The consultation on the draft guidance, Excellence and Equity for All: Guidance on the Presumption of Mainstreaming, ran from 2 November 2017 to 9 February 2018. The document contained 9 questions aimed at obtaining views on each part of the draft guidance.
The draft guidance sought to do two things - to ensure that local authorities have the guidance required to help their decision making in applying the presumption of mainstreaming and to improve inclusive practice in schools.
A total of 362 written responses were received, 87 from organisations and 275 from individuals.
The aim of the analysis was to present the wide range of views offered. The responses were examined using a qualitative thematic approach and the key points from the analysis are summarised here.
Responses to the consultation varied, some focussed on providing comment on the draft guidance itself while other respondents used the consultation as an opportunity to comment on current practice and implementation of additional support for learning policy more generally.
The presumption of mainstreaming of children and young people with additional support needs attracts polarised views which are evident within the responses to the consultation. There are passionate views, both for and against, which are often, but not always, informed by personal opinions as well as experience. The consultation has attracted a wide range of views reflecting a range of positions on the presumption of mainstream education.
There was strong support for the vision and principles underpinning the document and practice as envisaged in the draft guidance. It was clear that there was some conflation of the presumption of mainstreaming with inclusion and a misunderstanding that inclusion always meant going to a mainstream school when the message set out in the document was about the importance of children being included no matter what setting they were in. There was support for the expectations set out within the draft guidance, the guidance for applying the presumption of mainstreaming and for the material on how schools could look to develop their inclusive practice. There was a mixed view on the helpfulness/usefulness of the case studies provided, with a similar proportion responding positively or negatively to them.
The concerns raised in the consultation were not, in the main about the vision and principles or the practice as envisaged in the draft guidance, but that current practice did not meet those aspirations and that if the guidance was to be implemented effectively, practice would have to be strengthened and supports put in place to achieve this. The most common concern reported was resources and this included having sufficient numbers of teachers and support staff, access to specialist supports, specialist provision within local areas and the physical environment of schools. The attitudes and ethos of practitioners was seen as crucial and that there had to be more training put in place to support teachers and support staff.
A summary of the responses to each of the questions is set out below. The methodology section (page 6) sets out an explanation of the terms used to indicate relative prevalence and the number and percentage responses for each question can be found within the body of the report.
Question 1: Do you agree with the vision for inclusive education in Scotland?
The majority of those that responded to this question agreed with the vision for inclusive education in Scotland. Of that subset, many of those respondents caveated their responses by raising concerns about implementation and how the system currently operated. Many of the respondents who responded to the question did not agree with the vision for inclusive education in Scotland. These responses were split between those that did not agree with the vision in principle and those that had concerns around implementation.
Question 2: Do you agree with these principles?
A large majority of those that responded to this question agreed with the principles. Of that subset, the majority of those respondents caveated their responses by raising concerns about implementation and how the system currently operated. Some of the respondents did not agree with the principles. The majority of this sub set did not comment on the principles themselves but on issues around implementation of them.
Question 3: Are the expectations set out under each of the 'present, participating, achieving and supported' principles the right ones?
The majority of those that responded thought the expectations set out were the right ones. Of that subset, many of those respondents caveated this by stating that they didn't think that current practice matched the expectations set out in the document. Many respondents commented that they did not think the expectations were the right ones. Individual respondents were more likely to disagree with the section and the majority of this subset did not focus on the drafting of the section but on how practice currently operated.
Question 4: Are the entitlements and options for provisions clear?
The majority of those that responded found the entitlements and options for provisions as set out in the document to be clear. Many respondents commented that they did not find the entitlements and options for provision clear. Individual respondents were more likely to disagree with the section and the majority of this subset did not focus on the drafting of the section but on how practice currently operated.
Question 5: Is the commentary and the reflective questions on each of the exemptions helpful?
The majority of respondents found the commentary and reflective questions helpful. Many of those that responded saying they were helpful expressed concern that current practice didn't match what was set out in the section. Of those that did not find them helpful comments split between comments on the section and comments on implementation more generally.
Question 6: Are there any areas missing, requiring strengthening, or which are not required and could be removed?
The majority of the respondents that responded to this question provided comments on the eight key areas identified within the section. A wide range of comments and opinions were provided. Many respondents to this question didn't offer comment on the section itself but raised concerns about the system more generally.
Question 7: Were the case studies helpful?
There was a mixed view on the helpfulness/usefulness of the case studies provided, with a similar proportion responding positively or negatively to them. Responses split between comments on case studies themselves and concerns about current practice.
Question 8: Overall, is the guidance helpful?
The majority of respondents said that they found the guidance helpful. Of that subset, many of those respondents caveated their response by highlighting issues around current practice and resources. Many of the respondents said that they did not find the guidance helpful, in the main because of concerns around implementation.
Question 9: Are there any other comments you would wish to make about the draft guidance on the presumption of mainstreaming?
There were a wide range of responses to this question. The majority of responses concentrated on additional support for learning more generally although many responses did comment on the guidance itself and possible inclusions to it. Organisations were more likely to provide comments on the guidance and individuals were more likely to comment on additional support for learning more generally.