By Aileen MacLennan
Argyll and Bute Council is continuing to deliver a range of services aimed at improving the educational attainment and life chances of care experienced children and young people.
The Council has confirmed that significant improvements achieved during 2018/19 in relation to scrutiny, audit and outcomes for the area’s care experienced children and young people have been sustained into 2019/20 – including additional support related to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic.
Cllr Yvonne McNeilly and a classroom of young people.
In 2018, as part of the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education and Attainment Scotland Fund (an initiative designed to support young people affected by poverty and deprivation across Scotland), specific funding was directed towards supporting children and young people with care experience.
As of 8th May 2020, there are 128 Looked After Children on the rolls of Argyll and Bute education settings.
For the current academic year 2019/20, Argyll and Bute Council was awarded a grant of up to £118,800. This has been directed to various areas including funding posts such as the Education Lead (Principal Teacher) for Looked After Children and Health and Well-being Liaison Officers as well as supporting enhanced curriculum activities for the Council’s Children’s Houses and transport to allow extended curriculum provision for pupils on flexible learning plans.
The latest data has shown significant improvements in education provision for care experienced children and young people, increased scrutiny and tracking of progress, reduced exclusions, increased use of flexible approaches to learning and greater understanding of the impact of trauma amongst staff.
Recruitment is currently underway to create a bank of Council officers who can provide trauma-informed mentoring and support for pupils who struggle to engage with the conventional curriculum.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the remit of the Education Lead (Principal Teacher) for Looked After Children has been extended to include additional duties offering support to children and families. These have included work with the Education Psychology team to develop the Argyll and Bute Vulnerability Assessment and Support Framework to identify and provide support for vulnerable children and young people across agencies including Social Work, Health and Education.
Additional steps have also been taken to communicate key child protection messages directly to all children, young people and families and on raising awareness around digital poverty and alternatives to online connection.
Policy lead for education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly, said: “The Council is committed to improving the educational attainment and life chances of care experienced children and young people and to delivering the support our schools and teachers need to make that possible.
“Clearly, the coronavirus crisis has created huge challenges for our schools and across the wider education sector and we are acutely aware of the potential for the current situation to adversely affect our care experienced children and young people. For that reason, we have worked to extend our support wherever possible.
“It’s gratifying to see that the improvements being made in support for our care experienced youngsters are being maintained and our focus will be on extending this as our community tackles the issues raised by the current crisis.”