Section 4 - National policy context
This section provides a brief summary of the policy context in which 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to preventing and managing school exclusions' is set. The specific legislative context in relation to the prevention and management of school exclusions is outlined in more detail in other sections of this document.
Since the last publication (March 2011) of 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions', the policy and legislative landscape has changed as it continues to increasingly emphasise the importance of wellbeing and relationships in shaping positive outcomes for children and young people. This document emphasises the need for all learning establishments to have robust policies and procedures in place to ensure a consistent approach to improving relationships and behaviour across the whole community and for all learning establishments to consider children's rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child ( UNCRC)  .
One of the key legislative changes which has been implemented since the last publication of 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions' is the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (2014). Some of the key messages and terminology from this Act are referenced throughout this document. The Act sets out new statutory responsibilities for local authorities in relation to the wellbeing of children and young people deemed to be at risk of becoming looked after, as well as setting out the eight aspects of wellbeing which should be considered when assessing needs. It also sets out additional statutory responsibilities for Corporate Parents, as specified, in relation to those who are looked after. All education authority guidance on the prevention and management of exclusions should take cognisance of this legislation, particularly with regard to promoting the rights and wellbeing of children and young people; and when using the new support structures, as outlined in the paragraph below, to help identify any problems at an early stage.
Since 2008, Getting it Right for Every Child ( GIRFEC) has been the national approach to improving outcomes for children and young people. GIRFEC takes a holistic approach to the wellbeing of the child or young person. The eight wellbeing indicators are safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, responsible, respected and included. GIRFEC advocates preventative work and early intervention to support children, young people and their families through the provision of strong universal services, and partnership working with other services when needed. The approach supports children and young people's rights and involves children and young people in any decisions that affect them in line with the core principles of UNCRC (see also page 36 for further information).
GIRFEC recognises that while children and young people will have different experiences in their lives, all of them have the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to grow and develop and to reach their full potential. All parts of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 are underpinned by the GIRFEC approach.
Some of the other key drivers upon which the current guidance is set are outlined below:
- Learning in health and wellbeing as part of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE), ensures that children and young people develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. Responsibility of All emphasises that some aspects of health and wellbeing are the responsibility of all adults in schools, working together to support the learning and development of children and young people.
- 'Building the Ambition', National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare  provides detailed, practical guidance on the experiences and interactions necessary to deliver the learning journey of babies, toddlers and young children. The aims of this document should inform how early learning and childcare practitioners support wellbeing and positive relationships within early learning and childcare settings.
- One of the most important aims of the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education  is to drive improvements in learning for individual children and to ensure that there is a purpose to assessment and information gathering. More robust and transparent assessment and information gathering should help schools and local authorities to support children and young people more appropriately. As well as a focus on literacy and numeracy, it will also bring greater focus to improvements in the health and wellbeing of children and young people.
- The Scottish Government recognises the need to raise the attainment of all children and young people to ensure every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a specific focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. Scottish Government have set out their aims for this within the Scottish Attainment Challenge  . This is set within the context of Curriculum for Excellence and targets improvement in the areas of literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing. Addressing the barriers faced by children and young people in these circumstances should also impact on the gap in the exclusion figures for those groups most likely to be excluded, as referenced on page 10.
- Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland's Youth Employment Strategy  aims to ensure that there is a work relevant education experience on offer for all our young people and that a rich blend of learning, including vocational education, is valued.
- Getting It Right For Looked After Children and Young People Strategy 2015-2020 sets out what the Scottish Government are doing and what is expected of other corporate parents. The strategy outlines the three priority areas of work to improve outcomes for looked after children and young people. These are early engagement, early permanence and improving the quality of care with the thread running through the strategy of the importance of relationships. Children who are looked after at home have been identified as a particular priority as they tend to have the worst outcomes of all looked after children and have a complex range of needs. Of particular relevance is that children who are looked after at home have, on average, the lowest school attendance (79%) compared with the average for all looked after children (89%), which in turn is lower than for all children (93%). They are also the most likely children who are supervised in a community setting to be excluded from school, and have the lowest average educational tariff figures. Only 10% of children who are looked after at home achieve qualifications at level 5, compared with 25% of all looked after children. Just under 60% of children who are looked after at home are in positive destinations 9 months after leaving school, almost 15% behind all looked after children and over 30% behind all school leavers  .
- 'Preventing offending: Getting it Right for children and young people' The Youth Justice Strategy 2015-2020  places a particular focus on the quality of relationships that children and young people experience as a key factor in building on their strengths as well as helping to manage risks. School inclusion is a key strategic focus within the strategy as it is integral to improving life chances. It pledges to: work with school professionals to build capacity and awareness about working with young people involved or at risk of involvement in offending by the end of 2016; share good practice throughout Scotland in approaches to school inclusion with a focus on preventing offending by the end of 2016; and ensure that young people at risk of disengagement from education are identified early and supported.
Email: Douglas Forrester
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House