The right help at the right time in the right place: strategy for the learning provision for children and young people with complex additional support needs 2017-2026

This ten year strategy sits within the context of our other policies and strategies to improve the learning outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs living in Scotland.

10 Year Strategy - First Phase

In light of the responses to the consultation and in keeping with the pathfinder approach advocated in the strategy and welcomed by the respondents, the first phase of implementation will focus on the undernoted areas:

Service Leadership

Leaders at all levels and in all relevant services should evidence on-going professional learning and practice commensurate with their areas of practice and responsibility.

Education Services

This objective will be supported by the development of appropriately differentiated pathways within the leadership development programmes already established within Education Scotland and SCEL Frameworks and reflect collaborative working with Universities and GTCS.

The writing and pilot delivery of these programmes will be commissioned over 2020-2023.  Participation in the writing, delivery and involvement in the initial programme will reflect input by senior managers and across all levels  and sectors, working collaboratively.  Initial and on-going funding to support participation in the programmes will be supported by the Scottish Government through the commissioning process.

As with the expectation on local authorities, providers will be expected to have a rigorous self-evaluation process which monitors the impact of school and service leadership on achieving the optimum outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs. Evidence should reflect collaboration at a senior level with colleagues in the other key services

Internal self-evaluation will be complemented by independent research.

By 2026 there should be a well-established national leadership programme at post-graduate level, which addresses the requirements of effective leadership in the context of schools and services for children and young people with complex additional support needs.

 Practitioner Professionalism 

 To support the objectives in the National Improvement Framework the strategy proposes:

  • The development of relevant professional learning opportunities at post graduate level for teachers addressing complex additional support needs including, as appropriate, study at Master Level.  As with the school leadership programmes they will be developed and trialled on a collaborative basis between school and service staff and providers.  Such an approach would meet the expectation within an evolutionary Masters Programme.  As with the Leadership programme it would have essential elements of multi-professional collaboration.
  • Profiling on a 5 year basis the range of professional learning being undertaken by teachers in both independent and local authority managed provision to address complex additional support needs.  In keeping with Teaching Scotland’s Future and GTCS Professional Update this would include a range of CPD activity, including opportunities at establishment or service level as well as post graduate study.  This information would be gathered through the Professional Update process but would not compromise the confidentiality of individual practitioners.

The Independent Panel on Career Pathways has now reported[12] to the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT), and includes a number of recommendations that may have an influence for the career development and professional learning of teachers involved in additional support needs.  Specifically recommendations 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7.

These recommendations were presented to the SNCT with a timescale for agreeing an implementation plan by August 2020.  In addition the refresh of the GTCS Professional Standards in ongoing and being taken forward in parallel with the empowering schools and career pathways work to ensure appropriate coherence.

The NSCG recognise that Practitioner Professionalism, in the context of the lived experience of children and young people with complex additional support needs and the team around the child, involves a range of professionals across education, health and social care.  The NSCG will explore how learning and development are used to ensure knowledgeable and skilled staff who are enabled to support positive outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs.  This will include establishing what partnerships exist to support improved outcomes for children and young people, and how they contribute.  Partnerships include with mainstream and special schools, other local authority and children’s services, third sector and health and social care partners, independent and grant-aided special schools and regional improvement collaboratives.  Through this work the NSCG will look to identify opportunities to support practitioner professionalism for all staff working with children and young people with complex additional support needs.  

 Parental Engagement

We understand that it is parents who are the primary educator of their children and that working to support the central role of the family, in whatever form that may take, is vital to improving the education and life chances of our children and young people.

In August 2018 the Scottish Government published the ‘Learning Together’ National Action Plan[13] on parental involvement, parental engagement, family learning and learning at home.  The plan, based on the guiding aim of getting it right for every child, sets out a vision for parental involvement and engagement for the next three years.  It covers the journey that a child takes from pre-birth to age 18.  It takes account of the national and international evidence base as well as policy and practice expertise across the Scottish education system.  It contains 13 goals and 52 national actions.

