CHANGE Response to Ministerial Statement

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CHANGE Response to Ministerial Statement

Response to Ministerial Statement: ‘Education – Covid-19’ by Deputy First Minister John Swinney on Thursday 19 March

The CHANGE team welcomes the measures outlined in the statement by Deputy First Minister John Swinney, who set out the Scottish Government’s plans to prioritise the health and wellbeing of children, young people and staff as schools and Early Learning and Childcare (ELC) providers prepare to close indefinitely on Friday 20 March in response to the Covid-19 virus.

The Deputy First Minister highlighted three ways in which the Scottish Government will support local authorities to exercise the flexibility that enables the education and ELC workforce to operate in new and different ways to support families during this difficult time:

  • Continuing to support vulnerable children who rely on school for hot meals, structure and a safe nurturing environment
  • Supporting education and ELC staff to deliver as much educational continuity as possible – for example setting learning tasks and sharing these with families via email and other online platforms
  • Supporting local authorities to put measures in place to ensure the children of key workers who do not have another parent or carer at home who can look after them during the day have access to all-age learning and childcare that allows their parents or carers to participate in the national response to Covid-19. In practice this may mean:
    1. Local authorities opting to keep some childcare settings open with reduced staffing
    2. Creating local childcare hubs using existing community facilities in a different way
    3. Working with private/third sector providers of childcare, including childminders, to deliver childcare to families of key workers.

We welcome the Deputy First Minister’s strong encouragement for local authorities to prioritise the use of facilities to ensure maximum support for this critical sector.

CHANGE also welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to work with local authorities to continue the provision of free school meals at this time. As outlined by the Deputy First Minister, this will help to reduce additional costs for families and ensure the provision of healthy, nutritional food. Multiple options are being planned for. These may include direct payments or vouchers being made available for families in receipt of free school meals and/or the opening of community campuses to provide meals or enable food collection.

CHANGE also recognises the importance of Chief Social Work Officers being asked to give special consideration to identifying and supporting vulnerable children who are at increased risk, for example lone parents who are too unwell to look after their own children.

As keen supporters of ELC services, Out of School Care and play and activity services we are encouraged by the flexibility and supportive approach offered. As noted yesterday, it is individual schools and services that matter and have the connection with children and their families, and it is critical that we ensure these services have the all the support they need.

Contribute to CHANGE

We welcome and encourage input from anyone who has an interest in childcare or community wellbeing in Glasgow East. If you’d like to discuss this with a member of the CHANGE team please contact our Policy and Participation Officer, Alison Hay, ahay@childreninscotland.org.uk or our Project Officer, Robert Doyle, rdoyle@childreninscotland.org.uk.

Please note that the CHANGE team will be working from home over the coming weeks. However you can still contact us by email and telephone: www.change-childcare.org/get-involved/Although working a little differently from usual, we’re still striving to progress our learning & improve local childcare, so if you feel like you have something to contribute to the project please get in touch.