Education: policy context

Government policy documents have made clear reference to how education improvements could deliver improvements in health. Towards A Healthier Scotland, the 1999 white paper on health, envisaged that action on life circumstances, including the provision of expanded pre-school education and better support for vulnerable families, would have many benefits, including better health. Better Health, Better Care: Action Plan 2007, recognises education and skills among the factors underlying inequalities in health, and this is emphasised through Equally Well

The Education (Scotland) Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 imposes duties in relation to reducing pupils' inequalities of outcome.

National educational initiatives include: Curriculum for Excellence which focuses on children and young people aged 3 to 18 years, Raising Attainment for All which aims to support consistent improvment in attainment, Scotland's Adult Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, and support to families, children and young people with additional support needs.

Curriculum for Excellence has an important role to play in promoting the health and wellbeing of children and young people and all of those in the educational communities to which they belong.  A new aspect of Scottish education is that aspects of Health and Wellbeing are considered the responsibility of everyone who works in a school, notably around relationships and wellbeing.  Each practitioner has a role in establishing open, positive, supportive relationships across the school community, where children and young people will feel that they are listened to, where they feel secure in their ability to discuss sensitive aspects of their lives.  The ethos of the school should stress the importance of positive relationships which we hope will carry on throughout a young person’s life.  The relationships education part of the curriculum is very much part of a broader education which we expect for all our children and young people.

Learning in health and wellbeing 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.

Education Scotland was established in 2011 as the key national body supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education and, in partnership with the full range of bodies and organisations active in the field of Scottish education, leads and supports the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence.  

The Scottish Government’s Getting it Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach overarches everything that Government and public and voluntary services do that impacts on children and young people. It provides the framework within which organisations and communities can work more closely together to help improve the life chances, wellbeing and outcomes for every child and young person in Scotland, irrespective of their circumstances.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Bill (2014) embeds key element of GIRFEC in statute and furthers the Scottish Government's ambition for Scotland to be the best place to grow up by putting children and young people at the heart of planning and services and ensuring their rights are respected across the public sector. Further information on GIRFEC and the Bill . Supporting guidance includes National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare and Early Learning and Childcare - Statutory Guidance.

Much has already been achieved to improve children's experiences of food in school with  and the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007, and accompanying Health Promotion Guidance