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happy, safe and achieving their potential: a standard of support for children and young people in Scottish schools


happy, safe and achieving their potential
a standard of support for children and young people in Scottish schools
the report of The National Review of Guidance 2004

annex b - supporting evidence

Three studies were conducted as part of this review:

  • Supporting Pupils: study of Guidance in Scottish Schools' (SCRE Centre, 2004). The Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE) conducted a literature review on guidance in Scotland, the UK and abroad. A questionnaire survey of Scottish Education Authorities was conducted, to which 26 responded. In-depth case studies were undertaken in 3 primary, 4 secondary and 1 special school, in which 2,413 pupils, 158 teachers and 100 parents completed questionnaires and a further 26 school staff and 20 members of other professions were interviewed, supported by 10 pupil focus groups and 2 teacher focus groups. Six lecturers in Higher Education Institutions were interviewed and 2 student focus groups were conducted, on initial teacher training in guidance.
  • Support in School, the Views of Harder to Reach Groups', (TASC Agency and CaskieCo, 2004). The TASC Agency and CaskieCo conducted a consultation to elicit the views of parents and pupils who may be disaffected with or excluded from mainstream schools. Their contacts were made through a range of agencies that provide learning or other support to children, young people and families, often by referral from schools or education authorities, or social work services. One hundred young people took part in interviews of small group discussions, and a further 18 made comments via an on-line questionnaire. Thirty-two parents took part in interviews or small group discussions, and a further 19 made comments via an on-line questionnaire. 10 agencies were interviewed, and a further 19 made comments via an on-line questionnaire.
  • Personal Support in Scottish Schools' (HMIE, 2004). HMIE produced a report based on evidence from HM Inspectorate's programmes of inspection of Scottish primary, secondary and special schools during the period 2000-2003.

Current Models of Pupil Support and Guidance 2003

Since the McCrone report and Better Behaviour - Better Learning (2001), many authorities and schools report that they have restructured, or are in the process of re-structuring, their provision of guidance and Personal Support. A range of models were observed in the research conducted by SCRE during the review, which used a range of staff in different roles, from which a general picture can be drawn:


Education for Personal and Social Development (PSD)



Children build a relationship with their regular class teacher and have contact with senior manager for specific difficulties

Delivered by all staff and integrated into the curriculum

All staff

Pupil progress planning and review; pastoral care and welfare; liaison with parents, support staff and others

Senior managers

Support to staff; intervention with children and families on specific care and welfare or behavioural issues

Develop partnership working

Integrated pupil support

Children build a relationship with a first-level contact; but can approach any member of staff including senior managers

Other forms of support (learning, behaviour support) are arranged into one team of staff

Delivered by a range of staff

All staff

Responsibility for groups of children (e.g. 20:1) is spread across the staff team, who play a first-line role and review pupil progress

Refer for specialist support when necessary

Senior staff

Specialist roles include learning support, behaviour support and pastoral care to form larger 'pupil support team'

Management and co-ordination of pupil support staff and development of partnerships with agencies

May have teaching role

Senior managers

Management and development of staff; strategic development of policies and practice and partnership working

'Specialist' guidance team**

Children build a relationship with a designated guidance teacher

Different teams of staff provide learning or behaviour support

Delivered by staff with a full-time guidance remit

All staff - review pupil progress; refer to specialist staff

Senior staff (may be full- and/or part-time)

Caseload approach (average 198:1)

Where full-time staff, teaching commitment is education for Personal and Social Development (PSD) only

Where part-time staff, retain subject teaching commitment

Liaise with learning and behaviour support and other partners

Develop and deliver education for PSD

Senior managers

Management and development of staff; strategic development of policies and practice and partnership working

*Observed in a primary and a special school
**The study observed two specialist guidance teams: one with full-time dedicated guidance staff and one with a mix of part-time guidance staff retaining subject-teaching commitment and co-ordinated by fewer full-time guidance staff

This typology of the systems observed in the case study schools stereotypes three basic approaches to help provide a general picture. Models vary widely throughout Scotland. In some schools there is good practice based on successfully developing elements of all of the models described here, and in other schools there are variations on one or combined approaches.

Features of Guidance and Pupil Support in Practice

The research conducted as part of this review and HMIE generally found that children, young people and parents were satisfied with the way support and guidance was delivered, regardless of the way in which it was structured within their school. Staff were similarly satisfied, and valued the role of support staff and specialist staff, while agreeing that all teachers should play their part in pastoral care.

