Background and Review process
A review of the implementation of additional support for learning in schools was announced by John Swinney MSP, the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills in January 2019. Angela Morgan was appointed as the independent Chair of the review in September 2019.
The remit of the Review was to consider the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning legislation and specifically:
- how additional support for learning works in practice across early learning and childcare centres, primary, secondary and special schools (including enhanced provision, services and units);
- where children and young people learn within the balance of the provision set out above, recognising that not all local authority areas have all of those provisions;
- the quality of learning and support, including overall achievement and positive destinations achieved post-school;
- the different approaches to planning and assessment to meet the needs of children and young people;
- the roles and responsibilities of support staff, teaching staff, leadership roles, education authorities and national agencies; and
- the areas of practice that could be further enhanced through better use of current resources to support practice, staffing or other aspects of provision.
The remit of the Review did not include consideration of the Presumption of Mainstreaming legislation itself and considered the areas above within existing resources.
The remit of the Review and reporting arrangements were agreed between the Scottish Government, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES).
Approach taken by the Review
The Review has undergone three phases
Phase 1: Desk review
August 2019 – September 2019
Analysis was undertaken of evidence published between 2017-2019, which highlighted key themes and concerns and contributed to shaping Phase 2.
Phase 2: Engagement and listening
October 2019 - January 2020
The Review Chair prioritised the time and resource of the Review to hear directly from those most involved and affected by the implementation of the Additional Support for Learning legislation in practice. Considerable efforts were made to engage with children, young people, parents and carers with direct and lived experience and practitioners in and beyond education who are directly involved in delivery of services.
Many different people and groups have shared their experiences, perspectives and views through the Chair's email address, in telephone calls and face to face meetings, individually and in groups. Representational, membership and specialist bodies and networks submitted documented comment and analysis. This included summaries following sessions with their members.
The perspective of the agencies and leaders who hold responsibility at a strategic level within the statutory agencies has also been sought and considered within the process.
Evidence heard by the Review: balancing perspectives
The Review was initiated due to the widespread acceptance that not all children and young people are flourishing, and that the legislation and implementation have not achieved all aims. Therefore, as was anticipated, the broad engagement process of the Review was dominated by concerns and negative experiences.
There were also examples of excellent practice, dedicated professionals, loving families and thriving children and young people.
Phase 3: Report and recommendations
Taken together, these phases have enabled the Chair to gather evidence, complete analytical work, and reach conclusions to support recommendations for change.