Council candidates urged to pledge to work with third sector to increase chances of children living in poverty
Scotland's leading children's charities have urged new councillors to help them close Scotland's attainment gap.
More than 25 charities supporting young people and their families believe their role is crucial to improve the life-chances of Scotland's poorest children.
The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) are urging candidates in May's council elections to promise greater partnership with charities to provide the most effective planning for children.
Research suggests 15-year-olds from poorer families are up to three years behind youngsters from better-off families in science, maths and reading.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said closing the attainment gap and improving the life-chances of children from the poorest postcodes is her priority and ministers have pledged special funds to bolster schools where most pupils receive free school meals.
Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, one of the leading charities backing the #plan4children campaign, said schools are vital if the attainment gap is to be closed but charities also have a crucial role to play in children's services planning.
“It is natural that so much of the debate around the attainment gap focuses on what happens inside our classrooms,” he said.
“However, what happens before and beyond the school gates can be even more important in ensuring every child has every chance to learn.
“Improving children's numeracy and literacy will be key to closing the attainment gap but so too is improving their health and well-being and ensuring they can arrive at school ready to learn.
“The ability and ambition of our schools to release the potential of children from every area of Scotland will be crucial if the attainment gap is to be closed but so will the dedication and expertise of Scotland's charities.”
“Only an effective, co-ordinated and well-planned partnership of all the organisations working with these children and their families will make that difference.
“Improving the lives and protecting the life chances of these children is about prevention, early intervention, and, above all, good planning.
The CCPS wants all councillors, re-elected or new to local government, to commit to improving the lives and life chances of all children, including the 200,000 Scots children growing up in poverty.
The charities' #plan4children campaign urges council candidates to sign an online pledge, committing their support to work in partnership with the charities to plan and deliver lifeline services.
Director Annie Gunner Logan said: “There are few issues more important to our communities than improving the lives and futures of children growing up there.
“Our campaign is a call for partnership for councils to work with charities and voluntary organisations to plan and deliver strategies that will provide the support that is crucial to many families.
“Early intervention, in particular, is a way of ensuring problems do not become crises and, in the long-run, can deliver more effective outcomes and better value for money.”