Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill: consultation

We are committed to protecting, respecting and championing the rights of people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent people. This consultation on proposals for a Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill seeks the views of everyone on how we can do this.

Section 13: Education

This section relates to children and young people in early years, primary and secondary school education settings. Higher and Further Education and University education is considered within the scope of another section in this consultation, called Children and Young People -Transitions to Adulthood.

What we heard

Neurodivergent children and young people, and children and young people with learning disabilities, should be able to reach their full potential and live happy and fulfilling lives. Without the right learning experiences and support, these children and young people are likely to be disadvantaged, their quality of life adversely affected and their aspirations unreached. This can be particularly felt by children and young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities for whom specialist education is the most appropriate option.

Neurodivergent children and young people, and children and young people with learning disabilities, their families, and organisations that represent them have consistently raised concerns that these groups are not having their right to education fulfilled and are missing out on reaching their full potential, which may contribute to poorer outcomes in adult life.[311] 2

In Scotland, the education system aims to be inclusive. There is a legal presumption that children will be educated in mainstream schools other than in exceptional circumstances.[312]

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (“the ASL Act”) sets out rights, duties and obligations for children and young people with additional support needs (ASN) for learning. A person has ASN if ‘for whatever reason’ they are unlikely to be able to benefit from school education without additional support (“School education” includes Early Learning and Childcare). This broad meaning of ASN in practice includes children and young people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent children and young people, who require additional support to benefit from school education. Other reasons that children and young people may have additional support needs include, for example, if they have a hearing impairment, if they are a young carer or if they are adopted.

The most recent pupil census statistics shows that in 2022, 241,639 pupils had identified with ASN needs (34.2% of the school roll), compared with 69,587 in 2010 (10.3% of the school roll).[313]

The ELC census in 2022 showed that 16,500 child registrations were for children with ASN (18% of total registrations), compared with 15,020 registrations and 16% of total registrations in 2017.[314] (Comparisons cannot be made with 2010 data for ELC as changes were made in 2017 as to how additional support needs were recorded.)

In relation to outcomes for pupils with ASN, the percentage of school leavers with ASN from mainstream secondary schools in an initial positive destination is consistently lower than for pupils without ASN.[315]

Additional support for learning is an issue that has been raised in evidence regularly with the Scottish Parliament. In 2017, the then Education and Skills Committee undertook a short inquiry on how it was working in practice.[316] It reported[317] that there had been an “exponential” increase in the recorded incidence of children with ASN in Scotland, beyond many people’s expectations, and was encouraged by figures on positive outcomes for those with ASN. However, a number of concerns and recommendations were raised, including: the observation that there is a gap between policy and practice; in relation to lack of resources; inconsistent approaches in different local authority areas; the attainment gap; provision of specialist and appropriately trained teaching staff; advocacy and information; and, co-ordinated support plans.

We consequently established the Morgan Review of Additional Support for Learning, which reported in 2020.[318] The Review did not find any deficits in ASL legislation or policy itself but observed that the challenge is in translating the policy intention of that legislation into thousands of individual responses for individual children and young people who face different learning barriers. The Review concluded that ASN is not equally recognised and that pupils’ achievements are not equally valued within Scotland’s education system, and that, therefore, its implementation is inconsistent and does not ensure that all children and young people who need additional support are being supported to flourish and fulfil their potential.

The Review made several themed recommendations, including in relation to resources, workforce development and support, and leadership and strategic planning.

More recently, the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children and Young People Committee begun another inquiry into ASN, with views invited by 31 December 2023.[319] The Inquiry will focus on:

  • the implementation of the presumption of mainstreaming;
  • the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ASN; and
  • the use of remedies set out in the ASL Act.

In relation to teacher workforce training, the Education Institute for Scotland’s report on ASN in 2018[320] noted that, at that time, teachers expressed serious concerns about their access to professional learning on ASN: 87% strongly disagreed or disagreed when asked if they had sufficient time to undertake professional development opportunities. The Report noted that access to specialist qualifications on ASN had been eroded and that teachers who engaged in professional learning on ASN did so voluntarily and in their own time.

