What did children and young people tell the Review
Children and young people want to be included in their schools and communities. They feel it is important that those working in schools are aware of additional support needs and sensitive to their individual needs. Schools should have a whole school approach to inclusion, respect children and young people's rights and support individuals to achieve their potential. This will be of benefit to all children and young people and can be achieved by talking with and listening to them. Children and young people told the Review that these things are important:
- Meaningful relationships between children and young people and staff are important for learning;
- A willingness to adapt teaching methods to children and young people's learning styles, needs, and varying pace and challenge, helps them to learn. Using technology can be really helpful here;
- School needs to be a safe place. Having a choice of calm, quiet or sensory areas' in all schools would help facilitate this. Children and young people should be able to choose when they want or need to access these spaces;
- All school staff need to have more knowledge and understanding of additional support needs so they can meet everyone's needs;
- Children and young people with additional support needs don't want to be underestimated for their ability and capability. Their additional support need should not define them;
- More understanding and empathy from peers would improve their learning experience;
- Timely responses to bullying were important for children and young people;
- Support for children and young people with additional support needs must be consistent. It should be available whenever people need it and all staff should make sure they support a child or young person in the same way. At present there are multiple examples of neither happening;
- Communication needs to improve. Primary and secondary schools need to talk to each other. There also needs to be more communication between schools, other organisations that provide support, and children and young people;
- Children and young people need to feel they have involvement in information sharing as part of decision making. Children and young people have their own views on what works for them and what kind of support they need; and
- Additional Support for Learning needs to be adequately funded to ensure everyone gets the support they need, when they need it.
Parental testimony and specialist organisations provided many examples of children and young people's views and experiences that reiterate and affirm these key points. A smaller number of contributions than hoped for were made directly by children and young people themselves with the support of their schools or other organisations. This highlights the need to strengthen support and structures for listening to their views and also reflects the conclusions on visibility and awareness noted under Theme 1: Vision and Visibility.
For this reason, my first recommendation is:
Overarching Recommendation: Children and Young People Participation
Children and young people must be listened to and involved in all decision making relating to additional support for learning. Co-creation and collaboration with children, young people and their families will support more coherent, inclusive and all-encompassing policy making, which improves implementation, impact and experience.