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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.1 Target population of youth policy

Last update: 25 January 2021

LAST MODIFIED ON: 29/07/2020

The main statement of Scottish youth policy is contained in the document entitled Our Ambitions for Improving the Life Chances of Young People in Scotland: National Youth Work Strategy 2014-2019 (YouthLink Scotland, Education Scotland and Scottish Government, 2014).

The age group which the strategy addresses is 11- to 25-year-olds, with a particular focus on 11- to 18-year-olds. It states:

Whilst the government is not legislating universally for 18 plus, it is our ambition that good practice established for pre-18s would be extended into young adult service provision.

The strategy also acknowledges the ‘need to connect effectively with early intervention programmes and provision which focuses on children under 11 years’ (p. 31).  Whilst this strategy encompasses and relates to a number of specific youth policies, these address different age ranges and target groups:

  • Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is the Scottish Government’s rights-based approach to improving outcomes for children. It underpins all policy, practice, strategy and legislation affecting children, young people and their families and applies to individuals from birth to age 19.
  • Curriculum for Excellence (Education Scotland) is the broad curriculum framework which provides a coherent approach to the curriculum, assessment and qualifications for children and young people aged 3–18.
  • Opportunities for All (Scottish Government, 2012), is aimed at supporting young people aged 16 to 19 who are not in education, employment or training. It contains a guarantee of participation in post-16 learning, training or work. The programme has been incorporated into Developing the Young Workforce: Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy (Scottish Government, 2014).
  • Getting it Right for Young Carers: the Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010-2015 (Scottish Government and COSLA, 2010) quotes a definition of a young carer as a ‘child or young person aged under 18 who has a significant role in looking after someone else who is experiencing illness or disability’.
  • The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 (Scottish Government, 2017) defines a young carer as ‘a carer who— (a) is under 18 years old, or (b) has attained the age of 18 years while a pupil at a school, and has since attaining that age remained a pupil at that or another school.’  
  • Time To Shine: Scotland’s Youth Arts Strategy (Creative Scotland, 2013) is aimed at young people aged 0-25. One of its aims is to widen access and broaden participation in the arts and culture, for example amongst minority groups and those from areas of deprivation.
  • Giving Children and Young People a Sporting Chance: Scotland’s Sport Strategy for Children and Young People (Scottish Government and COSLA, 2014) aims to make Scotland a great environment for young people to begin a lifelong participation in sport; the strategy does not specify an age range.
  • Preventing Offending: Getting it Right for Children and Young People (Scottish Government, 2015) is the current preventative strategy aimed primarily at young people under the age of 18, although provision in some local areas extends to individuals up to the age of 21. Historically, youth justice has dealt with children and young people aged 8 to 16 and there is still a focus on this range, but it can extend beyond this age and begin earlier when preventative approaches are used.

The Scottish government has committed to a new Youth Work Strategy in 2020, with a consultation on the draft strategy planned to launch in late 2020.