The Morgan Review subsequently noted that, at that time, 98% of the education workforce felt that initial teacher training did not adequately prepare teachers for teaching children and young people who have ASN. The Review also noted that there was, at that time, minimal requirement for focus on additional support for learning as part of Initial Teacher Education (ITE).

Probationary teachers in their first year of teaching told the Review that their only awareness had been a “short input on legislation” relating to ASN and that they felt ill prepared in terms of knowledge, understanding and practice skills.

In its final report, the Review highlighted concerns about both ITE and Continued Professional Development (CPD), noting a reduction in specialist staff available in school to provide specialist training and the ability of school staff to take time out from other work pressures to train. The Review recommended that:

  • all teacher education and development includes nationally specified practice and skills development in supporting learners with additional support needs as a core element;
  • all teachers understand what additional support needs are. They are clear about their role in supporting the identification of additional support needs and the need to adapt their teaching to ensure a meaningful learning experience for all their learners; and,
  • there should be a first teaching qualification in additional support needs available during ITE.

In relation to Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs), the Education and Skills Committee[321] noted in a 2017 report that the use of CSPs had declined and expressed concern as access to many of the rights in ASN legislation depend on statutory support being in place.

What did LEAP think?

LEAP members provided the following views and suggestions for improvement:

  • There should be a right to inclusive education.
  • There should be more focus and better training on neurodivergence and learning disabilities in Initial Teacher Training. This should be part of the core curriculum. There should also be neurodivergence and learning disabilities training for teachers as part of their Continuous Professional Development (“professional update training”). Current training isn’t in-depth enough, or condition specific.
  • Education plans aren’t followed in practice. There is a need for increased accountability.
  • Whilst there is a right to support in the education setting, this is not being felt in practice. Better accountability is needed.
  • There should be improved access to online learning and other alternative learning methods.
  • The education system should be holistic in its support of the whole person, not just academic learning. There should be an ability to gain qualifications through experience instead of traditional exams.
  • Assessments for specialist staff in classrooms are inconsistent and seem to be made on the basis of available resources rather than the needs of the child or young person. There is a need for more consistency and accountability.
  • ASN legislation is not being implemented appropriately in practice due to resources and funding. This infringes the rights that children and young people have.
  • There is a need to record and publish data on part time timetables for neurodivergent people and people with learning disabilities.
  • It was thought that there is an issue with girls and people assigned female at birth often being un-, mis-, or late-diagnosed and so are unable to benefit from ASN educational school support.
  • There were concerns that there may be extensive use of exclusion, and restraint, in Scottish schools (to note that restraint is discussed in a separate section of this consultation).
  • The ability to access advocacy should be made available earlier in the process, before a Tribunal. This is a lengthy process and there is likely to be less need for a Tribunal if children, young people and their families were able to access advocacy earlier.
  • Meany LEAP members with learning disabilities noted that they are still affected by traumatic school experiences and that there should be a redress mechanism for this.
  • Concerns were raised about Positive Behaviour Support, which some LEAP members thought was a form of Applied Behaviour Analysis.
  • Children, young people and their families should be educated on the rights to education.

Where we want to get to

  • An education system that ensures all children and young people have the same opportunity to thrive and succeed, including those who are neurodivergent or have learning disabilities.
  • An education system that is comprised of teachers, practitioners and other educators who are confident and well trained to educate neurodivergent children and young people, and children and young people with learning disabilities.

What happens now?

Various policies and legislation aim to provide access to and accountability for children and young peoples’ rights to education.

Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs)

A CSP is a statutory plan and is intended to co-ordinate support between education and other agencies for children and young people with significant multiple and complex needs. It is not intended to provide support for the majority of children and young people. The ASL framework also utilises Individualised Educational Programmes and Child’s Plans as part of the planning process to meet children and young people’s needs, as discussed in the following paragraphs.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (“the ASL Act”) and Code of Practice

The ASL Act[322] provides the legislative framework for identifying and addressing the additional support needs of children and young people who face a barrier, or barriers, to learning. It gives them, and their parents and carers, a number of rights and it places duties o local authorities in the exercise of their education functions.

