy to serve us. We have to turn the tables”

As part of our 25 Calls campaign we interviewed Professor Richard  Wilkinson, co-author of the groundbreaking book The Spirit Level and its 2018 follow-up The Inner Level. In part five of our interview, he discusses how work as wage labour affects us emotionally, and inequality’s impact on trust in social relationships

 Children in Scotland: What do you think about the rise of automation in how it may affect the economy and employment?

RW: I think it may be one of the most crucial challenges we will face. If the forecasts are right, a third or a half of all jobs are vulnerable to automation. The economy may be unable to create enough replacement jobs. Even the hope that the economy should create enough jobs is really only a desire that we should carry on as we are. I would much rather we brought on automation as fast as we can and used it to reduce the burden of work to give us a society with much more leisure so we had time for each other, for friends and family and so on. Perhaps work would then not be experienced as being as oppressive as many people find it now. Without sharing the work and enjoying more leisure, the threat of automation holds out the possibility that a few people will remain in jobs and will be very wealthy and there will be vast unemployment for the rest. It’s crucially important that we find ways of sharing the work, reducing working hours, and introduce some form of universal basic income.

Perhaps I idealise it, but I think if people had more free time and some financial support independently of work, in addition to what they get from work, we might all start building a sharing economy – a free economy. Wikipedia is the example that’s so often given, but there are also rock groups that put their music online that you can download for free, and the rewards they get are knowing that people like their stuff. And it might be the same if you do blogs, provide technical help online, or you write poetry or whatever. The reward is other people’s appreciation, which is wonderfully unalienated… that’s what human interaction ought to be about.

CiS: And the feeling that comes from that needs to be properly valued and understood.

RW: Yes. I’m afraid that what wage labour does is to turn activity that has a real social purpose into something that is self-serving. You may be doing important work in the health service that benefits other people’s health, and maybe you relate to it as your contribution to others’ wellbeing and value their appreciation of the care they receive, but you may find it just a grind and a taskmaster that you do only for the pay, and feel used, exploited and unappreciated by an employer. Ideally, if we have more democratic workplaces work might become more a matter of social purpose, less a matter simply of wage labour.

People work longer hours in more unequal societies. That seems to be because money becomes more important in those societies – it’s through status competition and consumerism that we show our ‘worth’.

CiS: I’m interested in what you say in the book about the idea of us constantly looking for economic growth but that it’s not necessarily going to feed into improvements in children and young people’s wellbeing. What do you think of that particular tension, when our mindsets are so driven by this idea that we need economic growth, how do you begin to challenge that and insert a different argument?

RW: To some extent, not necessarily at a very conscious level, there is an awareness that consumerism is a sort of zero-sum game, that we have economic growth but people aren’t happier now than they were in childhood. I think that’s quite a common perception. And going with that is, I think, a feeling that it is as if we as human beings are here to serve the economy rather than for the economy to serve us. Clearly, we have to turn the tables on those ideas. Economic growth was essential in the past because it is economic growth which has transformed the quality of our lives and still has to transform the quality of people’s lives in poorer countries. But in the rich countries it’s largely finished its work. There are diminishing returns to economic growth. Among the rich countries, GNP per capita can double without improving measures of health and happiness. Happiness just flatlines, some measures of the quality of life and things like the general progress indicator actually seem to be slowly declining in rich countries. Health goes on improving, but completely unrelated to economic growth. Even if you look at changes in incomes over 10, 20, or even 40 years, you can’t see close relationships. What’s driving improvements in health no longer appears to be rises in our real incomes as a society. Economic growth no longer drives wellbeing.

As soon as you recognise that economic growth is no longer producing the real social benefits in terms of a better quality of life for all of us in the way it once did, you have to start thinking, how do we improve the quality of life now? And of course, again and again the answers to this question is that we have to improve the social environment. For most of us, it’s the social environment that makes the key difference to happiness and unhappiness – friendship, involvement in community life and the quality of close relationships, what’s going on in our intimate circle and how we feel seen and judged. And it’s here that greater equality can make such an enormous difference, and why it’s so important to tackle it.

CiS: Do you think we should be concentrating policy efforts more on achieving equality of outcome or equality of opportunity?

