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Taken from a Scottish Government campaign poster, the image features a young person with blonde hair. They are wearing a generic school uniform and a hand, make of vape smoke, is touching their shoulder

Scottish Government launches Take Hold campaign to raise awareness of vaping harms

Posted 24.11.23 by Alice Hinds

The Scottish Government has launched a new marketing campaign to inform parents, carers and school pupils about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.

As well as making use of radio and outdoor advertising, the Take Hold marketing campaign will see schools around Scotland provided with digital guidance packs and resources for posters, reinforcing the key message that vapes may quickly become harmfully addictive for children and young people, affecting everything from concentration and mental health to overall mood.

The information campaign comes as a new Tobacco and Vaping Framework is published, setting out key actions to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034, including raising the age limit for sales of cigarettes, and improving services to help people quit.

In addition, the Scottish Government will continue to review what further action is needed to limit the appeal of vapes to children, young people and non-smokers during the first phase of the framework, which will run until November 2025.

Public Health Minister Jenni Minto said: “Smoking damages lives for people across Scotland, and is responsible for one in five deaths – more than 8,000 lives a year. It causes preventable ill health and loss of life of loved ones, is a significant burden on our NHS and social care services, and is the leading preventable cause of health inequalities and costs the economy millions each year in lost productivity.

“Although we have seen smoking rates decline, and Scotland has already introduced a range of world-leading tobacco control measures, we want to do more to help us achieve our goal of being tobacco-free by 2034. This framework will provide direction for a decade and allow us to be more responsive in dealing with a variety of nicotine and tobacco products.

“E-cigarettes are one of a range of tools for adult smokers to quit smoking, but should never be used by young people or adult non-smokers. We must take action to prevent young people using vapes and becoming addicted which will damage their health, and that’s why we’re launching a marketing campaign. It is much easier to never start than it is to give up.”

Changing our World (click here for more), Children in Scotland’s young people’s advisory group, recently produced an evidence paper sharing views on vaping, exploring topics such as the impact of vaping on health and wellbeing, and how the names, packaging and flavours of many vapes are attractive to children and young people. It will be published in November 2023.

An outdoor play park, with a green slide, red monkey bars and yellow pillars.

News: Scotland's play spaces to undergo major changes, with new reforms and funding

Posted 28 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

The Scottish Government has announced new planning reforms and funding to support children and young people’s outdoor play opportunities.

Local authorities will be encouraged to support applications to develop new play spaces, parks and sports facilities under the terms of a new policy.

The policy is included in the fourth iteration of the National Planning Framework, and gives young people more opportunities for play, recreation and sport through planned development and greenspaces.

The government is enacting the changes as a commitment to incorporate children and young people's rights into Scottish law and practice.

Alongside the new planning reforms, regulations will be introduced that require councils to assess current play spaces and consult with local children and communities on their adequacy, so local authorities are better informed when providing future play opportunities.

Tom Arthur, Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth, said:

“Much clearer and stronger policy together with these new requirements will give more children and young people opportunities to spend time outdoors, supporting their wellbeing and fulfilling the Scottish Government’s commitment to incorporate children’s rights into law and practice.

“The Scottish Government is requiring planning authorities across the country to consider play provision when preparing their local development plans.

“By working together through planning policy and practice, we will make Scotland a better place to grow up.”

Funding play parks

The new policy comes as COSLA and the Scottish Government also announce a £50 million investment to refurbish and maintain Scotland's existing play parks.

The 2021 Programme for Government set out £60 million in funding for local authorities to renew public, free-to-access play parks.

£5 million was provided towards this commitment in 2021, and £5 million in 2022.

The additional £50 million will be allocated over the course of this Parliament, with £10 million in 2023/24, £15 million in 2024/25, and £25 million in 2025/26.

Play parks are eligible for the refurbishment funding if they are owned, managed or maintained by local authorities, are designated for play, and free and open to all.

Minister for Children and Young People Clare Haughey said:

“Playing outdoors has huge benefits for children’s physical and mental wellbeing, and play parks ensure children can access high quality safe environments free of charge as families grapple with the cost of living crisis.

“This funding will support local communities to take forward their plans to improve play parks for children in their area.”

