A government should be judged by the level of support it offers the most disadvantaged, Kezia Dugdale said.
The Scottish Labour Leader visited Dumbarton Academy earlier this week to highlight her plan to support young people in care who want to go on to higher education. Ms Dugdale told pupils that anybody who comes from care and manages to fight their way to higher education should receive student grant support of £6,000 a year.
Only 3% of young people go on to higher education within nine months of leaving care, compared to 36% for young people in general.
Scottish Labour will use the debates on the SNP Government’s Education Bill to press for action to support young people who come from care.
Kezia Dugdale said:
“A government must be judged by how it supports the most disadvantaged people in our society, and they don’t come much more disadvantaged than young people in care. We need to close the gap between the richest and the rest, so that care leavers can have as many opportunities to get on in life as any other young person.
Too often we simply forget about them. Not necessarily out of malice or intent, but because they don’t have enough people to speak up on their behalf. Whether because of neglect or circumstance, these are young people who grow up without the support network other talented young people take for granted, through no fault of their own.
The reality is that young care leavers are more likely to go to jail than university. We need to reverse that trend, and the way to do that is to make it easier for care leavers to go on to higher education.
Scottish Labour have a plan introduce full grant support, worth £6000 a year, for looked after young people who have the talent to go on to higher education. The SNP Government should use their existing attainment fund to introduce this plan.
Politics is all about making choices. When we decide how to spend public money we are making clear our priorities. Giving young people the best start in life is my priority.”