This includes rights to: ask for ASN to be assessed and planned for; placing requests in respect of children and young people with ASN; advice and information about their or their child’s ASN; be part of discussions about decisions being made on ASN; access dispute resolution procedures, including mediation; be informed about the outcome of requests under the Act and the reasons; have decisions reviewed; request a CSP or review of an existing plan; have views noted in a CSP; and, access redress through the First-tier Tribunal Health and Education Chamber (“the Additional Support Needs Tribunal”). There are also statutory rights to advocacy and other support services.

There are duties placed on education authorities including that they must: make adequate and efficient provision for ASN and to identify ASN; in certain circumstances, provide additional support to children under school age who have been identified as having ASN; provide parents of children with ASN with certain information; provide a CSP to those children and young people who need one; and, provide independent and free mediation services, and arrangements for resolving disputes.

There is also statutory guidance, in the form of a Code of practice.[323] The Code explains the duties on education authorities and other agencies to support children and young people’s learning who have ASN. Education authorities and agencies must have regard to the Code. Relevant authorities include local authorities and health boards, Skills Development Scotland, all colleges of further education and all institutions of higher education in Scotland. Those authorities must ensure that their policies, practices, and information and advice services take full account of the legal requirements of the ASL Act.

Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils’ Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 (“the 2002 Act”)

Under the 2002 Act, education authorities have duties to develop and publish accessibility strategies to: increase pupils’ access to the curriculum; increase access to the physical environment of schools; and, improve communication with pupils with disabilities.


Local Authorities are responsible for managing their budgets and allocating the total financial resources available to them, including in relation to education. Local Authorities manage this based on local needs and priorities, having first fulfilled their statutory obligations and the jointly agreed set of national and local priorities. The latest Local Authority finance returns indicate that spending on ASL reached a record high (in real terms) spend of £830m in 2021/22. This includes ASL spending within early learning and childcare, primary, secondary and special school sectors.

In addition, we have invested funding of £15m per year since 2019-20 to help Local Authorities respond to the individual needs of children and young people. We also provide over £11m each year to directly support pupils with complex ASN and fund services to support children and families.

Scotland’s Strategy for the learning provision for children and young People with complex additional support needs 2017-2026

This Strategy[324] outlines the long-term changes we are making to the way in which services are delivered in order to improve children and young peoples’ experience of education. The Strategy is focussed on children and young people with complex ASN being supported to learn in their local communities.

The 2023 National Improvement Framework and Improvement Plan (“the NIF”)

The 2023 NIF and improvement plan[325] sets out the vision and priorities for Scottish education that have been agreed across the system, and describes the national improvement activity that is currently, or will be, undertaken to help deliver those key priorities.

The Standards in Schools etc. Act 2000 (“the 2000 Act”)

The 2000 Act[326] and accompanying statutory guidance[327] makes provision about standards in Scotland’s schools. It does this primarily by setting out duties and rights in respect of education and a framework for improvement and raising standards.

Inclusive Education

A number of legislative provisions support inclusive education in Scotland, including:

  • Section 1 of the 2000 Act sets out that “it shall be the right of every child of school age to be provided with school education by, or by virtue of arrangements made, or entered into, by, an education authority.”;
  • Section 2 of the 2000 Act provides that it is the duty of an education authority to secure that education is directed to the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential. And, Section 2(2) provides that education authorities shall have due regard to the views of the child, so far as is reasonably practicable. This provision is reflective of aspects of Article 29 of the UNCRC, as discussed later in this section.
  • Section 15 of the 2000 Act provides the presumption that education is provided in mainstream schools;
  • As described above, the ASL Act sets out rights and duties relating to the provision of additional support for learning for those who are, or are likely to be, unable to benefit from school education without it. This framework supports the provision of education in mainstream schools wherever possible; and,
  • The Equality Act provides that reasonable adjustments must be made to remove or reduce a disadvantage relating to a person’s disability in the delivery of public services, including education.