Photo of a calculator next to a lined notepad with a pen on it.

News: Undergraduate students will receive greater financial support, starting with Autumn 2023 uplift

Posted 14 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

The Scottish Government has announced an uplift to both SAAS loan funding for undergraduate students and the bursary that helps care-experienced learners to access higher education, amidst cost-of-living pressures.

From the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year, all undergraduate students will be offered an additional £900 as part of their financial support package.

This means that the maximum package, available for estranged students in higher education and other undergraduate learners on the lowest household income bracket, will increase to £9,000 per year (from £8,100).

Minister for Higher Education and Further Education Jamie Hepburn said:

“This rise in support will help to alleviate the financial pressures facing many students as we grapple with the cost-of-living crisis.

"This is the next step in delivering our commitment to providing a total package of student support equivalent to the living wage."

Supporting students with care experience

The non-repayable Care Experienced Bursary will also increase to £9,000 for eligible students in higher education, with a £900 increase also added to the maximum bursary rate for those in further education.

The bursary is available for students who have experience of being in care, including in settings such as foster or residential care, or under a compulsory supervision order or kinship care arrangement.

The increases will be available to students who already attend further or higher education, as well as new students beginning studies in Autumn 2023.

Louise Hunter, CEO of Who Cares? Scotland, said:

"It’s great to hear news of the £900 increase in financial support available to students in Scotland. I’m sure this will be welcomed by many students who are struggling to balance their education and finances during the cost-of-living crisis.

"Raising the Care Experienced Student Bursary to £9,000 per year responds to the specific challenges this group can face. For many Care Experienced people without family to rely on for support during their studies, they can face greater barriers in realising their lifelong right to education."

Photo of young child sitting on a sandy beach, facing away from the camera and towards the sea, where birds are flying over the water

News: Study finds social work interventions vary widely by Scottish local authority

Posted 2 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

New research has found that, nationally, 26.5% of children were referred to social work before the age of five, but figures are not consistent across Scotland.

A new study provides a longitudinal view of Scotland’s social work interventions in the first five years of a child’s life.

From data on children born in year ending 31 July 2013, 13,784 were found to have been subject to social work referral due to welfare concerns before their fifth birthday, a rate of 26.5% of children. 

One in 17 (5.9%) children had been subject to a child protection investigation, and one in 26 (3.8%) had been placed on the Child Protection Register. 

The research was carried out by Emeritus Professor Andy Bilson and independent researcher Marion Macleod at the University of Central Lancashire. They used data collected from Freedom of Information requests relating to child protection information systems from all 32 local authorities in Scotland. 

Disparities in intervention

In 2020, the Independent Care Review in Scotland called for fundamental changes to child welfare services. The Scottish Government issued new national guidance on child protection as a result, with the objective of promoting greater consistency across Scotland’s support and protection for children and families. 

However, the study found large disparities in referrals across local authorities. For example, 18.5% of children were investigated for child protection in Clackmannanshire compared to 2.1% in Aberdeenshire. 

It shows that there is considerable progress to be made to create greater consistency in what families can expect from welfare services. 

The likelihood of investigation was largely unrelated to levels of social deprivation. Four of the five local authorities with the highest referral rates were in the least deprived half of all authorities (Dumfries & Galloway, Falkirk, Midlothian and South Ayrshire).

Independent researcher Marion Macleod said: 

“There are huge financial and emotional implications for families involved in social care child referrals and once they are caught up in the system, they are swallowed up by the whole bureaucratic process. 

“Local authorities in Scotland are being put in an impossible position by the Government and are bound by statutory legislation that isn’t tailored to the needs of the local area. Instead, what is needed is more investment into early years, mental health services, community groups and improved parent advocacy so that the families can get help instead of being victimised.” 

Click here to read the full paper

A photo of young people sitting in chairs facing away from the camera and towards a speaker at a whiteboard.

News: Number of school leavers in positive destinations reaches record high

Posted on 1 March, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Latest figures published by Scottish Government show a record number of 2022 school leavers are in work, training or further education, with the proportion in unemployment at its lowest.

Scotland's Chief Statistician has released new statistics on the destinations of 2021-22 school leavers from publicly funded schools.

