29 Jul 2021
Children and teenagers have asked the Scottish Government to let them “feel young again” as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Having experienced 18 months of stress and disruption, young people want the government to produce a clear, national plan for similar crisis situations, with a focus on education.
These calls are part of a set of powerful ‘Asks’ for Government from a group of young people in a report published today (29/07/2021) called #ScotYouthandCOVID2: Young People’s Participation Through Crisis. The report, by A Place in Childhood (APiC) and supported by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, also includes plans to develop these Asks into a Scotland-wide manifesto for change.
The 25 Young Consultants involved in the report - 11 to 17-year-olds from Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, rural Falkirk and rural Stirlingshire - worked together from March 2021, reflecting on the return to school in autumn 2020 and their experiences of the winter lockdown.
They made a series of wide-ranging calls, including redesigning assessments; recognising that teachers have struggled in the pandemic and that they need to be supported too; schools and teachers ensuring that workloads are not overwhelming; and the creation of school-based discussion groups that could feed into Government plans, so that children and young people can be a key part of ongoing improvements.
Young Consultant Aimee, 17, from Denny, Falkirk, said:
“The Scottish Government needs to recognise that young people are crying out for help. We need more mental health support, we want our exams and our schooling to be sorted. We need them to be clear on restrictions, and we’ve been asking for that for so long. They are going to have to listen to us, and they have to make a change.”
Their Asks cover the issues that affected them throughout the pandemic such as Motivation and School, Wellbeing, Uncertainty, Addressing Inequalities, helping with Transitions from Primary to Secondary School, Exam Years and Recovery from the pandemic. They also emphasised the need to act on local environmental issues and Climate Change.
The Young Consultants will now gather the views of children and young people from across Scotland, focusing on listening to those who feel least heard over the pandemic. The aim is to create a Scotland-wide manifesto for change that represents the needs of as many children and young people as possible to ensure they are a key part of decision-making as the country moves out of the pandemic.
Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has been a human rights crisis and children and young people have sacrificed so much to comply with the measures to protect public health including limitations to their rights to education, health, socialisation and freedom of assembly, all of which has had a profound effect on them. Children and young people have the right to have their opinions heard in all decisions affecting them, and that has not happened enough during this pandemic. To counter this, Young Consultants have created a hopeful, productive and positive set of Asks from sharing their experiences and we must listen to them and children and young people across Scotland. Understanding their experiences and insights and, crucially, their important ideas for change is vital to ensure the government lives up to its promise to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights during and beyond the current crisis.”
Dr Jenny Wood, Co-Director of A Place in Childhood, said:
“Young Consultants have proved time and again in this research the significant insights and contributions they have to understanding how the pandemic has affected children and young people, where improvements need to be made, and how they can recover from the impacts. Their Asks highlight the core relationship between living in uncertain times, retaining motivation to learn, and the significant impact on their wellbeing of such disruption. Though they come from a range of different places across the country, have different backgrounds, and are of different ages, they have developed consensus in what they are asking for and where they tell us the problems lie. It is now our responsibility to act on their Asks and strategy to develop these into a Scotland-wide manifesto for children and young people as we emerge from the pandemic”
Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland