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An emphasis for capturing children and young people's voice as part of SAC2

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To use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty with a focus on tackling the poverty-related attainment gap

These are the main groups in place nationally where children and young people share their views and opinions.

national groups

regional groups

Planning and co-ordination

Child protection



Feedback and next steps


The participation and engagement of children and young people

where to begin: six key stages

We have 32 local authorities across Scotland, each of whom capture pupil voice in a variety of ways. Here are some examples.

  • Aberdeen
  • Renfrewshire
  • Stirling

  • Falkirk
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Clackmannanshire

  • Inverclyde
  • Glasgow
  • Argyll&Bute

  • West Dunbartonshire
  • Orkney Islands

Participation and engagement with children and young people should begin at the project design stage. They should be included in the planning and coordination of activity from the start.

YouthLink Scotland YouthLink Scotland operates a Youth Work and Schools Partnerships Programme - a national capacity-building programme supported through ASF funding of two posts within YouthLink Scotland. It aims to strengthen collaboration between youth work and schools in closing the attainment gap and to provide capacity to measure and communicate impact. Young Scot In 2018, Young Scot launched the ‘Attainment Challenge: National Strategic Partnership’ alongside Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, Improvement Service, Local Authorities, and the National Entitlement Card Programme Office (NECPO) to help close the poverty-related attainment gap and to tackle food and rural poverty. Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) The Cost of the School Day (COSD) programme was developed by the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAG). The aim of the programme is to mitigate the impacts of poverty on school children and contribute to equity in education, by reducing or removing financial barriers to full participation in school and poverty-related stigma that some children may experience. It achieves this by encouraging school level action, following research/engagement with parents, pupils and staff within individual schools.

CELCIS CELCIS convene a network of colleagues from local authorities who are using the Virtual School Head Teacher (VSHT) model or similar. Currently, 16 local authorities in Scotland have chosen to allocate funding from the Care Experienced Children and Young People Fund towards the establishment and development of a VSHT role, or a Care Experienced Team (CET). Hunter Foundation Partnership The Scottish Government announced £19.4 million of funding, partly funded through the ASF, to support MCR Pathways to roll out its Young Scottish Talent mentoring programme in local authorities who wish to participate. Columba 1400 are also being supported through this programme with additional funding of £7.5 million being provided by the Hunter Foundation.

Aberdeenshire Pupil Participation Forum consisting of 57 pupils S1-S6 Primary and secondary UNCRC ‘wee blethers’ Renfrewshire Renfrewshire Youth Voice group MSYP which is the Youth Parliament Youth Ambassadors (feeds into West Partnership work) Stirling Champions Board. The Virtual Headteacher team have members of the Champions Board on their reference group. Pupil voice group around Inclusion CLD programme which leads to events such as the Gathering, which links children, young people and councillors Social Justice Ambassadors programme - programme being piloted this year and has been developed to engage children and young people in the decision making around PEF

Falkirk Pupils voice groups in all schools which the LA links with to gather pupil voice and opinion Champions group to represent the voice of LAAC East Renfrewshire Cycle of pupil questionnaires which are issued at authority level and 3 times a year to around a 25% sample Pupil council reps meet with the Director at the Director's pupil council forums. Champions Board, a forum of care experienced young people who are supported by social work and act as a voice for the care experienced community. Youth Voice group which is supported by the CLD team to give young people an increased local voice in decision making. Clackmannanshire Clacks Youth Voice

Inverclyde Secondary school pupil leadership teams Glasgow Glasgow Schools Young People's Forum (3rd year of the programme) - every school in Glasgow is able to be involved at every event. P6, P7 , S1, S2, ASL pupils. Now digital/virtual. Led to creation of Children's Rights Framework for Glasgow Glasgow Youth Council - run by Glasgow Life Argyll and Bute Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) which contributes to authority-level education plan. A similar group contributes to the LA Child Poverty Action Plan. Pupil voice at school level is variable

West Dunbartonshire Youth Forum Pupil Leaders (secondary schools) Orkney Islands Youth Parliament Variety of groups/forums run by CLD

When conducting any participation and engagement work, the group should be as inclusive as possible. Develop and maintain strong links with organisations that can support children and young people to participate.

Awareness of child rights and meaningful participation complement and strengthen child protection practices. Every staff member must have basic child protection training. Everyone working with children and young people on behalf of Children in Scotland must be familiar with the child protection policy and accompanying practice guidelines.

At the start of any session, always make it clear to the children and young people that there are no right or wrong answers when being consulted about their views.

