1. This document is to provide guidance to education authorities on their duty to provide education in a mainstream school or early learning and childcare setting unless certain exceptions apply. This guidance sets this duty within the context of other policies and related duties. It also sets the presumption of mainstreaming within inclusive practices. This guidance is for policy and decision makers in education authorities, education authority officers, senior management teams in schools and early learning and childcare settings and all school and early learning and childcare staff.
2. The Scottish Government believes that mainstreaming must be delivered within an inclusive approach. The Scottish vision for inclusive education, which applies to all settings, is set out below:
'Inclusive education in Scotland starts from the belief that education is a human right and the foundation for a more just society. An inclusive approach which recognises diversity and holds the ambition that all children and young people are enabled to achieve to their fullest potential is the cornerstone to achieve equity and excellence in education for all of our children and young people.'
3. In Scotland, the right to an education which is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential is enshrined in law.
4. This guidance aims to support:
- improved outcomes and the delivery of excellence and equity for all children and young people
- meeting the learning needs of all children and young people
- an inclusive approach which identifies and addresses barriers to learning for all children
- and empowers children and young people, parents and carers, teachers, practitioners and communities
5. Inclusive practice is considered in this document through four key features of inclusion. These can be used to evaluate whether or not inclusive practices are in place. These are:
These features will be explored further throughout this document.
6. Since the duty to provide education in a mainstream school or early learning and childcare setting was introduced in 2003, the legislative and policy landscape in Scotland has changed. Annex A sets this out in detail.
7. There is a clear, single vision for Scottish education – excellence and equity for every child and young person in Scotland.
8. To realise this ambitious vision and the legislation and policy that underpins it, more needs to be done to get it right for every child and to ensure that they are all experiencing equity and excellence.