Legislation in Scotland – Children and Young People

January 20, 2012
Teacher helping disabled student at a table

We’ve rounded up the legislation and guidance for care professionals working with children and young people that will shape your decision making.

Some of the key legislation and guidance includes:

The Education (Scotland) Act (1980)

An Act with specific reference to the provision of education by Education Authorities and the rights and duties of parents and functions of Education Authorities in relation to individual learners.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

An international human rights treaty which requires public bodies to act in the best interests of a child based on 4 general principles:

  1. Non-discrimination (Article 2)

  2. Best interest of the child (Article 3)

  3. Right to life survival and development (Article 6)

  4. Right to be heard (Article 12)

Standards in Scotland's Schools etc. Act 2000

This Act is about the provision of school education specifically relating to children's rights and the duty of the education authority.

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

This Act concerns the provision of services and support for children and young people; it covers adoption, children's hearings, detention in secure accommodation and consultation on certain proposals in relation to schools. 

The Equality Act 2010

This Equality Act protects children and young people from discrimination. 

Education (Scotland) Act 2016

This Education Act includes provisions for strategic planning to consider socio-economic barriers to learning. It includes provisions which extend the rights of children aged 12 and over with capacity under the Additional Support for Learning Act. Children who are able to, can use rights on their own behalf to affect decision making about them.

Health and Social Care Standards (2017)

These H&SC Standards replace the National Care Standards and are now relevant across all health and social care provision for children and adults.
They are no longer just focused on regulated care settings, but for use in social care, early learning and childcare, children’s services, social work, health provision, and community justice. The Standards are underpinned by five key principles; dignity and respect, compassion, be included, responsive care and support and wellbeing.

Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) (2022)

This overarching Scottish Government strategy has been designed to enable staff working in health social care and education to ensure consistency when collaborating to support vulnerable children and young people.

Holding Safely

This guide focuses on the minimisation of the use of restrictive interventions especially physical restraint and provides the key sectoral guidance for residential care for children and young people.
Following the guidance means, among other things, every child must have a plan which aims to avoid and or reduce the use of restraint, every use of restraint should be followed by a debrief for the child and staff involved and that any staff expected to be involved in restraint must have regular reflective practice supervision.

Rights, Risks and Limits to Freedom

This guidance is provided to ensure that care, treatment and support are lawful and respect the rights and promote the welfare of individuals with mental illness, learning disability and related conditions. We do this by empowering individuals and their carers and influencing and challenging service providers and policy makers.

Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act (2000)

The Incapacity Act provides a framework for safeguarding the welfare and managing the finances of adults (people aged 16 or over) who lack capacity due to mental illness, learning disability, dementia or a related condition, or an inability to communicate.
See our blog on Restraint and Training Legislation in Scotland.
See some recent Scottish case law.

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