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Residential risk

The report released by Audit Scotland last week on the amount spent on young people in residential units and schools, and their outcomes, is shocking but not surprising.

Spending on residential care rose by 68 per cent to pound;250 million between 2001-02 and 2008-09. The report found that short-term outcomes were addressed but little regard was given to long-term goals such as helping them gain qualifications or jobs.

Some 1,600 children in Scotland each year are placed in residential schools or units. This is a vulnerable group, already at a higher risk of unemployment, poor health and prison. We must encourage them to get their lives back on track, and equip them with the confidence, skills, ability and ambition to succeed.

Early intervention is key. The earlier they get help, the more likely they are to succeed and contribute effectively to society.

Geraldine Gammell, director, The Prince's Trust Scotland, Queen Street, Glasgow.

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