Understanding Children's Lives and Outcomes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: Sch of Geosciences


Understanding Children's Lives and Outcomes, led by Morag Treanor and Fiona Mitchell, will provide new insights to help better understand and deliver the best possible outcomes for children, utilising existing datasets newly acquired by Scottish Government, in areas including education, health and wellbeing, and the provision of protection and care for children.
There is an extensive range of data about children in Scotland, but it is held across different organisations and is not currently linkable in a way that allows analysis and insights into outcomes and how they vary across society. In addition, our works aims not only to look at children as individuals or in isolation, but situate them within their household and familial context to create a richer understanding of the factors affecting children's lives and to help better address the needs and experiences of children.
Through the research projects, we seek to demonstrate the usefulness of these datasets in order to better understand children's lives and inform policy and practice, and in turn promote the future use and re-use of this data. We aim to learn more about particularly vulnerable cohorts, such as looked after children and, overall, to better understand children and young people's pathways and outcomes, building an evidence base which can help to improve their health, wellbeing and attainment.

The ambitions for people in Scotland are captured in the National Performance Framework, which has a core strand on Children and Young People, and strives for an environment where children grow up loved, safe and protected and can reach their full potential. Our research projects directly respond to the Scottish Attainment Challenge, Permanence and Care Excellence Programme and Independent Care Review 2020 in Scotland, to improve data and outcomes for children in these areas.

We will undertake two projects.
The first will look at educational exclusions and absences. We will examine the variation between schools and between local authorities in their policies and practices in relation to temporary exclusions and absence, and will establish what policies are most effective in reducing exclusions and absences and improving children's outcomes. We will also explore the role of family characteristics and circumstances household living arrangements. This will allow us to explore the extent to which it is policy and practice, and not the demographics of the catchment or the characteristics of the family that make the difference to absences, exclusions and outcomes.

The second project will examine growing up in kinship care. Our ambition is to increase our knowledge of the needs, circumstances and outcomes of children currently living in formal kinship care. We will look at the requirements that universal, and targeted services need to meet in the context of statutory duties focussed on promoting the wellbeing of all children. In the course of undertaking this research we will find out whether this new linked dataset could be used to create thematic reports that could form part of a more in depth annual statistical bulletin produced by government.


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