A number of key points can be drawn from the research conducted during the review:

Organising pupil support and guidance

  • Pupil support and guidance in primary and special schools is embedded into the day-to-day work of all school staff. Few local authorities provide guidelines or policies on pupil support and guidance in these settings, but many staff in these settings regard pupil support as a core part of their duties as classroom teachers.
  • Of the different models of delivering pupil support and guidance in secondary schools, no particular model emerged as more effective. Increasing the number of support and guidance staff increased the number of adults that children and young people could approach, but did not increase children's and young people's use of support. However in an integrated approach this did mean that a wider range of staff were approached by children and young people.
  • Reviewing structures in schools, the roles of staff and their deployment, will help ensure all pupils receive the support they require.
  • Authorities and staff supported the emerging concept of the 'extended' pupil support and guidance team which includes the school's partner professionals and agencies, as well as other support staff within the school. However, there are challenges in involving other professionals when their services have waiting lists.
  • Agencies and school staff feel that inter-agency relationships are strengthened and enhanced by consistency of personnel, leading to the opportunity to build trusting relationships in order to communicate and collaborate.
  • Systems need to be developed to monitor and support the individual progress of pupils, combining the tracking of attainment, broader achievements and aspects of personal and social development.

Supporting and developing staff

  • In primary and special schools, all staff view pupil support and guidance as an aspect of their daily work. In secondary schools, the majority of staff accept that all teachers have a duty of care, but less than half accept that this encompasses a formal role in relation to pupil support and guidance.
  • Increasing demands on support in the primary and special settings means that staff feel they have a training need, particularly in aspects of multi-agency working and child and family welfare. Where promoted posts exist in primary schools, staff feel they can draw on additional support or refer pupils for more intensive support.
  • All staff, including support staff, would like continuing professional development on aspects of pupil support and guidance to be available and open to all staff (not just specialist guidance staff). Staff in a first-line pupil support role would like training and clarity on points at which referral to a specialist staff or other agency is necessary.
  • Arrangements for staff development and review of staff in pupil support roles requires improvement and there are variable approaches to training and accreditation for staff where pupil support is their main remit or a significant part of it.
  • Staff, children and young people felt that the personal qualities of support and guidance staff are more important than qualification.
  • All teachers should be prepared for their role as first-line of pupil support and guidance in initial teacher training.
  • Issues of confidentiality and sharing of information are important subjects for further staff development.
  • Education for personal and social development in the curriculum would be enhanced by improved staff training, particularly in secondary schools, and further development of national guidance on education for personal and social development.

Children and young people accessing support

  • Just over a third of children and young people surveyed reported having gone to see, or been sent to, a pupil support or guidance teacher for help. Having been to a support or guidance teacher once, these children were far more likely to go to a support or guidance teacher for help on personal issues.
  • Ninety per cent of the children and young people in the core study survey who had seen a support or guidance teacher reported this to be helpful or very helpful. In the study of 'hard-to-reach' children and young people, learning support and behaviour support teachers were felt to be most helpful, and any other teachers who made time to listen and support. Some expressed the view that guidance teachers were too busy and pressured.
  • Over half the children and young people surveyed in the core study said that they would be unwilling to talk to guidance staff about personal issues. Fear about lack of confidentiality was a major issue raised in the study on 'hard-to-reach' children and young people, whose circumstances meant that personal issues were often at the root of difficulties in school. Many felt that personal information had been handled badly by school staff.
  • Children in both studies wanted to feel confident that staff knew them, could give advice about life and maintain their confidences. Time and space to talk were important issues for hard-to-reach children and young people, some of whom remembered activities such as circle time and time in pupil support bases as a time when they felt happy and supported.
  • Transition stages remain an important area for development, to ensure appropriate support and advice for all pupils.
  • Support for curricular and vocational choice was felt to be good and developing approaches to enterprise in education are well received by pupils. Links with careers specialists and developing the expertise of key teachers helped ensure all pupils and their parents receive high quality advice.

Parents accessing support

  • Parents were generally content with the support and guidance provision in schools.
  • A number of parents commented on the perception of guidance as a service for those with problems, rather than a universal entitlement for all children and young people.
  • Information and communication was the main theme of parents' thoughts on improving support and guidance for children. Parents want more information on course choices, options on leaving school, and on transition between stages. Parents in the 'hard-to-reach' study felt that parents' evenings were intimidating and impersonal, and lacked privacy.
  • Schools' reporting on pupils' achievements and personal progress could be improved and communication on issues such as behaviour remain difficult for staff.
  • Parents, children and young people commented on the importance of friendly administrative and reception staff in schools, who could act as a gatekeeper of support.
  • While parents in the 'hard-to-reach' study expressed a need for more help and collaboration with school on managing aspects of behaviour of their children and young people, (primary) teachers in the core study perceived working with parents on issues such as behaviour a challenge and a further demand on their time.
  • Consultation with parents could be improved on aspects of pupil support and the content of programmes of education for personal and social development.

