Scottish education is never short of problems, and in recent weeks it feels like things have started to get significantly worse. But there are still thousands – literally – of good news stories coming from Scotland’s schools – the kind of stories that make everything seem a little brighter.

One such story is the way in which a school challenge and a national charity have come together – in this case, the Wood Foundation’s Young Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) and Families Outside, the only national charity in Scotland working solely to support people with a family member in prison – all thanks to the work of a few high school students.

Pupils taking part in the YPI scheme work in small teams to develop a pitch for funding for their chosen charity, with the winners securing real-world cash for the organisation that they have decided to support.

The programme itself has become fairly widespread in high schools across the country, and although some young people take part grudgingly, and do the bare minimum, others throw themselves into the work of developing the best, and most persuasive, presentation.

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Either way, the first barrier tends to be choosing a charity, which can be more difficult for young people than you might think. Sure, some of them will have an immediate idea of who they would like to support, perhaps because they have a personal or family connection to the organisation and the work that it does. But where that isn’t the case, pupils can struggle to even get going.

To tackle this problem, some schools have started hosting events referred to as a ‘charity fayre’, inviting a range of different organisations in to give pupils a chance to find one that appeals to them. This way, the thinking goes, they will choose something that they really care about, and as a result, will be motivated by the chance to make a real difference to something that genuinely matters to them.

It’s easy to imagine these events generating dozens of ‘lightbulb moments’ where pupils suddenly find exactly what they needed.

But that wasn’t what led a trio of pupils at Lenzie Academy to choose Families Outside. At their school, the charity fayre takes the form of a speed-dating event, but I soon learn that none of the three girls in question actually spoke to anyone from Families Outside at the time. My back-up assumption – that one has been directly affected by this issue – also proves incorrect.

Instead, I’m told that a recent modern studies topic had sparked an interest, and the YPI project seemed like an opportunity to help people who clearly need it.

For their pitch they produced a video highlighting the Families Outside helpline, which is available to those in need of support – children, partners, even professionals – in the aftermath of an imprisonment. Their approach was so effective that they made it to the final of the YPI contest for their area, but they didn’t quite manage to come out as overall winners.

Nevertheless, their work caught the attention of Families Outside, who got in touch eager to find a way to do more and to get the video to a wider audience.

It is now available online and can be shared across the country to help inform people about the support available for those struggling with the imprisonment of a family member.

Lenzie Academy Video from Families Outside on Vimeo.

And that’s very likely to be more people than you think.

According to Families Outside, there are between 20,000 and 27,000 young people with a family member in prison, but they can only provide this estimate, as opposed to a properly confirmed figure, because in Scotland we don’t even bother to gather this data properly.

When a parent of any child is sent to prison, you might expect a whole range of support services to kick in, especially around the education system. We are, after all, supposed to be trying to close gaps between those with most and those struggling to cope, and someone with a family with a member locked up is far more likely to be in the latter group than the former. There is also much made of the fact that the rates of additional support needs amongst school pupils have hugely increased – and could anyone possibly think that a child whose parent is in prison doesn’t require additional support?

And yet, the reality is that there isn’t necessarily any official or multi-agency response to something that is all but guaranteed to leave children experiencing significant trauma over an extended period – in some cases, for the remainder of their childhood and beyond.

That point is made painfully clear by a second video played at the launch event. This one is not for public consumption, but in it a young woman called Louise talked about the effects of a family member being imprisoned and the difference that support like that provided by Families Outside could have made to her.

And that support might now be accessed by even more people thanks to the efforts of three teenaged girls from Lenzie. That is something worth recognising.

They’re almost certainly too young to fully appreciate it, but what those three girls have demonstrated is a deeply empathetic response to circumstances with which they have had no personal contact. It’s the sort of thing adults often find incredibly difficult, with devastating consequences, but children can do with ease.