WITH the election over, it’s now time to deliver on the commitments that were made to address the needs of vulnerable children in our society, says Liz May.
WITH the return of an SNP government, there is a real opportunity to now deliver on its ambitions to close the educational attainment gap and deliver a more equal society.
It should of course be highlighted that we would like to pass our thanks to all the political parties for the commitments they gave in their manifestos to address the needs of vulnerable children and young people in our society.
The coalition’s vision, to make Scotland one of the best places in the world for vulnerable children and young people to grow up in is a bold one, but with the mandate the Scottish Government now has, it is a vision that it should aspire to.
The SNP’s manifesto set out the challenge to deliver “An Equal and Fair Society”. Set against a background of dramatic public spending cuts, this will mean innovative thinking and greater partnership working with independent and third sector service providers is needed to deliver on this.
More than one in five pupils are identified as having Additional Support Needs, and so if we are to reduce the attainment gap, we must provide them with the care and support they need, whether they are in mainstream or in additional support for learning schools.
There has been a great focus on improving the lives of care experienced children and young people. This aspiration must be turned into a reality and a root and branch review of the Scottish care system undertaken. We are heartened that the First Minister is sympathetic to this proposal.
There is a cross-party consensus that much more needs to be done to help the increasing number of children and young people suffering from mental health problems. There is a welcome refocus on preventative support and early intervention and we await the proposed new Mental Health Strategy due out this year with interest.
The Scottish Government has, through its electoral mandate, been presented with an incredible opportunity and one which carries with it a great deal of responsibility. We would urge it to be bold, innovative and to hold firm to its radical roots in its efforts to close the attainment gap and deliver a more equal society.
• Liz May is national coordinator at Action for Sick Children Scotland, a member Scottish Children’s Services Coalition