THE Scouts have offered to help out parents and pupils during the long summer holidays.

The move is one of a range of suggestions to help families deal with the impact of the summer break - which can lead to a deterioration in standards of literacy and numeracy.

Summer holidays are particularly disruptive for poorer parents who can no longer rely on free school meals to feed their families.

They are also more likely to fall behind academically because of more limited opportunities to take part in educational or challenging activities.

Read more: 'Cut school summer holidays' to help families cope 

As part of an inquiry into the impact of poverty on school attainment the Scottish parliament’s education committee has asked for a range of views on what could make a difference.

In its response Scouts Scotland said it could help schools offer pupils a range of activities such as outdoor games, arts and crafts, cooking activities and challenges designed to build skills such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving.

Katie Docherty, chief executive of Scouts Scotland, said: “Mainstream scouting takes place during term time, but we believe there is more we can do around provision of Scouting in the school holidays.

“To achieve this it would require Scouting to be more flexible than present and an additional, focused resource of leaders to provide Scouting in the holiday periods.

“We believe there is potential for parents and families to take part in family learning opportunities or more targeted family support.”

Read more: Boom in Scottish Scouting numbers

Ms Docherty said Scouting teams had the qualifications and experience to deliver initiatives such as bush craft and camping skills to parents in local settings or as part of a residential programme.

She added: “The simple skills learned in these sessions increase the confidence of parents to explore their local wild areas or travel further afield to camp – a relatively cheap activity, with a great many associated benefits.

“This could be delivered in partnership with schools and local authorities during holiday and transition periods.”

Scouts Scotland said money schools in more disadvantaged areas receive from the government’s Scottish Attainment Fund could be used to help fund new initiatives during the summer holidays.

Last year, independent research showed Scouting activities delivered to pupils in six primary schools in England led to an increase in leadership capabilities.

Participating schools were selected on the basis of deprivation and a lack of similar activities in their wider community.

The evaluation, conducted by thinktank Demos, concluded that the Scouting project had had “statistically significant and positive impacts” on participants’ leadership skills.

However, research has shown many schools who want to provide such opportunities lack the resources to do so and that partnerships between schools and organisations like the Scouts work best where teachers are not under additional time pressure due to workload.