To reiterate, 30.9% of a population is not marginal. The evidence is that fulfilling the vision of the Additional Support for Learning legislation through "tweaking" systems and provision around a baseline assumption of educating children who may have support needs, but not "additional" support needs is not workable. We need a different starting point: all out children and all their support needs.
The following package of interlinked and co-dependent recommendations are not a quick fix. They need to challenge and cause discomfort but if the will is there, they are the starting point for creating a real grounding for the environment needed for all our children and young people to learn and flourish whatever their needs are.
Visible leadership to drive momentum for change and to maintain the visibility of children and young people who have additional support needs in public life is essential.
Equally important is the imperative that at all levels, those that lead the change stay grounded by continually testing the gap between intention and reality through listening to the people who are at the heart of implementation: Children and young people, parents and carers, school staff and other professionals.
That feedback loop must be embedded to close the current gap between intention and reality in the implementation of the additional support for learning legislation, thus fully enabling the inclusion of all children and young people who face barriers to achieving their potential.
Where possible these recommendations have been developed in partnership with key stakeholders. In support of that, the Chair has engaged with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group (ASLIG) throughout this process.
Should these recommendations be accepted then ASLIG will support and oversee the progress made against them.
Theme 1: Vision and visibility
Recommendation 1.1 Vision statement
- A national, overarching Vision Statement for success for children and young people who have additional support needs must be developed by the end of 2020, with the full involvement of children and young people.
- This vision statement must be developed alongside a positive public communication plan that highlights the range of conditions and issues identified in the additional support for learning legislation. This will be one of the ways in which the profile of additional support for learning is raised to ensure equity for all children and young people.
- The achievements and successes of children and young people with additional support needs must be celebrated publicly, in equivalence to attainment and exam results.
- The language used to describe children and young people with additional support needs, and the services that support them, must be changed. It should move away from describing children and young people as their condition and should not be solely focused on deficits.
Recommendation 1.2 Measurement
- A national measurement framework for additional support for learning must be developed to ensure that there is no reduction in aspiration and ambition for all children and young people to achieve to the maximum of their learning potential. The National Improvement Framework must be revised to ensure parity for additional support for learning.
- This framework must be rooted in improvement methodology and assist in reinforcing a culture of improvement rather than compliance. The main objective of measurement and recording will be to support local improvement rather than comparisons between Authorities.
- The test measures must recognise that qualifications are not relevant learning objectives for all children and young people and those children and young people are not failures because of that. The Milestones to Support Learners with Complex Additional Support Needs, introduced in 2018, along with the Curriculum review are positive reference points and should be taken into account.
- The measures must value and ensure visibility of the diverse range of achievements, including in vocational learning, that are possible for all children and young people with additional support needs and reflect what they and their families feel are important for their (future) quality of life.
- The investment in Pupil Support Assistants must be measured for impact and improvement on children and young people's experiences and achievements. Local authority and school managers must plan a strategy to review the deployment of Pupil Support Assistants, which takes account of recommendations from the current national research Education Endowment Fund (2018).
- A plan must be developed and implemented to test how the National Performance Framework can be expanded to include achievement measures that go beyond the current narrow parameters of attainment and qualifications (based on the National Performance Framework values).
Theme 2: Mainstreaming and inclusion
Recommendation 2.1 Integration of additional support for learning into the Independent Review of Curriculum for Excellence
- The Independent Review of Curriculum for Excellence must fully integrate the findings of this Review and focus on all children, affording equity to those with additional support needs.
- To fully achieve this, the Independent Review of Curriculum for Excellence must maintain a strong and central focus on the experience of all children, young people, parents and carers and the professionals in closest connection with them.
Recommendation 2.2. The Scottish Education Council
- The work of the Scottish Education Council must be informed by the findings of this Review.
Theme 3: Maintaining focus, but overcoming fragmentation
Recommendation 3.1 Leadership and Strategic Planning
- There must be clear values-driven leadership, shared communication, support and challenge at all levels of the system to ensure that the experiences and achievements of children and young people with additional support needs are visible and continue to be improved.
- In order to drive a holistic approach and support the visibility of children and young people with additional support needs, local authority planning must incorporate the implications of additional support for learning for all local authority and partner services.
Recommendation 3.2 Fully integrated policy making
- Children and young people with additional support needs must be proactively and fully considered in policy making and appropriate cross-Government links made at the earliest stage.
- Children and young people, parents and carers must be partners in the development of key policies and guidance across the system.
Theme 4: Resources
Recommendation 4.1 Audit Scotland
- Audit Scotland must use the key themes in this report, and the associated findings from Audit Scotland’s audit of educational outcomes, to inform the scope of their national performance audit on outcomes for children and young people with additional support needs.
- This must include assessing spend on additional support for learning across services, its impact on attainment and outcomes for children and young people at all stages; highlighting good practice and gaps.
