Consultation on excellence and equity for all: guidance on the presumption of mainstreaming

The guidance aims to ensures that local authorities have the guidance required to help their decision making in applying the presumption of mainstreaming.

2 Key features of inclusion – present, participating, achieving and supported

9. There are four key features of inclusion which can be used to set expectations and evaluate children and young people’s inclusion in their learning environment – present, participating, achieving and supported. These four features support the creation of an inclusive learning environment for all children and young people that enables them to reach their full potential.


Key expectations:

  • All children and young people will be entitled to receive a full time education in a school which best suits their needs
  • All children and young people should be fully engaged in the life of their school, through the inclusive ethos, culture and values of the school

10. The presumption of mainstreaming enshrines the right of all children to be physically present in mainstream schools. Presence remains a central issue in the wider debate on inclusion and is the feature upon which inclusive practices are founded.

11. Alongside the placement decision, which is addressed in greater depth later in this guidance, presence is evidenced by attendance at school. Included, Engaged, Involved – Part 1: Attendance in Scottish Schools is a useful document for directing schools on how to evaluate and manage attendance. It also provides proactive steps for schools to take to build the positive relationships which can prevent poor attendance. Presence is also evidenced by a reduced level of exclusions from school, where exclusion is the last resort in the context of promoting positive behaviour and relationships. This is also true of unlawful exclusions, such as children and young people being sent home for ‘cooling off’ periods, which should never be used without a formal planning process.


Key expectations:

  • All children and young people should have their voices heard in decisions about their education. This includes decisions on where they are placed
  • All children and young people should have access to an excellent education
  • All children and young people will have the opportunity to participate and engage as fully as possible in all aspects of school life, including school trips and extracurricular activity

12. Participation does not merely refer to school work, homework and involvement in subjects which may pose challenges for individual children and young people. Participation is also about addressing involvement in the wider school and local community; it is about feeling included as a peer, forming firm relationships and friendships and developing the skills which are so important to lifelong learning and success. Participation is full involvement in the life of the school through events, trips, school plays, and sports; it is about finding an avenue for children and young people to contribute and feel like that contribution is valued. All opportunities to participate in the life of the school should be available to all pupils, including those with additional support needs, and these should be appropriately supported.


Key expectations:

  • All children and young people should be achieving to their full potential
  • All children and young people should have access to a varied curriculum tailored to meet their needs

13. This guidance is very clear on the ambition the Scottish Government has for each and every child and young person in Scotland – all children and young people should receive the support that they need to reach their full potential, in learning, life and work. Curriculum for Excellence sets out children and young people’s entitlements to education through both the Broad General Education and the Senior Phase. These entitlements apply equally to all children and young people, including those who have additional support needs. The Education (Additional Support for Learning Act) (Scotland) 2004 (as amended) and the Experiences and Outcomes of Curriculum for Excellence enable a tailored approach to meeting the learning needs of all pupils. The Delivering Inclusion section of this guidance reflects on how this could be achieved, with case studies of best practice in Scotland that should inspire an ambitious approach for all children and young people.


Key expectations:

  • All children and young people should be supported to overcome barriers to learning and achieve their full potential
  • All children and young people should be given the right help, at the right time, from the right people, to support their wellbeing in the right place

14. Support is primarily about how children and young people are enabled to achieve their full potential and receive support for their wellbeing. To achieve their full potential, barriers to learning must be identified and addressed for all children and young people through personalised learning pathways.

15. In order to support the wellbeing of all children and young people it is important to consider the wellbeing indicators of Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included. Appropriate support should then be provided to ensure wellbeing entitlements are delivered for all children and young people. This, in turn, will form part of the support they need to achieve their full potential.

The diagram below will provide a useful reference point when assessing wellbeing.

reference point when assessing wellbeing


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