Celebrate everything young people have achieved, says Children’s Commissioner

Scotland should celebrate everything that young people have achieved in the past two years of living through a pandemic, suggests the Children’s Commissioner ahead of exam results day.

Writing today, Bruce Adamson said: “We should rightly celebrate young people’s achievements particularly when they have worked hard to achieve these results, despite the impact on their right to an education and disruption to SQA exams and assessments over two academic years.”

“We should use this opportunity to celebrate everything else they have achieved during the global pandemic too. Children and young people have been incredible. The right to education is about ensuring that they develop their minds, body, and talents to their fullest potential and the resilience, strength and courage that young people have demonstrated these past two years deserves the highest accolade.”

As schools return next week, the Commissioner welcomed changes to Covid restrictions where children will no longer have to self-isolate if identified as being a close contact of a positive case if they are symptomless and have had a negative PCR test.

The Commissioner said: “We wrote to the Minister for Children and Young People on July 9th to raise concerns and to ask the Scottish Government to consider its approach towards restrictions before schools return in August and we are pleased that the Government has outlined a more targeted and limited approach to self-isolation in schools. Periods of staying at home significantly restricted children’s rights to education, to good mental health, to family life, and to socialisation.

“Easing of restrictions on self-isolation for whole class bubbles and close contacts is an important part of ensuring that education is not disrupted unnecessarily. Mitigations in schools, including face coverings, are an important way to ensure all children and adults can safely attend school, including those who are at higher risk from Covid. However, the use of face coverings must be proportionate and should be kept under regular review as vaccination becomes available to children and young people.

“As part of the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on schooling during Covid-19, we have called for further evidence to ascertain the optimum set of mitigation strategies, including vaccination of children, that would achieve the full range of health, social and educational aspirations for the entire population, particularly children.

“During the last 18 months, children and young people have consistently followed the rules to keep themselves and others safe. The reasoning behind necessary mitigations in schools must be shared with them. Once again, we urge the Scottish Government to involve children and young people in these discussions and provide them with clear, consistent, and age-appropriate communication.

“This has been a human rights crisis and when we reflect on all that young people have coped with, their achievement in dealing with this global pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. We should celebrate every single success.”

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