Recommendation 4.2 Role of Grant Aided Special Schools
- The Grant Aided Special Schools and three national centres must use the opportunities that arise from the commissioning strand of the Doran Review to consider how their specialist expertise (including in prevention and de-escalation) can be developed to be complementary to statutory mainstream and specialist provision, in order to support improvement in the experiences and outcome of children and young people with additional support needs.
Theme 5: Workforce Development and support
Recommendation 5.1 Teacher Education and Development
Teacher recruitment, selection, education and professional development and learning processes must align with the changed and changing profile of children and young people in Scotland, ensuring:
- All teachers hold and enact professional values of inclusion and inclusive practice and see this as a core part of their role. (Codes of Conduct/Standards)
- All teachers understand what additional support needs are. They are clear about their role in supporting the identification of additional support needs and the need to adapt their teaching to ensure a meaningful learning experience for all their learners.
- All teacher education and development includes nationally specified practice and skills development in supporting learners with additional support needs, as a core element.
- Practice learning and development at local level must include where and how to access specialists' expertise and support.
- Communication, relationship building and positive mediation skills development are incorporated and embedded into teacher education and development, supported by coaching and mentoring opportunities.
- Parity of career progression, pathway structures and opportunities for specialist teachers of Additional Support for Learning:
- The focus and methods for teacher education and practice learning are directly informed and developed by the feedback of teachers.
- Innovative and partnership approaches to practice learning should be developed including delivery and participation of children, young people, parents and carers.
Recommendation 5.2 Pupil Support Assistants
- The Classroom Support Staff working group must, as part of their work, undertake a review of roles and remit of Pupil Support Assistants. This must include the development of clear specifications for how classroom teacher and pupil support assistant roles interact and complement each other. It must also consider standards of practice, learning pathways, career progression routes and remuneration.
Theme 6: Relationships between schools and parents
Recommendation 6.1 Relationships between schools and parents
- Schools and local authorities must work in partnership with parents and carers to develop, and deliver, ways of working together that support and promote positive relationships, communication and co-operation.
- This must include clear pathways on transitions for children and young people with additional support needs, in the context of learning for life, allowing parents, carers, children, young people and professionals to be informed and supported at key transition points.
- Parents and carers must be involved as equal partners in the development of key guidance, to contribute their knowledge and lived experience.
- Further investment is needed to strengthen support services for families; allowing these services, and the support that they provide, to be embedded.
- The benefits of the use of mediation must be widely promoted at a national, regional and local level and consideration should be given to how mediation can be developed through professional learning, to support the workforce.
Theme 7: Relationships and behaviour
Recommendation 7.1 Relationships and Behaviour
- The remit of the Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools (SAGRABIS) must be reviewed and widened to bring it up to date and in line with emerging knowledge and recommended practices, including the findings of this Review. The membership of the group must be reviewed in line with the refreshed remit.
- SAGRABIS should have a primary focus on relationships and behaviour, but also the ability to focus on wider additional support for learning issues, developing improvement priorities and ensuring those priorities are reflected at a national, local and regional level. In doing so, SAGRABIS must ensure they work closely with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group.
Theme 8: Understanding Rights
Recommendation 8.1 Rights
- The incorporation of UNCRC, and its impact on Additional Support for Learning legislation and processes, must be fully anticipated and planned for to ensure children’s rights are embedded and effectively underpin the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning legislation.
Recommendation 8.2 Coordinated Support Plan Review
- The planned review of Coordinated Support Plans (CSPs) must take the findings of this Review into account.
- Also, it must consider:
- planning mechanisms within a whole life perspective for children and young people with lifelong conditions, including transitions between and beyond education settings;
- clarifying the interaction between CSPs, child’s plan and GIRFEC;
- the relationship between education and partners in health, social work and other agencies to identify where re-alignment is needed in the preparation and delivery of support; and
- Where improvements are needed in the availability and accessibility of information and guidance about planning, and its processes, for all parents, carers, children and young people.
Theme 9: Assurance Mechanism
Recommendation 9.1 Assurance mechanism
- Following this Review, there must be a mechanism put in place to allow progress against these recommendations to be reported and scrutinised. This should be developed in partnership with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group. A progress report should be produced for Scottish Ministers and COSLA one year after the publication of this report and its recommendations.
- Local authorities must take account of the findings of this report to review and align their quality assurance processes. This must drive improvements in processes, practice and outcomes at all levels in the system.
Recommendation 9.2 Education Scotland
- Education Scotland must take account of the findings of this report and take action to ensure that their scrutiny frameworks, and inspection activities, are in line with it.
- Education Scotland must use the findings of this Review, and the conditions identified for good practice, to support and develop improvement in local authorities, regional improvement collaboratives and schools.