Independent advocacy, advice and support

All children and young people have the right to be involved in decisions about the support they receive at school.

Section 14 of the ASL Act provides that where a child, young person, or their parent wishes to have an advocate then the education authority must comply with their wishes unless they are unreasonable. Section 14A of the ASL Act provides that the Scottish Ministers must secure the provision of an advocacy service to be available free of charge, in respect of proceedings before the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

My Rights My Say[328] is a childrens’ service supporting children aged 12-15 to exercise their rights under the ASL Act. They provide advice and information, advocacy support, legal representation and a service to independently seek childrens’ views about the support they receive with their learning.

Reach[329] is a website dedicated to children and young people aiming to help them feel supported, included, listened to and involved in decisions at school. It has information and advice for pupils about their rights to; practical tips for all sorts of school problems; young people’s real life stories; and positive examples of pupil participation.

ENQUIRE[330] is the national advice and information service on additional support for learning for families, teachers, practitioners, education authorities and others caring for or working with children and young people with additional support needs. They operate a telephone helpline and publish resources on their website.

Let’s Talk ASN[331] is the national advocacy and legal representation service supporting parents, carers and young people (16+) with a right of reference to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal in exercising their rights.

Teacher workforce training

Initial Teacher Education

The Standard for Provisional Registration (SPR),[332] is the benchmark of competence required of all student teachers at the end of their initial teacher education (ITE) who are seeking provisional registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). The SPR was updated in 2021 and sets out the professional knowledge and understanding that student teachers are required to demonstrate, including additional support needs. This covers learning on neurodivergence and learning disabilities.

The GTCS’s Guidelines for Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Programmes in Scotland state that student teachers should be exposed to key areas such as additional support needs, including Autism, ADHD, ADD, and others.[333] These are the standards that universities offering courses in teaching must meet in order to be accredited by the GTCS to provide ITE programmes.

A set of baseline materials for autism and neurodivergence was developed by ITE providers and stakeholders in 2019. These are used by all ITE providers and GTCS will only accredit programmes that have embedded these materials. For example, the GTCS Autism Guidance on Meeting the Needs of Autistic Learners.[334]

In April 2023, the Measuring Quality in Initial Teacher Education (MQuITE) report was published.[335] This was a six year, Scottish Government funded study which involved co-investigations from all 11 university providers of ITE along with the

GTCS. The project tracked ITE graduates over 5 years. Teaching students with ASN was highlighted as an area where more professional learning was needed.

Professional learning

The Scottish Universities Inclusion Group designed and published the National Framework for Inclusion which provides a tool for teachers at all stages of their career to reflect on their inclusive practice, in the context of the GTCS Professional Standards for Registration.[336] This was last updated in August 2022.

A range of free professional learning opportunities are currently available to all teachers, and other educational professionals, to understand their professional duties and support their knowledge, understanding and practice on ASN. Regional Improvement Collaboratives and local authorities also provide a range of context specific opportunities. Education Scotland’s Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equality Officers facilitate sessions, share information and signposting for ASN to the national NQT Stepping Stones professional learning programme and the Middle and Senior leadership programmes. Some examples of learning for all educational professionals include:

  • the Autism Toolbox;[337]
  • CIRCLE train the trainer – materials for Early Learning and Childcare, primary and secondary education;[338] and,
  • Education Scotland online modules based on CIRCLE and Autism Toolbox content.[339]

To ensure all educators can access free high quality support, Education Scotland has also recently published a new national Inclusion, Wellbeing and Equality Professional Learning Framework.[340] Some of these resources were specifically developed so that they can be used by universities that provide ITE.

Fully registered teachers can also gain registration in ASN if they hold an appropriate ASN qualification. Currently, over 700 teachers have GTCS registration in additional support needs.