The statistics on Attainment and Initial Leaver Destinations show that 95.7% of young people who finished school in the last academic year have progressed in their studies or careers within three months of the academic year end.

Positive destinations include Higher and Further Education, employment, training, personal skills development and voluntary work.

The figure is up from 95.5% in the 2020-2021 school year.

School leavers in employment increased to 25.1%, from 22.6%. Those in Higher Education decreased to 41.2%, from 45.1%. This is in line with figures prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new statistics also show that unemployment amongst school leavers is at its lowest since 2009-10 with 3.9% unemployed three months after leaving school, down from 4.2% in 2020-21.

The gap between school leavers in positive destinations from the most and least deprived areas has also narrowed to 4.4 percentage points – a gap that has reduced by two-thirds since 2009-10.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said:

“This highlights the achievements of Scotland’s learners – making the transition from school can be a daunting time, so it’s great to see a record number of young people progressing in their studies or careers after leaving school.

“Closing the deprivation gap remains a top priority for us and these statistics show we are continuing to make progress, with the gap between school leavers from the most and least deprived areas in work, training or further study down to a record low.”

A close-up of Holyrood's exterior windows, with grey bricks and wooden decoration and protruding stone features

News: Sturgeon centres children and families in resignation speech

Posted 15 February, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Nicola Sturgeon shared government's past and future focus on children, young people and families in speech as she resigns as Scotland's leader.

After more than eight years as First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon resigned this morning in a press conference at Bute House.

The SNP party leader announced her resignation before taking questions from journalists in attendance. 

Children, young people and families were notably central to her speech, both in highlighting the progress made during her tenure and as priorities moving forward.

Stating that she did not plan to leave politics, the First Minister said that “there are many issues I care deeply about and hope to champion in future”, going on to describe two: The Promise, and Scottish independence. 

Sturgeon said:

“One of these is The Promise – the national mission, so close to my heart, to improve the life chances of care experienced young people and ensure that they grow up nurtured and loved.

“My commitment to these young people will be lifelong.”

She also acknowledged changes that the Scottish Government has made since she became First Minister in 2014. Most of the achievements she outlined related to policies for children, young people and families, including:

  • Greater access to university for young people from deprived backgrounds
  • Investments in early learning and childcare
  • Introduction of Scotland's Baby Box
  • Launch of the Scottish Child Payment.

"As the Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed last week, the poorest families with children in Scotland are now £2000 better off as a result of our policies.”

Journalists in attendance also centred many of their questions on policies linked to young people.

One asked the First Minister whether she had regrets over areas that had may be considered unsuccessful, including the education attainment gap.

Sturgeon responded by noting investment expansion for early years childcare and education and the attainment gap:

“If you're a young person from a deprived background or a background like the one I come from you’ve got a better chance than you’ve ever had before of going to university.”

In the final question, one journalist asked what issues the First Minister would campaign for upon returning to the backbench. Sturgeon replied with two priorities, one being the rights of care experienced young people: 

“I certainly will continue to champion that cause. It’s one that got under my skin and into my heart in a way that few other issues did over my time as First Minister. Beyond that, we’ll see.”

Research reveals almost half of secondary school pupils are missing out on hobbies

Media release

10 February

New research reveals that almost half of young people of secondary school age are missing out on out-of-school activities or hobbies, with young people living in areas of high deprivation even less likely to take part. 

New Ipsos research commissioned by Children in Scotland asked 1500 young people aged 11 to 18 about the clubs and activities they took part in after school or at the weekend.  

It found that only 54% of young people of secondary school age said that they take part in a club or activity outside of school. This dropped to 45% among secondary school aged children living in the areas of highest deprivation, compared with 65% in the most affluent areas. Those living with a physical or mental health condition were also less likely to take part in clubs or activities out of school.  

Children in Scotland commissioned the research to support the call to government for a national hobby premium to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland have free access to a hobby or activity of their choosing.

Click here to read our policy briefing: “Why Scotland should introduce a Hobby Premium: The Right to Play”

Click here to read our Manifesto for 2021-26 which includes the call for a Hobby Premium.

Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have a right to leisure and play. Hobbies are a way for children to play, explore their interests, build skills, make mistakes and grow.  