Good, effective communication underpins everything we do. All communication in participation and engagement work should be accessible, clear and accurate

No project is complete until the children and young people know how their voices have been listened to, what impact their contribution has made, what has happened as a result of what they said, and why

Background on the Scottish Attainment Challenge The Scottish Attainment Challenge was launched by the First Minster in 2015/16, with £750 million invested over the previous parliamentary term and a further £1 billion committed to the Scottish Attainment Challenge over the course of this parliamentary term (2021/22 – 2025/26) to support education recovery and tackle the poverty related attainment gap. The mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge is: to use education to improve outcomes for children and young people impacted by poverty with a focus on tackling the poverty-related attainment gap. This recognises the importance of a range of educational experiences and opportunities and health and wellbeing, as well as educational attainment, for children and young people to enter and sustain positive post school destinations like study or work. It is vital that schools, local authorities and other partners listen to the voices and views of children and young people – and their families – when identifying local approaches to achieving the mission of the Scottish Attainment Challenge. Those local approaches can be undertaken through any one, or combination of, the following funding streams associate with the Scottish Attainment Challenge: Pupil Equity Funding: over £130 million distributed to 97% of schools, empowering headteachers to undertake local approaches to supporting children and young people impacted by poverty, working within the school and with the local authority and community partners. Strategic Equity Funding: over £43 million distributed to all of Scotland’s local authorities to support them to undertake strategic approaches to supporting children and young people impacted by poverty, working with their schools, wider local services and a range of third sector and community partners. Care Experienced Children and Young People funding: c.£11.5 million distributed to all local authorities to support the educational attainment and outcomes of care experienced children and young people. Directors of Education and Chief Social Workers are jointly responsible for the approaches supported by this funding.

A message from Patricia Watson, Strategic Director & Senior Responsible Officer for SAC, Education Scotland. Since the launch of the Scottish Attainment Challenge in 2015 Scotland’s education sector has made tremendous strides in deepening understanding of poverty and how it creates barriers to learning and achievement. The Attainment Scotland Fund, which includes Pupil Equity Funding, has supported additional staffing and professional learning and enabled practitioners across the sector to develop and implement new and innovative approaches to tackling the poverty related attainment gap. From the outset, the Challenge has focused on improvements in leadership, learning, teaching and assessment and working with families and communities impacted by poverty to do the things that work best to support them. These aspects remain central to the refreshed Scottish Attainment Challenge from March 2022 because we know that these are the things that have already made a difference. We also know that more targeted and intensive work in these aspects is necessary to achieve our mission, raise attainment for all and close the poverty related attainment gap. In all of this work the views of children and young people must be heard and taken account of. It is their future we aim to enhance and they have the right to influence the decisions that affect them. To do so requires proactive engagement and responsive action to deliver the necessary changes and to show that we value their stories and ideas and their knowledge, skills and talents. In this way we demonstrate we believe in them and they will help to deepen our learning too. To achieve the aspirations of Curriculum for Excellence a culture of mutual respect between adults and the children and young people they work with is a necessity. This resource is aimed at supporting educators and learners to build and sustain that culture. It builds on previous work in developing learner voice, takes account of recent developments in relation to UNCRC and points to a wide range of examples of effective practice from across the country. We know from the evidence of the impact of Covid -19 that children and young people living in the highest areas of deprivation were a significant proportion of those most affected. In many ways they have helped us to understand the extent of that impact and they can continue to do so. In our response, we must use everything at our disposal to create the opportunities and necessary support to ensure all of our children and young people achieve their aspirations so that those who are most impacted by poverty are as successful as those least impacted by it. Listening to them and empowering them to be active in shaping their learning outcomes and future life chances is vital to really getting it right for each and every one of them. We hope you find this resource engaging and useful. It is intended to support practitioners in varying roles across Scottish education as they work together to support recovery and accelerate the progress of the Scottish Attainment Challenge.


The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child describes participation as: Ongoing processes, which include information sharing and dialogue between children and adults based on mutual respect, and in which children can learn how their views and those of adults are taken into account and shape the outcome of such processes.

7 golden rules for engaging with young people

capturing the voice of children and young people

participatory budgeting

Decision making

Principles and guidelines

Children in Scotland



Learner Participation 3-18

If you have an example of capturing pupil voice under the umbrella of the Scottish Attainment Challenge to share, please get in touch with your Local Authority SAC Lead

documents & Links

Here are some resources you may find useful

* Participatory budgeting (PB) is an innovative and effective mechanism to engage with parents and pupils, in particular those who face barriers to participation. * PB directly involves people in participating in budgeting decisions that will have a direct impact on improving their lives.*It can engage people who would not normally participate with traditional forms of communication.

7 golden rules for engaging with children

click here for website link

Watch a trailer all about PB

Some reflective questions to think about

Do we track pupil participation and progress effectively and make use of this information to plan next steps in learning? Is your school plan based on robust self-evaluation including the views of children and young people? How effective are you at taking account of the views of children and young people in decision-making around change and improvement?