ELC workforce training

The National Standard[341] for funded ELC sets out the quality criteria that all providers will be required to meet to deliver the funded entitlement to ELC. In line with ‘Criteria 6: Inclusion’, settings must comply with the duties under the Equality Act and so must not discriminate in offering a service. Duties under the Equality Act apply both to funded ELC and to privately purchased ELC.

Settings must also provide appropriate support, including making any reasonable changes to the care and learning environment, to ensure that children with ASN, including disabilities, do not face a barrier to them accessing a full range of experiences and meets their individual needs. In line with the National Standard, we expect local authorities and settings to work together to support children with ASN to access their funded ELC hours.

Supporting children with ASN has now been introduced as a standalone unit within the Scottish Qualification Authority’s (SQA) Next Generation Higher National Childhood Practice award pilot which is currently underway. Supporting children with ASN is also included in the pedagogy unit, with meta-skills embedded throughout the course, and a specific ASN meta-skills outcome is required. In addition, longer-term work led by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) to review the National Occupation Standards (underpinning the registerable qualifications for ELC practitioners), will scope existing ASN learning content to identify any gaps and inform change in this area.

Since 2020, we have funded a suite of continuous professional learning (CPL) modules for ELC practitioners including ‘Building confidence in identifying and responding to ASN’ and ‘Supporting the development and progression of children’s early language and literacy’. These resources are being embedded in the SSSC’s Open Badge learning scheme and will continue to be available free of charge.

In addition, the National Directory of CPL for ELC practitioners provides a range of further learning materials.[342]

GIRFEC and child’s plan

As noted in the introduction, GIRFEC[343] is our national approach to promoting, supporting and safeguarding the wellbeing of all children and young people, providing a consistent framework and shared language which puts their rights and wellbeing at the heart of the services that provide support to them and their families.

A personalised GIRFEC child’s plan is a non-statutory plan which should be considered when those working with a child or young person and their family identify that the child or young person needs a range of extra support beyond universal provision to be planned, delivered or co-ordinated. If accepted, the child’s plan should reflect the voice of the child or young person at every stage and include a clear explanation of why the plan has been created, the actions to be taken by everyone involved in the plan and the expected improvement for the child or young person.

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and Children’s Planning Services (“the 2014 Act”)

The 2014 Act[344] requires certain public authorities to report every three years on the steps taken to secure better or further effect of requirements under the UNCRC.

Children’s Services Planning is Scotland’s statutory partnership approach to planning and delivery of local services and support, with relevant duties set out in Part 3 of the 2014 Act and accompanying statutory guidance[345]. This aims to ensure a whole system approach is in place in each local area to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. Each Children’s Services Plan is based on a joint strategic needs assessment which is undertaken to identify the needs of all children, young people and families living in that area. This should consider the needs of specific groups, such as those affected by disability, complex health conditions, poverty, or care experience.

Children’s Services Planning duties require each local authority and health board to work collaboratively with local public and third sector partners to address national outcomes and local priorities, and meet the statutory aims of Children’s Services Planning to:

  • Safeguard, support, and promote the wellbeing of children, young people and families (the eight SHANARRI indicators)[346];
  • ensure action is taken at the earliest opportunity, and where appropriate, to prevent needs arising;
  • ensure support is experienced as joined-up from the point of view of children and families; and
  • constitute best use of available resources.

Each local authority and health board must publish a Children’s Services Plan (CSP) Annual Report to demonstrate what progress has been made together with partners in the public and third sector, to improve wellbeing outcomes for children, young people and families living in that area. Each CSP sets out how services, supports and improvement activity will be delivered over each 3-year period across a continuum which spans prevention, universal services, early intervention and targeted or intensive support. CSPs include the provision of ‘Children’s Services’ (for example, schools, health visiting, early learning & childcare, social work and

CAMHS) as well as ‘Related Services’. This includes adult services provided to parents/carers for, example, in relation to drug or alcohol use, mental health needs, disability or offending. It also includes community-based supports such as housing, welfare advisory services and recreation facilities.

