Vulnerable pupils not accessing school hubs during COVID-19
Date: 1st May 2020
Category: Education, Leisure and Cultural Activities, Family Environment and Alternative Care
Concerns have been raised by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland over the “very very low” uptake of childcare and school places set aside for vulnerable children.
From 20 March 2020, schools, colleges, early learning and childcare settings, childminders and other registered childcare settings for all but the most vulnerable children and for children of key workers.
According to the Scottish Government, ‘vulnerable’ children can include those who are on the child protection register, 'looked after', on the edge of care, eligible for free school meals; have complex additional support needs, or are affected by poverty and deprivation. However, this is not an exhaustive list and definitions can vary across local authorities - as highlighted in our State of Children's Rights Report 2019.
Despite childcare and school places remaining available to support these children, uptake has been very low. The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland suggested that this may be due to stigma attached to children being identified as needing social work support. In addition, families may be faced with practical difficulties travelling to and from schools.
A recent Scottish Government report notes that 470-530 children who are regarded as vulnerable attended these educational settings each day in the week before Easter and over Easter, 400-450 were attending. This represents around 0.5% of the children with multi-agency child’s plans, which signifies a large number of vulnerable children are not attending school hubs. The report continues to set out some of the community-based and universal approaches that are being taken forward to support at risk groups.