Education: policy context

Government policy documents have made clear reference to how education improvements could deliver improvements in health and help to tackle health inequalities. The 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

Current policy places clear emphasis on addressing inequalities in education outcomes alongside improving those outcomes across the population. The Education (Scotland) Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016 imposes duties in relation to reducing inequalities of outcome. The National Improvement Framework sets out a clear vision for Scottish Education, focussing on the twin aims of excellence through raising attainment, and achieving equity with a particular focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap. In 2016, the Scottish Government published “Delivering Excellence and Equity in Scottish Education: A Delivery Plan for Scotland”, which describes how the government will work with partners to achieve these twin aims of excellence and equity.

Curriculum for Excellence sets out the overarching curriculum in Scottish Education, with the aim of fostering four capacities in all young people: successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors. Importantly, it includes health and wellbeing as a key area of the curriculum, and emphasises that health and wellbeing across learning is the responsibility of all practitioners.

Other national educational initiatives include: Raising Attainment for All which aims to support consistent improvement in attainment; Scotland's Adult Literacy and Numeracy Strategy; and Opportunities for All, which supports young people to participate in education, training or work after the age of 16.

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 is the national approach in Scotland to improving outcomes and supporting the wellbeing of 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 elements 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 is available, and supporting guidance includes National Practice Guidance on Early Learning and Childcare and Early Learning and Childcare - Statutory Guidance.

Scottish Government are committed to expanding the provision of free, high quality, flexible early learning and childcare, to 1,140 hours per year by 2020. This will cover all 3 and 4 year old children, and eligible 2 year olds, and aims to provide the flexibility parents need to work, train or study.

The provision of additional support for those children that need it is embedded in Scottish Education through GIRFEC and Curriculum for Excellence.

Children's experiences of food in school are covered within Curriculum for Excellence, and the publication of Better Eating, Better Learning in 2014 builds on the Schools (Health Promotion and Nutrition) (Scotland) Act 2007 and accompanying Health Promotion Guidance.