6. Additional Support Needs
The pandemic has had a significant impact on children and young people with additional support needs, and our goal during these challenging times has been to maintain attendance and engagement in learning wherever possible.
Children and young people with additional support needs, and in particular those with complex additional support needs, were able to return to in-person learning and support from 5 January 2021. Their return to their own school was prioritised, in an effort to rebuild routines and access to the learning support that they need, including therapeutic and language support. This approach has been sustained throughout 2021, helping to reconnect children and young people with additional support needs with learning and support.
We also recognised that, for those schools whose learners have complex additional support needs, ensuring adherence to required mitigations can be particularly challenging. In partnership with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group, further guidance to aid colleagues working with children and young people with complex additional support needs was published in January 2021 to support the continued attendance and participation of all pupils.
Other support includes:
- Continued investment of £15m funding for enhanced support in schools through the provision of pupil support staff.
- Our guidance on vulnerable children and young people highlights the potential impact of the pandemic on children with complex additional support needs and the importance of continuing to providing support, initially through educational hubs.
- Education Scotland provide specific resources on Parentzone Scotland, and the Wakelet Learners with Complex Additional Support Needs: Resources and guidance for parents to support their child's learning at home for parents and carers to support their children whenever they may need to learn at home.
- In line with support to education authorities, we also supported Grant-Aided Special Schools through £1m additional funding, to meet the additional costs of implementing mitigations and to support the maintenance of education provision for children and young people with complex additional support needs. Donations from organisations such as the Scottish Book Trust further helped to support the tailored care plans in place to support the most vulnerable children and families.
In addition to the work set out above, we will take the following key next steps to ensure support for children and young people with additional support needs and recover from the impacts of COVID-19:
(1) Throughout 2021 our approach to maintaining children and young people's learning will continue, with any additional specific actions required being considered by the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group.
(2) We will continue our work to enhance support for learning through the implementation of the recommendations of the Additional Support for Learning Review.
(3) We will report progress on the implementation of the review to Scottish Ministers and COSLA.