RW: Equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are not things that we can change independently of each other. If you want to improve equality of opportunity for children, probably the most important thing you can do is to reduce the inequality of outcome amongst parents. Parents tend to pass on their advantages or disadvantages to their children. Countries with greater equality of outcome have much greater equality of opportunity for children. I don’t know whether one should see it as the social ladder becoming steeper in societies with bigger inequalities of outcome. I think it’s partly, as I said before, that class and status become more powerful. The obstacles in overcoming your background become greater and the downward social prejudices increase, making it harder for children to move up.

But we also need to move towards a society where social position is not the thing you judge people by most. One of the things I found interesting when we were writing The Spirit Level is that people sometimes said that the problem with children from poor backgrounds is a poverty of aspiration. But when we looked at international data on children’s aspirations, we found it tended to go the opposite way round; children’s aspirations were slightly higher in more unequal societies. However, when you looked to see what aspirations were about among kids in unequal societies, what was overwhelmingly important to them was to earn a lot of money. Inequality makes them feel they’ve got to be celebrities and film stars or be CEOs of large companies. Whereas in a more equal society it’s more acceptable to be a skilled craftsman or to have other ways of earning a living. Other occupations are valued more, not looked down on, and money isn’t the only criteria. So to say that inequality of opportunity – low social mobility – is because poor children have poor aspirations, the problem is more that what is actually valued in a very unequal society is simply more money and children grow up with unrealistic aspirations.

As a greater range of ways of life, occupation, and skills become valued, it gets easier for children to see a way ahead. I remember a headmaster who said that the aim in his school was to give children as many different activities and opportunities as possible so everyone could feel they were good at something. And, in a way, that’s what we’ve got to do at the societal level.

Click here to read part one of the interview

Click here to read part two of the interview

Click here to read part three of the interview

Click here to read part four of the interview

Richard Wilkinson is Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, Honorary Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London and Visiting Professor at University of York. He co-founded The Equality Trust with Kate Pickett.

The Inner Level is published by Penguin.

Interview by Chris Small. Edited by Morgaine Das Varma.

About the interviewee

Co-author of 'The Spirit Level', Richard Wilkinson is a world renowned expert on inequality

Click to find out more

Read part 4 of the interview

“When a child moves to secondary, there's a drastic upping of the stakes in social comparison”

Click here to read the Q&A

Read part 2 of the interview

"We use social media more antisocially than we would in an egalitarian society”

Click here to read the Q&A

Read part 3 of the interview

“There is so much more bullying in schools in more unequal societies. But why?”

Click here to read the Q&A

Read part 1 of the interview

“How do we challenge inequality? We need to build a mass movement”

Click here to read the Q&A

25 Calls to improve children's lives

We spoke to Professor Wilkinson as part of our 25 Calls campaign

Click here to read the Q&A

Call 2: what can you do about poverty?

Professor Wilkinson contributed context and analysis to Call 2, on tackling child poverty

Click here to read the Q&A

Parliamentary Monitor

We keep track of the latest policy developments relevant to children and families in Scotland, across the UK, and in Europe. 

This week in the Scottish Parliament

Tuesday 9 February

In the afternoon, in Topical Questions, Joan McAlpine to ask the Scottish Government what its response is to figures published by the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory, which state that people with a learning disability are three times more likely to die of COVID-19 and twice as likely to experience serious disease.

In Committees, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee will hear evidence on the Climate Change Plan.

Wednesday 10 February

In the main chamber First Ministers Questions will include Christine Graham asking the First Minister whether the Scottish Government is considering children returning to full-time education during part of the traditional summer holiday period.

The Education and Skills Committee will consider regulations on the following legislation: The Repayment of Student Loans (Scotland) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 (SSI 2021/8) and Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 (Day 1).

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee will hear evidence on the Climate Change Plan.

Additionally, the Local Government and Communities Committee will look at ‘Community Wellbeing’ – Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

Thursday 11 February

In the main chamber, in Portfolio Questions on the environment brief, Bill Kidd will ask the Scottish Government what environmental measures it has in place to support Scotland’s transition to become net-zero, and Elaine Smith will ask what importance it places on access to clean air and environmentally-friendly spaces within the National Performance Framework.

In Committee Business, the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee will take evidence on the Scottish Government's Budget 2021-22 and EU-UK trade and co-operation agreement

The Equalities and Human Rights Committee will consider the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill at Stage 2 (Day 1).
Click here to read Children in Scotland’s response to the open consultation on the Bill.

