The Additional Support for Learning Act ( ASL Act) is key to ensuring children and young people make the most of the educational opportunities available to them. The Act is the framework for the provision of support for learning in Scotland and is key to the delivering our ambition that all children and young people access the learning opportunities which are available to them, so that they can realise their full potential, in learning, in work, and in life.
On 27 March 2014, the Children and Young People Bill was passed by Scottish Parliament and is now an Act. This Act will continue to help deliver on our ambitions to continue to provide greater support for children and families. The Bill contains a number of provisions which focus specifically on early intervention and prevention, which I fully support, especially where it might prevent an additional support need developing in the first place or an existing additional support need worsening.
Following the inaugural report to Parliament in 2011, last year's report continued to build on the feeling that, broadly, children and young people's learning needs, including their additional support needs, were well provided for in Scotland's learning establishments. However, those with 'hidden' additional support needs, for example those children and young people who are looked after, who have mental health difficulties, those in transition and those who are young carers, continue to require more support. There also continues to be a need to share practice to support more consistency in the identification of, and provision for, additional support needs. The long term plan of support will continue to be implemented over the course of the next two years and I am confident that those working in this field will continue to deliver, together to support our ambitions that every child has access to the additional support they need to reach their full potential.
In addition to fulfilling Scottish Minister's duty to report information required by the ASL Act, this report contains a wide range of other information gathered from inspection, and from schools and education authorities by Education Scotland. Year on year, we continue to collect and publish information on more additional support needs than ever before and this is reflective in the information contained in this year's report. Indeed, it is expected that this trend will continue over the coming years as we continue to work to improve the statistical collection relating to children and young people with additional support needs.
The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning continues to play a key role in maintaining the focus on the needs of children and young people by advising and supporting the development of national policy. Building on their valued contribution last year, the Advisory Group will consider how we ensure a continued improvement in the way we collect additional support needs statistics and will also continue to work on reviewing the Code of Practice for Additional Support for Learning, taking account of the provisions contained within the Children and Young People Bill. I once again thank them for their valuable contribution.
Dr Alasdair Allan
Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland's Languages