Includem has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Education (Scotland) Bill.
Includem is a specialist Scottish charity which provides intensive, personalised support for vulnerable young people and their families. We believe that no young person is beyond help and that with a responsive, consistent service at the time of most need we can help rebuild relationships and deliver positive, sustainable outcomes.
Our work is focused on prevention – prevention of offending or reoffending, prevention of unnecessary accommodation away from home and prevention of exclusion from school. In all cases our framework of support consists of professional one to one relationships with focused work to deal with the underlying needs and challenges in order to develop hope, aspiration, resilience, and improved family relationships.
An increasing focus of our work is on earlier intervention through direct referrals from schools. We support young people who are at risk of exclusion and who have poor attendance and engagement with school.
Overview of consultation response
Includem’s experience is working with young people to improve their engagement with school by supporting them outside of school hours at home and in the community.
Includem strongly welcomes the continued focus on the attainment gap and on improving educational outcomes for young people. We welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation on the provisions of the Education (Scotland) Bill.
We particularly welcome the vision around ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, and noting the importance of addressing the unacceptable variability in attainment across the country.
We also welcome the recognition of the role that parents and families play in the education of children and the impact that improved parental engagement has on social skills, behaviour and relationships in school. However we are concerned that the actions outlined in this proposed Bill will do little to improve the participation of parents who are currently not engaged in their child’s education. In particular there is very little emphasis on improving the underlying factors at home which may be preventing school engagement.
We are also concerned about how little reference is made to the principles of Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) in the Bill and the potential for increased decision making by schools leading to a fracturing of the holistic approach taken by many local authorities. This could be a regressive step making it more difficult to coordinate relevant services like housing or social work or health services which is so crucial for those young people who should be the focus of any work on closing the attainment gap.
We would encourage the government to look more broadly at the community based services and interventions which have a positive impact on engaging young people in school in an effective and sustainable way. Changes to governance, collaboration and improvement plans may all have a positive impact, but will not, in our view, be sufficient to reduce the attainment gap directly. The proposed content of this Bill represents a missed opportunity in providing the support young people and families need to tackle the underlying causes of the attainment gap.