Children are to be offered an enhanced range of summer activities to help them deal with extended periods of isolation due to Covid-19, the Education Secretary has announced.
John Swinney said the activities will aim to provide opportunities “to connect and socialise”, with further support provided where needed.
He also told Holyrood’s Education Committee that the Scottish Government is providing £19.4 million for a mentoring scheme for young people.
The six-year scheme will see a network of volunteer mentors – drawn from business, civic society and the general public – offer tailored support to young people through schools as lockdown eases.
Mr Swinney told MSPs: “I do not underestimate the extent to which children and young people have experienced disruption to their daily lives as a result of the pandemic, nor to the physical and mental health impacts of lockdown.”
He added those impacts “may have fallen unequally across society”.
The Education Secretary said: “Therefore I am pleased to tell the committee we intend to provide an enhanced range of summer activities for children and young people in order to address the impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and reduced participation in normal activities.
“This offer will have children’s rights and needs at its heart, and will seek to provide opportunities to connect and socialise, while accessing a range of activities, combined with broader supports where needed.”
On the mentoring programme, developed by charity MCR Pathways, he said: “Improving the education and life chances of all our children and young people is the defining mission of this Government, which is why we are funding this mentoring support package that will enable young people to reach their full potential.”
The mentoring scheme will be carried out in partnership with local councils that wish to take part, and will form part of the Scottish Government’s Young Person’s Guarantee.
Graeme McEwan, chief executive of MCR Pathways, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government is supporting the expansion of the Young Scottish Talent mentoring programme to thousands more inspiring young people across the country.
“This recognises the transformational impact of mentoring and the key role it will play in post-Covid recovery in our schools and local communities.
“We look forward to partnering with our local authorities and schools to work with volunteer mentors across the country to help our young people find, grow and use their talents and be all they can be.”
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