Theme 9: Assurance mechanism and inspection
The perspective of children, young people and their families has been emphasised throughout this report. Their input indicated that their views and feelings are not sufficiently listened to and taken into account at any level, from their own support planning to service changes.
Many frontline practitioners and service managers expressed similar frustrations in terms of being unable to influence service changes, which have significant impact on how they practice.
Also, the current limitations of measurement and tracking have been highlighted and noted with the recommendations.
The fundamental challenge that this Review was set up to examine, of closing the gap between policy intention and practice, requires assurance and scrutiny mechanisms to develop. They need to be the drivers of the visibility of, and improvement in, the learning achievements of all children and young people.
The recommendations on the areas highlighted below, will assist in the review and strengthening of education authority assurance processes and mechanisms in support of an improvement mind-set, including a non-punitive culture of learning from mistakes and failures.
Similarly, there is an opportunity to develop inspection and scrutiny processes as strengthened drivers of the improvements in Additional Support for Learning, which this Review has highlighted as necessary.
In terms of inspection, the Review has received consistent feedback that How Good is Our School (HGIOS) is a strong overall framework for understanding the key issues around Additional Support for Learning in the context of the four quadrants of the Inclusion Framework. However, in practice, the focus of HGIOS was felt too strongly to be on aspects of attainment, particularly literacy and numeracy.
The recently launched Milestones framework has been positively referred to (with the provisos around limited impact unless implementation and embedding processes are in place). The framework is seen as having the potential to support the rebalancing of focus and understanding of success across all four quadrants of the Inclusion Framework.
Practitioners also expressed a strong view about the importance of having inspectors who had experience and understanding of the ethos and practice of inclusion and Additional Support for Learning. This was seen to be a key issue in ensuring a balance of perspective across the four quadrants of the Inclusion Framework.
Education Scotland's wider practice development role is relevant, given the overlap between closing the attainment gap and needs and barriers to achievement due to additional support needs. It has been suggested that there is a need and opportunity for the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) to incorporate additional support for learning into their agenda and that Education Scotland could strengthen, and support, impact and improvement through that mechanism.
Recommendation 9.1 Assurance mechanism
- Following this Review, there must be a mechanism put in place to allow progress against these recommendations to be reported and scrutinised. This should be developed in partnership with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group. A progress report should be produced for Scottish Ministers and COSLA one year after the publication of this report and its recommendations.
- Local authorities must take account of the findings of this report to review and align their quality assurance processes. This must drive improvements in process, practice and outcomes at all levels in the system.
Recommendation 9.2 Education Scotland
- Education Scotland must take account of the findings of this report and take action to ensure that their scrutiny frameworks and inspection activities are in line with it.
- Education Scotland must use the findings of this Review and the conditions identified for good practice, to support and develop improvement in local authorities, regional improvement collaboratives and schools.
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