James reflects on the importance of additional support needs provision in ensuring children and young people reach their full potential.
The Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000 sets out that children and young people will be educated in a mainstream school unless it:
- Would not be suited to the ability or aptitude of the child
- Would be incompatible with the provision of efficient education for the children with whom the child would be educated
- Would result in unreasonable public expenditure being incurred which would not ordinarily be incurred
Most children with additional support needs (ASN) are therefore included in mainstream education. In order to access education, children may require a variety of adjustments ranging from materials being provided in accessible formats such as large print or audio, to lessons like PE or Home Economics being adapted so that they can participate fully. Class teachers may have to learn about additional support needs through continuous professional development, and specialist teachers (such as Qualified Teachers of Children and Young People with Vision Impairment for blind and partially sighted children) might support their learning by teaching communication methods such as braille if the child does not already have that skill.
Local authorities are responsible for providing support to pupils with additional support needs in mainstream education. When this support works well, children and young people with such needs are enabled to explore what they want to do, have control over their learning and take part in an education that prepares them for life after school.
That is why RNIB Scotland along with the ALLIANCE, Down’s Syndrome Scotland, ENABLE Scotland, Scottish Autism, National Deaf Children’s Society and Lead Scotland have written to all local authorities in Scotland urging them to protect ASN provision and asking how many pupils with additional support needs they have in their area, how much money is being allocated to ASN provision and how many specialist support teachers and pupil support assistants are there to support pupils. From the responses we will build up a picture of ASN provision across the country and emphasise how important this provision is to ensuring children and young people reach their full potential.
The Scottish Government allocated an additional £15million to improve additional support for learning in their latest programme for government. This is a welcome commitment to better resource ASN provision. Whilst it is difficult to disagree with the government’s Getting It Right for Every Child approach, the problem that consistently crops up across the board is ‘Getting It Funded Right for Every Child’. The intention is there but the resource can be found to be lacking.
We look forward to hearing back from local authorities and will continue to push for properly resourced ASN provision with colleagues from across the sector.