Evidence from countries where support for hobbies is in place, for example Finland, shows that taking part in hobbies has a hugely positive impact on children and young people’s confidence, wellbeing and learning. Benefits can be both immediate and longer term. However, barriers such as cost and availability can mean that not all children have equal access to hobbies and their associated benefits.

Survey results

Providing data on the current Scottish context, responses from 1533 secondary school pupils as part of an Ipsos survey, conducted between September - December 2022, revealed that: 

  • Overall, about half (54%) of secondary school aged children (S1 to S6) say they are currently taking part in an out of school club or activity 
  • Less than half (45%) of secondary school aged children living in the areas of highest deprivation are taking part in an out of school club or activity. This compares with 65% in the most affluent areas.  
  • Young people with a physical or mental health condition are less likely to take part in a club or activity than those with no physical or mental health condition (51% and 62% respectively)  
  • Slightly more children who identify as white take part in clubs and activities than those who identify with another ethnicity (56% and 52% respectively) 
  • Rates of participation in clubs and activities are broadly the same for girls and boys (54% and 55% respectively) 
  • Rates of participation in clubs and activities are broadly the same for those living in rural and urban areas (52% and 54% respectively) 

The call for a hobby premium

On the results from the survey and their implications for children and young people’s health and wellbeing, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation at Children in Scotland, Amy Woodhouse says:

“It’s of real concern that a significant proportion of young people are not taking part in a club or after school activity.  That participation is less common for those living in areas with high deprivation or with a physical or mental health condition adds to evidence from elsewhere that barriers relating to cost and accessibility can be an influencing factor.  

Given the importance of hobbies to physical and emotional wellbeing, we need government to take up the call for a hobby premium and invest in increasing access to hobbies for all children living in Scotland.  

For more information about the Hobby Premium: 

Click here to read our Policy Briefing on the call for a Hobby Premium: Why Scotland should introduce a Hobby Premium: The Right to Play

Click here to read a blog from includem’s Tuisku “Snow” Curtis-Kolu on what we can learn from Finland about establishing a Hobby Premium 

Media contact: Catherine Bromley – email

Notes for editors

Project background 

Children in Scotland launched the call for a Hobby Premium for Scotland within its 2021-26 Manifesto, published in November 2020. The call is supported by Children in Scotland’s members and its partners across the sector including Play Scotland, Early Years Scotland, Children 1st, YouthLink Scotland and Together.


2021-2026 Manifesto

Our Manifesto outlines key suggested changes in policy and legislation - it contains 10 themes and 33 calls

Click here to access

The call for a Hobby Premium

Read our policy briefing: “Why Scotland should introduce a Hobby Premium: The Right to Play”

Click here to read

Consultation responses

Our members' expertise informs positions we take on child policy and legislation

Click here to read

Children's Rights and the UNCRC Training

Bridging policy and practice: bespoke children's rights training tailored to your organisation’s needs

Click here for more
A computer screen with a coding programme open. In front of that is a laptop, with a woman's hand and arm in shot, pointing at something on its screen

News: Pupils encouraged to learn digital technologies with new funding

Posted 8 February, 2023 by Nina Joynson

Applications are open for a digital fund that supports tech initiatives which enhance the development of young people's digital skills.

Now in its eighth year, the Digital Xtra Fund has opened applications for schools and organisations looking to access funding towards extracurricular digital skills education.

Improving digital skills

Launched in 2016, the fund has so far secured almost £1 million to deliver coding and tech clubs and initiatives across Scotland.

The fund was established to increase the number of young people who study tech-related disciplines and further tech careers by encouraging Scottish pupils to learn digital and computing skills.

In the 2022/23 round, the Digital Xtra Fund is supporting 45 initiatives across 24 local authorities, and projects that more than 7,400 young people will be engaged, including a 50% take-up by girls and young women.

Rebecca Court, Head of Marketing at Incremental Group (one of the fund's industry backers) said:

“The Digital Xtra Fund undertakes such important work across Scotland. The team’s commitment to addressing the alarming digital skills gap while also focusing on increasing diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector, a sector where women continue to be underrepresented, is key to everyone’s future success. 