This week in Westminster

Tuesday 9 February

In the main chamber, Caroline Lucas will present an adjournment on the UK’s response to the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

Thursday 11 February

In the main chamber, Scottish Affairs Committee will hear oral evidence on Welfare policy in Scotland and the International Trade Committee will meet to hear oral evidence on the UK-EU trading relationship.


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Family voices ‘should shape policy' on food, learning and holidays

In a letter published in the Herald newspaper today, our Chief Executive Jackie Brock responded to a call by the Scottish Conservatives that schools should stay open as “community hubs” during the summer holidays, drawing on Children in Scotland’s learning from our Food, Families, Futures partnership project.

This is an edited extract from her letter:

The Scottish Conservatives’ proposal to keep schools open as “community hubs” throughout the summer raises further questions in an already complex policy debate about the best ways of challenging poverty’s impact on education and health.

Children in Scotland’s FFF project was sparked by headteachers telling us about children and parents in their communities potentially going hungry, missing out on meals because they simply couldn't afford food. This was exacerbated in holiday periods when the schools’ free meal provision ended. They were also worried about the children not getting the chance to have a holiday.

Our experience of the project thus far tells us that, when large-scale business (for example, food distribution company Brakes) and small-scale community organisations take action together to fight these problems, it can have a transformational effect. Families have reported to us their enjoyment of learning more about making food, taking part in activities, and simply being together. But this success has been down to a highly localised approach, where families lead the experience, and partner organisations operate from a deep understanding of each community’s differing characteristics and needs.

At the other end of the spectrum are more macro policy solutions. A Westminster Bill being proposed by Frank Field MP would, if enacted, mandate local authorities in England to facilitate delivery of programmes providing free meals and activities for children during school holidays. There may be pressure for equivalent legislation here.

We think a balance should be struck between learning from a bespoke community-level support and a ‘top down’ national approach that, while well-intentioned, might lose sight of important local realities.

For any policy approach to be effective, it must be sensitive to a multitude of issues. We need to respect school staff’s rights to holidays, and the rights of families not to be bound to their local school outside of term time. We should be wary of thinking that suggests keeping schools open through the summer is a catch-all solution to Scotland’s attainment problem. And we need to be mindful of labeling families as ‘poor’ and communities as ‘deprived’ in a way that doesn’t help them and doesn’t reflect the vitality and fun we saw in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire over the past two months.

FFF is currently being evaluated by academics at Northumbria University who are looking at whether it has contributed to mitigating learning loss. In developing a policy approach that works we need to be drawing on evidence of this kind ‘in the round’, alongside clear-eyed testimony from children and families about what works for them. They deserve our support and their voices need to be heard as we keep this vital issue on the national agenda.


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Response to Equally Safe delivery plan: we must educate to prevent

Children in Scotland has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on its Equally Safe Draft Delivery Plan, supporting the priority areas highlighted but identifying some crucial missing links.

We welcome the policy and delivery plan as an important step towards supporting children's and young people’s rights to be protected from harm and promoting equality and mutual respect for women and girls.

However, drawing on feedback from our members, we have some concerns with the delivery plan, which fails to acknowledge how the media perpetuates sexism and the growing importance and influence of social media in the digital age.

We also highlight the importance young people place on being listened to by adults, and the vital role this plays in the disclosure of violence or abuse.

A key recommendation is ‘educate to prevent’, and to ensure promotion of positive, trusting relationships between children and adults.

Children in Scotland's Head of Policy Amy Woodhouse said:

“We welcome the priorities outlined in the Equally Safe Draft Delivery Plan and recognise the importance of its ambitions. We strongly support the emphasis on equality, respect and violence prevention but would warn that culture change will only occur if there is significant resource invested in ensuring effective delivery.

“It is vital that everyone is included in both the consultation and delivery, from young people themselves, through to parents and educators.

"We absolutely support a key message from our members about the importance of education for prevention.

“It is also crucial that the Delivery Plan places a clear emphasis on developing positive and trusting relationships between children and adults, which will help with the disclosure of incidents of concern, or abuse."

The consultation response also suggests strengthening links to other core areas of policy development, such as the Child Poverty Bill, in recognition of the links between poverty and inequality.

Consultation response

Consultation response on Equally Safe Draft Delivery Plan

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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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