spotlight on children's services
South Ayrshire Council and community planning partners are finalising their first ever Children's Services Plan Annual Report which will be submitted to Scottish Government.
The Children's Services Plan highlights the progress the Council and its community planning partners have made toward meeting five priorities to ensure children and young people in South Ayrshire are safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included.
A joint inspection of children's services in February 2018 noted that "significant progress" has been made across the five priorities.
The Children's Services Plan picks up on feedback from the inspection outlining good practice and areas for improvement.
The first of the five priorities is to ensure children and young people get the best possible start in life. To help achieve this ambition, the Council has increased capacity at early year's centres attended by 90% of eligible looked after children.
The second priority is to reduce the gap in outcomes between the most deprived and least deprived. The plan says 91% of leavers from deprived areas go on to positive destinations after school compared with 94% of all other leavers.
Pupil Equity and Scottish Attainment Challenge funding are being used to help close this gap and a Skills Academy has been established to help young people achieve positive destinations after S4.
Ensuring that young people who are looked after and care leavers are supported to achieve their ambitions is the third priority. The Children's Services Plan highlights that a Champions Board has been established so these young people can influence decision making.
A progress tracking system for looked after children has been introduced in schools and shows that attainment of 5 qualifications at level 3 in S4 has increased from 59% in 2015 to 73% in 2017.
The fourth priority is to ensure children and young people are supported emotionally and have good physical wellbeing. The plan points out that a Mental Health Action Plan has been developed in partnership with South Ayrshire Youth Forum and there are mental health self-help resources in educational facilities as well as apps.
71% of children achieved all milestones in health and wellbeing although there was a decline in the number of young people at secondary school who say they participate in out of school activities.
The last priority is to listen to young people so a Children's Rights Working Group has been set up to improve engagement. The plan outlines that last year over 9,000 young people took part in a youth led consultation to identify the issues that are important to them, this feedback is being used to inform the decision making process.
Councillor William Grant, Lifelong Learning Portfolio Holder at South Ayrshire Council said: "The plan highlights that we have a clear vision and five priorities to help children and young people achieve their ambitions regardless of background.
"More engagement is taking place than ever before and we're using resources for early intervention to support children and young people at the outset. We're on a journey and there is still more the Council and partners can do, so we won't rest until we have a level playing field when it comes to what children and young people can achieve."
The draft of the Children's Services Plan Annual Report 2017/18 can be found here.