The plan contains specific actions targeted at parents of children with complex needs and contains specific commitments to:

  • Consult on a new resource – Supporting Disabled Children, Young People and their Families[14] – from April 2018 with direct relevance to education, schools and early learning and childcare settings.  This will highlight good practice and share information on Rights and Information; Accessibility of Support, and Transitions.
  • Work with parent organisations to monitor, review and develop all national policy in relation to Additional Support for Learning (ASL) through its Advisory Group for ASL.
  • Promote the National Parent Forum’s ‘Nutshell’ briefing on additional support for learning via a wide range of communication channels.

We also recognise that Parents have a statutory right to be involved in all key decisions made about their children’s education through the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006.  The act places a specific duty on local authorities to consider how their parental involvement strategies make provision for parents of children with complex additional support needs.  As such we will ensure that specific guidance in relation to parents of children with additional support needs is included in refreshed statutory guidance which will be published in the 2019/20 school term.

Given that many of the children and young people who attend specialist schools in the independent sector are looked after and accommodated by the home education authority, the strategy underlines the comprehensive definition of parent to include carer and corporate parent.

By 2026 there should be clear evidence of strong partnership working between providers and parents which underpins the achievement of educational outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs.

We will look for opportunities to build on the work of the 2017 The Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (The "Alliance) report into the transitions experiences of disabled young people and their families and the Scottish Government guidance[15] on supporting disabled children, young people and their families.  The strategy proposes initial action research over 2020-2022 into the key themes of all transitions throughout a child and young persons’ journey to determine the current strengths and challenges which characterise current practice and how each key partner can maximize their contribution.

Assessment of Children’s Progress

To support the statement in the National Improvement Framework, “Progress in learning for children with significant additional support needs will be evaluated at an individual level, through agreed plans and next steps, which will be personalised” the strategy proposes:

  • Supporting the trialling of a range of assessment models developed specifically to provide frameworks for schools and services to support the assessment process for children and young people with complex additional support needs and evaluate their effectiveness;
  • The trial to be funded over two school sessions 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 and to include the full range of complex additional support needs in both the independent sector and local authority managed provision; and
  • This action research will complement activity linked to research into transition and positive destinations and will reflect collaborative contributions from all the key agencies.

The strategy recognises that progress in learning of many children and learners with complex additional support is evaluated using collective methods and tools such as the Scottish National Standardised Assessments, and that these and other assessment resources must be accessible for learners with additional support needs.

Service Improvement 

In relation to the key theme of direct education care and health, the strategy proposes an initial focus on the quality and impact of the partnerships that are in place to support children and young people with complex additional support needs to allow them to engage as fully as possible in education.

  • Action research be commissioned to identify the factors which empower productive inter-agency collaboration and positive outcomes for children and young people with complex additional support needs; and
  • The research to look at both at collaboration between education, care and health staff within a localised setting and also the wider local authority scene (Education and Social Work Services).

We will look for opportunities to harness the contribution that the enhanced early learning and childcare[16] (ELC) offer can make for children with complex additional support needs before they start school.  The expansion of funded ELC from 600 to 1140 hours for all children from August 2020 and the earlier ELC offer for eligible two-year-olds has the potential to transform outcomes for children with complex needs in the early years.

Performance Information

Performance information would also underline the expectation that proposed areas for funding will be expected to inform practice and improved understanding around the breadth and depth of need in relation to children and young people with complex additional support needs.

All of the above are set against the current international and national legislative frameworks, and national and local authority policies which seek to protect and promote the rights of every child. Education Scotland and the Care Inspectorate have key responsibilities in these areas.

By 2026 the National Strategic Commissioning Group will by then have become a trusted, well informed and authoritative voice leading stakeholders toward a consensus around these aspirations, the aspirations of the key drivers.



Back to top