The SNP sets its sights on inclusion and equity

Posted by Usman Ali / Friday 28 October 2016 / Public Affairs

Investment in the early years and supporting young people in care headline the SNP Conference.

Party conferences achieve many things. They bring party members together, are a place where pressure groups try to make their case, and they’re an opportunity for the leadership to set the tone for the coming year. Leader’s speeches are always filled with buzzwords, and this year’s were ‘inclusion’ and ‘equity’.  

When Nicola Sturgeon took to the stage to deliver her speech at the SNP Party Conference last weekend, she wanted us to remember her speech for a word beginning with ‘i.’

“No, not that one”, she said referring to independence, “Not yet. The word I want you to remember is this - inclusion. Inclusion is the guiding principle for everything we do.”

The First Minister talked of her Government’s ambition to improve the lives and education of Scotland’s children within the context of being ‘inclusive’.

So how does Nicola Sturgeon wish to create her ‘inclusive Scotland’?

Well, she announced a range of proposals which Action for Children finds interesting. These include:

  • A review of Scotland’s care system to improve the experiences of looked-after children by making sure it both meets their needs and helps them to fulfil their potential.
  • Consulting on allowing parents to choose a nursery or childminder that best suits their needs and – as long as the provider meets agreed standards – asking the local authority to fund it. 
  • Rolling out the Baby Box Scheme in pilot areas on New Year’s Day, with the ambition to give a baby box to every baby born in Scotland in the summer of 2017. 

Action for Children will keep a close eye on these proposals and will work to bring the voices and needs of children and young people to the debate.

Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary, John Swinney MSP, also had a message to share on the themes of ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’.

During a fringe event, Mr Swinney talked about the Scottish Government’s strapline of Excellence in Equity. He explained that this was the Government’s formula to close the attainment gap. He argued that for young people to thrive, we have to strive for excellence in teaching and learning. Mr Swinney’s conclusion is that by focusing on this during the early years, we can create an inclusive and equitable Scotland.