Review of additional support for learning implementation: report

Report from an independent review of the implementation of the additional support for learning legislation which began in September 2019 and concluded with the submission of this report and recommendations to Scottish Ministers and COSLA. Executive summary:, Young people’s version:

Introduction from the Independent Chair, Angela Morgan

At some time in our lives, most of us have had the experience of being outside – or despite being inside- a public service or system and feeling vulnerable and ill equipped to navigate it. A family member health crisis for example.

Those recollections from my own life have been strongly in my mind throughout this Review process.
I believe strongly that the question "What would I want for the children and young people I love and care about?" should be considered by all of us involved in providing public services and making decisions for fellow citizens of our communities. It must be a benchmark for testing those decisions.

One of the striking aspects of this Review process has been how many people I have heard from who, having spoken to me from the perspective of their work roles with children and young people, have then told me about their experience as parents, or indeed vice versa. Similarly, many professionals concluded a conversation with the comment:

"I have a personal interest in this as my nephew/friend's son/neighbour's daughter…needs support and I know their experience has been…"

There is great potential in this shared level of emotional investment in children and young people who have additional support needs. It suggests we can strengthen communication and relationships, which are the fuel for making progress in complex areas of public service delivery.

Conversely, the challenge in addressing this issue lies in respecting this high emotional investment while applying the necessary rigor of analysis. Drawing valid conclusions and proposing potentially uncomfortable recommendations must be done with respect and sensitivity.

Scotland has ground breaking, rights widening legislation[1] for children who face additional barriers to learning and to fulfilling their potential. The most recent statistics tell us that these children comprise 30.9% of our school age population.[2]

However, this issue is of vital importance to all of us, not only those 30.9%.

How all our children and young people experience their schools and communities matters. Showing that people who are different to them are valued, respected and included, shapes the beliefs and attitudes, which will underpin their own contribution as adults to our communities and wider Scottish society.

Most importantly, a promise has been made to children and young people who, due to a range of barriers, need help to flourish and fulfil their potential. They are also the children and young people who are most likely to struggle to have their voices heard.

In the actions that follow this Review, and for the range of stakeholders involved in their delivery, the focus must remain on the children and young people who are at the heart of this legislation.

Scotland's commitment to incorporation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child[3] in 2021 means that is a central requirement, not an option.

This report refers throughout to children and young people. This should be understood as those who have additional support needs as set out under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004.[4]



Back to top