Just Support For Learning?

December’s Children in Scotland magazine contains an article I have written about this being a good time to consider if current support for learning practices are actually achieving what we want them to. You can read the article here Just Support For Learning.  I would be interested to learn your thoughts on the issues it raises.

 The  December Children in Scotland   magazine has a focus on protecting children’s services in tough times. (There may be a small charge to access the whole magazine – but you can read my article for free).

Liz Herd

Additional Support for Learning Act 2009

The Scottish Government announces that the rights of children with additional education support needs will be strengthened on Sunday (November 14) when the Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act 2009 comes into force.

It will ensure that children and young people with additional support needs and their parents can make out of the area placing requests for specific schools and receive mediation and dispute resolution help following such requests. It will also increase parents’ access to the Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland (ASNTS) if a placing request is refused.

National Advocacy Service launched

Support for young people

The creation of a new additional support needs national advocacy service was announced today.

Barnardo’s Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Child Law Centre have been awarded the contract to provide free lay and legal advice to families and young people who appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland (ASNTS) against education authorities’ decisions regarding the provision of educational support, such as out of area placing requests.

New help for teachers on dealing with epilepsy in the classroom

The Scotsman reports: 

“People see you differently,” says 15-year-old Beth Mackie. “The teachers who were there when it happened said it was really scary and they didn’t know what to do.

“I had a seizure in the hall and my teachers really panicked. It was chaos when I came round. The first time I woke up, I didn’t know what happened and there were people running around, people shouting.

An early guide to the condition was paid for by the then Scottish Executive in 2004 and later revised in line with the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act 2004.

About 2,800 copies of the latest guide have gone to every primary and secondary in Scotland, and requests have been made for another 1,200 copies, including one from an epilepsy specialist nurse in Northern Ireland.


Scotland’s additional support helpline is a model for the UK

Children in Scotland reports that a telephone helpline for England and Wales along the lines of Scotland’s well-established information service for additional support for learning is one of the recommendations made to the Department for Children, Schools and Families in the Lamb Inquiry.

The findings from the Inquiry, set up in 2008 to advise on effective ways to increase parental confidence in the assessment process for children and young people with special educational needs, were published this week.

Scotland’s advisory service for additional support for learning – Enquire – has operated a telephone helpline for 10 years to inform and empower children, young people and their families on all areas related to additional support needs. During the consultation process Chair of the Inquiry Brian Lamb met with Children in Scotland, who manage Enquire on behalf of the Scottish Government.


Some more equal …

The Outreach Team had an interesting day recently looking at the new Curriculum for Excellence outcomes and experiences for Literacy and English and Health and Well Being.

One of the outcomes under the Responsible Citizens heading started a lively debate which raised the whole issue of inclusion and equality:

I can evaluate environmental, scientific and technological issues.

We discussed case studies of students with English as an additional language (including those who use British Sign Language) and wondered if such an evaluation carried out in English would be fair to them. Surely if it is their knowledge and understanding of, say Biology, that is being assessed, then a full answer in their native tongue would be a truer representation than one done in a second language.

If this does not happen, pupils who use English as an additional language are not fully included in Curriculum for Excellence until they are proficient in written English. We decided that their abilities in their own language must be acknowledged; just as learners with dyslexia are entitled to have poor spelling overlooked if the content is understood.

This of course raises enormous issues about availability of translators, apart from the more deep seated issue about a right to be included.

Thanks to Janet Storey for the fascinating lead on this discussion.

MSPs support greater rights for children

The Scotsman reports that laws giving greater rights to children needing additional support in school have been backed by MSPs.
The Scottish Parliament has voted unanimously for the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill which allows parents to make placement requests for their children outwith the local area. It also gives parents the right to appeal against any refusal.  Children’s minister Adam Ingram said the bill will “fix deficiencies” in legislation from 2004 and “strengthen the rights” of children with additional support needs and their parents.