Nicola Sturgeon has announced the Scottish Government’s plans for the year ahead. The Programme for Government sets out how we will support families across Scotland, giving every child the best start in life and supporting those who look after loved ones.
Here’s how we will deliver a new deal for families.
Giving every child the best start in life
This year families across Scotland with new babies have begun to receive a Baby Box, filled with essentials for their child’s first months.
The Baby Box generation will also be the first to benefit from our plans to transform childcare. We’ve already increased free, high quality childcare to 16 hours a week for all 3 and 4 year olds and 2 year olds who are looked after, in kinship care or from low income households too. By 2020, we’ll near double provision to 30 hours a week.
We provide a healthy school meal for all children in primaries 1 to 3 saving parents £320 per child per year. And by 2021 we will provide free meals to all 2, 3 and 4 year olds who benefit from increased nursery provision.
And this year we will also begin work towards delivering a new Best Start Grant by Summer 2019, providing financial support to families at key points in a child’s early years.
We will introduce an Education Bill to deliver the most radical reform of how schools are run since devolution began. It’ll empower headteachers, free teachers to teach and strengthen the role of parents in schools.
To give parents and teachers more information than ever before on the progress of pupils, we will implement the National Improvement Framework and, from this autumn, new standardised assessments will begin.
We will also continue to deliver the Pupil Equity Fund, as part of the £750 million Scottish Attainment Challenge, putting more resources directly into the hands of headteachers.
Enhancing the rights of children and young people
In 2018, Scotland’s Year of Young People, we will enhance the rights of children by raising the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12; back proposals to ban smacking; and explore how best to embed the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
From next summer Carer’s Allowance will be raised, with the increase backdated to April 2018. We will also announce a new package of support for young carers.
Free personal care for older people is one of the landmark achievements of devolution. We will now go further and fully implement Frank’s Law, to provide free personal care to those aged under 65.