Bridging the Gap: Improving Outcomes for Scotland’s Young People


Bridging the Gap: Improving Outcomes for Scotland’s Young People through School and Youth Work Partnerships


The national development on schools and youth work partnerships collected rich data on the breadth and depth of services to young people through local active joint work between schools, local authority community learning and development services and voluntary organisations across

Scotland. Within the context of Curriculum for Excellence and in the support for young people to be successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors, partners were recognised for their positive approaches and innovative practices. It is recognised that school staff and youth workers together can deliver better opportunities and outcomes for young people than they can separately and that all learning providers need to become familiar with the cross curricular experiences and outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence developments in order to maximise their contributions to preparing young people for the future and to achieving to the highest levels.

Policy Context – in addition to Curriculum for Excellence there are several policies upon which this report draws. Valuing Young People: principles and connections to support young people to achieve

their potential, brings together the connections across services and outlines a set of common principles for local and national organisations to follow in their work with young people. Moving

Forward: a strategy for improving young people’s chances through youth work, highlights the contribution youth work makes to the strategic initiatives of More Choices, More Chances: a strategy to reduce the proportion of young people not in education employment or training in

Scotland and Getting It Right For Every Child, and 16+ Learning Choices: first step activity and

financial support and Skills for Scotland: a lifelong skills strategy reinforce and significance of the youth work contribution to equipping young people with the skills for learning, life and work. This context complements the National Performance Framework which includes outcomes which focus on children and young people and challenges councils and their partners to improve national outcomes for young people in ways which reflect local circumstances and priorities.

Building Partnerships – partnership working is an important element in providing coherent and relevant services for young people and the national development work recognised the critical importance of leadership at strategic and operational levels in developing and sustaining partnerships. Elements which contribute to success are

 A clear understanding of the roles, responsibilities and contribution of all partners

Mutual respect and trust

Shared aspirations for young people

 Effective systems for communication and shared and recorded information

Planning jointly and reviewing progress regularly

Engagement with young people and parents

 Joint training and development

 Flexible ways of working and being responsive to changing circumstances

Improving Scottish Education recognises the need to formalise partnership arrangements and Journey to

Excellence emphasises the need for schools to be proactive in identifying opportunities for partnership working:

A large number of partnerships between schools and youth work agencies and providers operate across all areas Scotland. These may be part of a strategic approach built into local planning or be based on formal or less formal arrangements at local level. They may involve services from the police, health services, Skills Development Scotland, fire and rescue, social work, the voluntary sector, further rand higher education and others but all value a youth work approach that can result in positive outcomes for young people. Schools and school based and community based youth work partnerships support transitions by young people at various stages of their lives, improve health and wellbeing, develop literacy and numeracy, recognise and promote achievement and promote citizenship. Community learning and development providers and partners engage with parents also to provide support and encourage their participation in family learning, adult learning and literacy programmes. Raising parents’ aspirations often has a positive impact on their children’s confidence and motivation. Bridging the Gap highlights and details examples of all these areas of work.

Effective school and youth work partnerships can lead to benefits for young people, schools, the wider community and employers. They provide opportunities to recognise achievement, increase participation in community life and volunteering, increase awareness of diversity and inclusion, enhance employability, reduce exclusions from school, enhance learning, improve relationships and enhance the voice of young people in community planning and decision making.

Challenges remain to further develop skills in leading partnerships, in understanding outcomes, for joint training and learning for youth workers and teachers, in creating a coherent curriculum both in and out of school, and in strategic and operational planning. But the teaching and youth work sectors together can grasp the opportunity Curriculum for Excellence provides to develop partnerships and improve outcomes for Scotland’s young people.