It is vital the corporate sector and government recognise that when we support grassroots initiatives, especially for young people, it is a win-win for communities, industry, and Scotland as a whole.”

Industry support

The fund receives support from donations, sponsorship and grants, and distributes these funds to eligible organisations that advance the use of digital and computing science education in Scotland.

It is currently in negotiations with several companies to increase the level of funding awarded. The Scottish Government has also pledged to match industry support.

The cost of living crisis and economic downturn has put a strain on charities and organisations that support the Fund, and now Kraig Brown, the Fund's Parternship and Development Manager, has called for new partners to invest, especially those in the corporate sector.

Currently, Baillie Gifford, J.P. Morgan, Accenture, ScotlandIS, Skyscanner, and Incremental Group are on board as industry sponsors, amongst others.

Click here to learn more about applying for the 2023-24 grant

A newborn baby being held by their mother. She is looking down them with the father nearby.

News: Perinatal mental health services receive £1m funding boost

Posted 31 January, 2023 by Nina Joynson

A fund that has supported more 7,000 individuals with perinatal mental health issues has received a new round of investment for 2023-24

The Scottish Government has announced additional funding for the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (PIMH) Fund, to support charities that provide one-to-one and group support and care.

Estimates suggest that up to 20% of mothers and 10% of fathers are affected by poor perinatal mental health, and 10-22% of babies and young children also experience mental health difficulties.

Between April 2023 and March 2024, £1 million will be invested in 34 charities that help new families in the early stages of parenthood.

The PIMH Fund was launched in October 2020 with a £2.5 million investment over two-and-a-half-years. An extension to the existing Fund at the current level was announced by Kevin Stewart, Minister of Mental Wellbeing and Social Care in January 2023.

The Fund is managed by Inspiring Scotland and distributed amongst charities that support parents, carers, infants and families through the provision of counselling, peer support, parenting support and training.

More than 7,000 individuals have been supported by the Fund, through charities including Dads Rock, Starcatchers, MindMosaic and Home-Start branches across Scotland.

Celia Tennant, Chief Executive of Inspiring Scotland, said:

“We’re delighted the Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Fund has been extended for another year. This will enable us to work alongside our charity partners to continue offering their essential perinatal services that support families with babies.

“This support is needed now more than ever, and these organisations are a lifeline to parents and families, offering empathetic support with trusted relationships right at the heart of their services.”

Photo of the Isle of Lewis. The sea is in the foreground, with green land beyond it with two white houses, and a hill and the sky behind.

News: Government announces new investments in Gaelic education

Posted 26 October, 2022 by Nina Joynson

The Scottish Government has announced that seven education and community projects will receive funding under the Gaelic Capital Fund for 2022-23.

This year, almost £3 million will be invested in Gaelic education and community projects. The announcement comes as the Government seeks public opinion on Gaelic and Scots as it aims to strengthen support for the language.

The Gaelic Capital Fund is in its fourteenth year, with investments used to support the growth and number of Gaelic projects active throughout Scotland.

The 2022-23 Fund will provide support for:

  • developing Gaelic education on Barra (£1 million)
  • developing Gaelic school units in Tain, Paisley and Skye (£1.4 million)
  • improving facilities at Glasgow Gaelic School (£465,000)
  • delivering a new classroom at Tong Primary School on the Isle of Lewis (£54,000)
  • developing education and community-led projects on Islay (£62,152).

Secretary for Education and Skills Shirley-Anne Somerville said:

“Gaelic is a vital part of Scotland’s cultural identity and we are determined that it continues to flourish by improving access for people to both learn and use the language at every opportunity possible.

We will further strengthen Gaelic and Scots by increasing the number of people using these languages. To that end, we will introduce a Scottish Languages Bill this parliamentary term."

New legislation

In August, the Scottish Government opened a consultation on the new Gaelic and Scots and the Scottish Languages Bill. The Bill would act as a commitment to the languages and further support for their development in the country.

The consultation is seeking views on the establishment of a new strategic approach to Gaelic medium education, the structure and functions of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the creation of a recognised Gàidhealtachd (a designated Gaelic-speaking area), and the support required to preserve the Scots language.

The consultation is open until 17 November 2022.

Click here to add your views to the consultation