The majority of respondents welcomed 'Scotland's Ten Year Strategy for the Learning Provision for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs 2017-2026'.
There was a strong message in the responses that the strategy would benefit from the inclusion of the following:
- A high level timeline and action plan for implementation;
- Detail on how progress in implementing the Strategy would be measured; and
- How this would be reported.
A few respondents wanted to see more work carried out to try to establish a definition of complex additional support needs. As stated in the strategy document due to a multiplicity of factors and the impact of specific contexts in different local authorities, providing a rigorous, clearly bounded and universally accepted definition of complex additional support needs would be difficult. It has potential to result in unforeseen consequences that could have a negative impact on the children and young people this strategy is trying to support. Defining complex additional support needs would undermine the framework that the Additional Support for Learning Act is based upon, that being the need to identify and provide for the individual needs of pupils with additional support needs.
A few responses also highlighted some concerns in the availability of robust data for children and young people with complex additional support needs. All schools and local authorities must ensure that accurate and consistent data on the additional support needs of their children and young people is captured. This enables schools to maintain a full record of those children and young people with additional support needs and to deliver their statutory responsibilities. Work is already underway to update SEEMiS guidance, which will include definitions of additional support needs in schools; this will be published later in 2018.
In addition, the design of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) has been informed by consultation with key stakeholder groups, including a standing group for additional support needs and accessibility, and rigorous testing of the assessments with children and young people throughout Scotland. Following the programme of consultation and testing, the following provisions were formalised within the SNSA implementation from August 2017:
- No time limitation for completion of assessments;
- SNSA compatibility with adaptive software supporting children and young people with sensory needs i.e. readers, screen resolution adaptability, font sizing and colour contrasting;
- Full ASN Guidance for professionals provided within the assessment platform
- All training programmes provide specific guidance on use of the assessments by children and young people with additional support needs;
- Children and young people have access to the range of supports available during every day learning and teaching activities;
- All questions contained within the SNSA are assured by Education Scotland for cultural and educational relevance to the Scottish context;
- The presentation platform and all questions within the SNSA are assessed by accessibility specialists to ensure each conforms to international accessibility standards;
- During implementation, stakeholder groups continue to be consulted to inform future planning.
In relation to the responses to Question 5 on the 'Scope of the Services to be commissioned', it is noted that the majority of the feedback/comments and suggestions were closely aligned to the findings from 'The Needs Analysis for Strategic Commissioning of Services for Children and Young People with Complex Additional Support Needs', which was published in March 2015.
Many respondents in response to Question 5 raised the theme of transition provision. This featured slightly more in the responses to the consultation than it did in the needs analysis.
There was strong support for the strategy's aim of training and development for staff working with children and young people with complex additional support needs. While the majority of respondents welcomed specific Leadership training in the sector of complex additional support needs, many expressed the view that this needs to be done within the context of providing high quality training and development for all staff working in the sector and not just leaders/managers and teachers.
Those supportive of Leadership training wanted more information on how a leadership model would be developed. We will set out further information, in the updated strategy document.
Many respondents highlighted Education Reform and asked that the strategy is reviewed and amended accordingly to ensure that the strategy aligns with any changes under the reform agenda.
A few respondents highlighted that the ten-year strategy was light on detail pertaining to early years. It is our intention as part of the outcome of this consultation to update the ten-year strategy to include links to early years policy and the early years inclusion fund.
Family engagement and the voice of children and young people was a theme raised by a number of respondents. The main conclusion was that the strategy would benefit from strengthening in this area.
We plan to strengthen the strategy with a section that clarifies how we have engaged with families, children and young people so far; and how their input has shaped the recommendations in the original Doran Review and in turn the strategy. Looking forward we will also link the strategy to the work under the Education Reform around parental/family engagement, as well as, the extension of Children's Rights on the 10 January 2018, which extended rights under the Additional Support for Learning Act to children aged 12 to 15.
We will further strengthen this section of the strategy by making links to the three-year national action plan on parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning from home. In particular, we will ensure that parental perspectives in relation to children and young people with complex additional support needs are considered as part of any new statutory guidance and the national action plan.
In relation to Question 8 on the governance arrangements, a few respondents noted some concern that there was a lack of parent/carers and children and young people represented on the National Commissioning Group and the National Strategic Commissioning Project Board. The National Parent Forum Scotland (NPFS) sit on both the National Commissioning Group and the Strategic Commissioning Project Board. The NPFS represents Parents Councils across Scotland and their aim is to 'represent parents in pursuit of maximising every pupils potential'. In relation to children and young people, a member from the Children and Young People's Commissioners Scotland team sits on both the National Commissioning Group and the Strategic Commissioning Project Board – the Commissioner and his team, work to protect the rights of children and young people living in Scotland. In addition, we will review the representation of these groups on the National Commissioning Group and the National Strategic Commissioning Project Board.
Finally, in response to Question 8 a few respondents raised some issues with the membership of the National Commissioning Group and impartiality of the decision making process for commissioning of services because Grant Aided Special Schools are represented on the National Commissioning Group. The principle of strategic commissioning as a model requires that service users and providers are part of the process. The collaborative partnership approach is a fundamental principle of strategic commissioning.