3 year old Ellie-Mae with her dad Peter at a primary school  in Glasgow's East end as part of the FAST programme on October 23, 2013.


Narrowing the gap for children in poverty

We’re working to ensure every child in Scotland gets a fair start in life.

More than a quarter of children in Scotland live in poverty, and children experiencing poverty in the early years are twice as likely to have difficulties with their early learning and development.

Poverty makes it much harder for a child to achieve their potential at school, and harder for their parents to support their learning.

By the time they start school, many children in poverty are already falling behind their classmates.

As they get older, this education gap widens and can leave them at an unfair disadvantage. It is a huge challenge for children, teachers and parents.

Through our programmes and campaigns, we’re aiming to give every child in Scotland the support they need to fulfil their potential.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Mum and Dad Leanne and John with daughter Keira, 5, take part in Save the Children's UK Families Connect programme.

Our programmes

Our Families Connect programme empowers parents to create a supportive home environment, so that children can achieve their full potential at school and in life.

We are currently supported by the Scottish Government to deliver Families Connect as the outreach arm of its Read Write Count programme. Read Write Count encourages parents and families to include reading, writing and counting in their everyday activities, such as walking around the supermarket or travelling home from school. Families Connect complements the government-led social marketing campaign, and the book gifting delivered by Scottish Book Trust, providing additional resources and support for families.  

Families Connect has been delivered in Scotland since summer 2016, when it ran in 6 schools across the country. The programme has since been rolled out to 53 schools with more to come and feedback to date has been overwhelmingly positive:

  • 100% of parents said they really enjoyed Families Connect, and 99% of parents said their child really enjoyed the programme as well
  • 92% of parents said Families Connect has changed what they do with their child at home
  • 69% of parents said Families Connect changed the behaviour of other family members at home
  • 97% said that they would recommend Families Connect, and 65% said that they had recommended Families Connect already.

Families Connect has really helped me understand my child's learning and made me think about my parenting skills and make positive changes at home, which have helped the whole family.” - Parent

These numbers reflect similar findings in UK-wide evaluations, which have consistently shown a positive impact on the emotional wellbeing and behaviour of both children and parents. Evaluations have also shown that parents who participate in Families Connect grow in confidence and spend more time engaging with their children and supporting their learning.

Children in Families Connect have bonded and are making friendships in class. One particular child is trying new maths strategies in class and is working on extending her writing after a discussion with Mum.” - Teacher


Through our Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! programme, we help families living in poverty by providing essential items that support children’s development.

By offering items such as a bed, a cooker, or toys and books, our programme reduces the family stress associated with living on a low income and contributes to better emotional wellbeing and early learning in the home.

Since the programme began, we have awarded grants to more than 6000 families in Scotland.

Stronger Communities is a new initiative in two areas in Scotland. It’s led by Save the Children in partnership with other children’s charities.

We aim to bring the people who live and work in the areas together to problem solve at a community level. This involves identifying issues, generating solutions and then implementing them together.

We introduced Families and Schools Together (FAST) to schools in Scotland in 2010. The award winning, early-intervention programme brings parents, children, schools and the wider community together to support children’s learning. We’ve run FAST with over a thousand children from schools across central Scotland. You can read more about the impact of FAST here.

Our policy and campaigning work

Our policy work focuses on the action that Scottish Government and local authorities need to take to improve support for children living in poverty in Scotland.

We campaign for action to break the link between poverty and children’s outcomes. We want all young children affected by poverty to get the support they need to develop, grow and learn.

Our goal is to secure changes to early learning and childcare provision in Scotland that will maximise its potential to improve the lives of children living in poverty, and ensure all children achieve good early learning and development outcomes before starting school.

We are also campaigning for a strong, comprehensive policy and legislative framework for parental engagement, ensuring that all services working with families play their role in supporting parents to engage in their children’s learning, and that parents who would benefit from additional support are able to access it.


Related reports

FAST Forward: Findings from independent research into the FAST programme in Scotland

Learning lessons: Young people’s views on poverty and education in Scotland

Ready to read – Scotland: Closing the gap in early language skills so that every child in Scotland can read well

A fair start for every child: Why we must act now to tackle child poverty in the UK

Find out more

For more information about our work in Scotland, please contact infoscotland@savethechildren.org.uk or call us on 0131 527 8200.

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