The current cycle of planning runs from 2023-2026. We review CSPs and provide feedback to each CSP Partnership. We also publish a national report outlining key themes and areas of strength or for development. The most recent national report was published in July 2022.[347]

National Neurodevelopmental Specification for Children and Young People: Principles and Standards of Care

In September 2021, we published the National Neurodevelopmental Specification for Children and Young People: Principles and Standards of Care348 which sets out seven standards for service providers to ensure that children and young people who have neurodevelopmental profiles receive support that better meets their needs.

The Specification aims to ensure that children and families receive support and access to services that meet their needs at the earliest opportunity, based on the GIRFEC approach. This includes education services. For many children and young people such support is likely to be community based and should be quickly and easily accessible.

The Specification makes clear that support should be put in place to meet the child or young person’s requirements when they need it, rather than be dependent on a formal diagnosis.

What can we do about it?

We are committed to Scotland being the best place in the world for a child to grow up. The National Outcome for children and young people is that “Children grow up loved, safe and respected, so that they realise their full potential”.[349] As part of this, we are committed to improving the education experience and outcomes for all children and young people, including those with learning disabilities or who are neurodivergent. We are taking forward several pieces of work to improve experiences and outcomes, as follows.

Additional Support for Learning Review Action Plan

In response to the Morgan Review,[350] we published the joint ASL Review Action Plan with COSLA and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES).[351] The Action Plan sets out the various activities we have committed to carry out to implement the Review’s recommendations.

To ensure that meaningful change is realised we have also established the ASL Project Board to oversee delivery of the Action Plan and associated workstreams. The Scottish Government, COSLA and ADES have joint responsibility of the Board. Membership includes representatives from: local government, third sector, parent groups, unions and children’s groups. [352] The Action Plan is under regular scrutiny by the Board to ensure delivery of the recommendations.

Since the Action Plan was first published significant progress has been made in a number of key areas, as reflected in the most recent joint progress report published in November 2022.[353] We continue to work closely with partners to deliver the remaining actions and the next update will be published in Spring 2024.

Co-ordinated support plans

In the ASL Review Action Plan,[354] we committed to refreshing the Supporting Children’s Learning Code of Practice,[355] to ensure that it fully supports schools and local authorities to fulfil their duties under the ASL Act.

The Code already provides advice on the relationship between statutory CSPs and non-statutory plans, including the Child’s plan. The refresh will take account of the update of the GIRFEC Policy and Practice Guidance as well as seek to align and further clarify the relationship between plans. This work will help improve the support available for all children and young people who face barriers to their learning.

Qualifications and Assessments

The Independent Review of Qualifications and Assessment reported in June this year.[356] The Review’s aim was to ensure that all pupils in the Senior Phase (in school and college) have an enhanced and equal opportunity to demonstrate the breadth, depth and relevance of their learning. The Review specifically considered pupils who have ASN, including pupils with learning disabilities and neurodivergent pupils.

Recommendations in the final report centre around the introduction of a Scottish Diploma of Achievement (SDA) with three mandatory elements: Personal Pathway, Programmes of Learning and Project learning.

The recommendations, if implemented, would represent very significant change, and must be considered carefully and as part of the broader suite of reform to education and skills. We are taking forward detailed examination of the proposals, ensuring the Scottish Parliament and others across the system have the opportunity to engage with and shape our response. The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills has committed to return to Parliament to fully debate the proposals in early 2024.

International Human Rights

UNCRC Article 28 recognises that children and young people have the right to education on the basis of equal opportunity. This includes both primary and secondary education and includes the option of technical or vocational training.

Article 29 sets out that a child or young person’s education should help the development of their personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential. It should also build their respect for human rights, their parents and their own cultural identity, language and values as well as the national values of their country, and respect for others and the natural environment.