These findings suggest a number of imperatives for Personal Support in schools:

1. Children, young people and parents need more information on who will provide support and guidance in schools and on what kinds of issues - not all issues where support or advice is required are 'problems'. Universal issues such as planning for the future and course choices concern all children, young people and parents. The perception of Personal Support as a service for 'problems' may influence the way children and parents seek support.

2. Children and young people who do require support on personal issues at present seem less likely to approach school staff. This may be influenced by a limited relationship with school staff or lack of time and space to approach them, as well as lack of clarity on confidentiality. However, it is clear that for many children and young people, choice of support is important. An essential aspect of support in schools is therefore pro-active signposting to other local support services for children and young people and effective collaboration with other providers.

3. Consistency of staff is an important feature of successful partnership working, allowing trust and familiarity on approaches to develop. There is broad agreement that school-based staff should work closely with and use the skills of staff in other authority departments and agencies to develop preventive work as well as responses to children's and young people's difficulties. One of the barriers that needs to be overcome is information sharing. Agencies must actively manage and support the sharing of information recognising that confidentiality does not prevent information sharing where a child is in need of protection.

The HMIE report Personal Support for Pupils in Scottish Schools identified many strengths in the provision of Personal Support in Scottish schools. The full report is available at http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/publication/pspss.html. Further to this, HMIE pointed to areas of development required to improve Personal Support for pupils.

To ensure good Pastoral Support for pupils, schools and authorities may:

  • make maximum use of the potential of teaching assistants and staff from other services and professional backgrounds to play appropriate roles in providing aspects of pastoral support to pupils
  • ensure that all teachers, particularly at the secondary stage, fulfil their roles as the first point of contact for providing pastoral support to pupils
  • make full use of new opportunities that the Teachers' Agreement may provide for schools to develop innovative ways of delivering and improving care and pastoral support for pupils
  • ensure more effective early intervention for pupils experiencing a personal crisis
  • develop more effective joint working among staff in schools and with other relevant agencies in supporting vulnerable, alienated and disaffected children and young people and their families
  • develop and implement more effective ways of constructively engaging parents and carers who feel alienated from schools and education.

To ensure good education for personal and social development, schools and authorities may:

  • ensure the more consistent provision of coherent programmes of education for personal and social development in primary, secondary and special schools, which provide clear progression in pupils' learning in education for personal and social development from P1 to S6
  • resolve overlap between programmes of education for personal and social development and other aspects of the curriculum including health education and education for citizenship
  • ensure that all schools follow best practice in consulting with parents and carers when determining the content of programmes of education for personal and social development
  • ensure that staff who are delivering programmes of personal and social development are appropriately skilled and prepared through effective staff development.

To ensure good support for curricular and vocational choice, schools and authorities may:

  • develop expertise amongst relevant teachers and links with careers specialists to ensure that pupils and their parents and carers consistently receive the highest possible quality of vocational and careers advice in the contexts of greater flexibility in the curriculum and rapidly changing economy and society
  • ensure that all pupils experience a coherent and progressive programme in enterprise in education, including career education as an integral component.

To ensure good monitoring and evaluation of pupils' achievements, progress and development, schools and authorities may:

  • ensure that all schools implement effective arrangements for monitoring and supporting the progress of individual pupils, combining tracking of attainment, broader achievements and aspects of personal and social development
  • more consistently establish effective approaches to evaluating and recording progress in personal and social development
  • improve the use of Individual Education Plans and other forms of individual target setting to ensure that pupils have a simpler and clear understanding of what they are aiming to achieve
  • ensure that all parents and carers, including those who may be anxious or reluctant to attend regular school events, are effectively engaged in discussion about their child's progress.

To ensure a high quality environment for Personal Support, schools and authorities may:

  • review support structures in schools, including staff roles and deployment, to ensure that all pupils have the levels of Personal Support that they require
  • ensure that probationer teachers and relatively inexperienced teachers receive effective programmes of CPD to assist them to deliver their responsibilities for delivering Personal Support to pupils
  • ensure that schools consistently maintain and refresh their resources for PSD and have ready access to updated resources as required.

To ensure effective leadership and management of Personal Support, schools and authorities may:

  • ensure more effective use of more systematic and effective approaches to evaluating and improving provision for the Personal Support for pupils including education for PSE programmes
  • establish more integrated approaches to leading and managing the full range of support for pupils provision within schools and ensuring that the most effective use is made of input available from other professionals and agencies.