Under Article 12 of the UNCRC, every child and young person who is capable of forming their own views has the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting them, with those views being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child and young person.

The Scottish Ministers have already provided non-statutory guidance to public authorities on giving effect to the UNCRC.[357]

Article 24 of the CRPD recognises the rights of disabled people to education on an equal basis with others and requires State parties to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.

As noted in the introduction we are progressing a Human Rights Bill for Scotland as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill, to incorporate a wide range of internationally recognised human rights belonging to everyone in Scotland into Scots law, within the limits of devolved competence.

What can the LDAN Bill do?

As discussed in earlier paragraphs, existing ASN legislation was independently reviewed in 2020 and was not found to be deficient. Rather, there was found to be a gap between the policy intention of the legislation and its implementation. Since then, a comprehensive ASL Review Action Plan has, and is currently being, progressed in line with the Morgan Review recommendations. This work is being done in partnership with COSLA and the ADES and includes scrutiny and oversight by third sector organisations, parent groups, unions and children’s groups.

Whilst there is a comprehensive and robust action plan in place to address the implementation gap, the following proposals could potentially be explored in relation to the Bill:

Proposal 1: Strategies and reporting requirements

The 2000 Act imposes duties on education authorities and schools to plan and report annually on the measures that they are taking to address the key priorities of the NIF. The statutory guidance to support these legislative duties is currently being reviewed. [358] We could consider whether to create a new requirement for education authorities and schools to include in their plans and reports an articulation of how the specific needs of neurodivergent pupils and pupils with learning disabilities have been considered and are being met. This would avoid adding to the existing planning and reporting requirements which exist.

Previous paragraphs in this section set out that there is duty on each local authority and health board to publish a Children’s Services Plan Annual Report which demonstrates what progress has been made to improve wellbeing outcomes for children, young people and families living in that area. We could also consider whether to require that these Annual Reports should include specific consideration of neurodivergent children and young people and children and young people with learning disabilities.

Proposal 2: Mandatory training for teachers, practitioners and other educators

As discussed in earlier paragraphs the Standard for Provisional Registration was updated in 2021, following the Morgan Review, and sets out the professional knowledge and understanding that student teachers are required to demonstrate including on learning theories in ASN. This includes neurodivergence and learning disabilities. And, in relation to ELC, a new SQA award is being piloted which has focussed units and outcomes on ASN.

There are also a range of free professional learning opportunities available to teachers, practitioners and other educators. However, these are currently optional which has the potential to lead to inconsistencies and variation in practice. We do not have data on how prevalent the uptake is.

We have set out proposals in the overarching themes section of this consultation for a mandatory training requirement for health and social care staff, and are seeking views on whether this should extended to other public sector areas. Therefore, we could explore:

(a) whether there is a need to set out anything in legislation regarding the training requirements for student teachers, given the recently updated Standard for Provisional Registration;

(b) whether there is a need to set out anything in legislation regarding the training requirements for student ELC practitioners; and,

(c) whether there is a need for a mandatory training requirement for teachers, practitioners and other educators on learning disabilities and neurodivergence as part of their CPD.

Proposal 3: Data

The overarching themes section of this consultation sets out broad proposals relating to data and invites views.

Current ASN data reflects that children and young people have a wide ranging spectrum of learning needs.[359] Within this, there is disaggregated data available on some conditions but not others. For example, there is disaggregated data available on learning disabilities, autism and dyslexia but it isn’t available on ADHD, FASD, Dyscalculia and other neurodivergent conditions.

To better understand all neurodivergent children and young people and their experiences and outcomes in relation to education this data could be collected and published. This would allow for reporting on the attainment gap of these groups, school leavers and positive destinations, and to understand the size of these populations and any trends. There may also be a need for data on the use of part- time timetables.

What Do You Think?

  • Which of these proposals do you agree with (if any), please tell us why?
  • Which of these proposals do you not agree with (if any), please tell us why?
  • Is there anything else that we should consider in relation to this topic?


Email: LDAN.Bill@gov.scot

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