Continuing our consideration of the ASL Review Report, the main section of the report begins with “Theme 1: Vision and visibility”. This covers two big issues. One is that there is no defining national agenda or narrative in relation to additional support needs, demonstrated perhaps by their absence from the National Improvement Framework. The second is that the term “additional support needs” continues to be misunderstood and misinterpreted, with the result that particular groups of children and young people who are covered by the law missing out on their rights in practice.
The document is called “Education Scotland: Our Recovery Year 2020/21” which does sound like they are struggling with addiction or something. To educational jargon perhaps?
It is a relatively short and easy to read document, which recognises that the pandemic has had “huge implications for the education system”. They propose therefore to “lead and support the [education] system during a ‘recovery year’ up to June 2021”.
While noting the changed context, there are some things which remain constant, including the commitment to Education Scotland’s four values (which I had not heard of before): integrity, respect, excellence and creativity. I might quibble over whether “excellence” is really a value, but there we are…
There is clearly some concern that we are not out of the woods yet, and so one of the aims is to “increase the system’s resilience to continue to support learning in the event of any future national or local lockdowns.” and one of the ES outcomes listed is that the “education system is responsive and able to move into / out of lockdown smoothly if / as required.”.
To free up capacity, the school inspection programme remains “on hold” though “targeted and risk based inspections” will be carried out as required.
This is a corporate plan document, so it’s fairly high level stuff, and perhaps not wholly surprising to see no mention of the particular impact on pupils with additional support needs – though there is a recognition in the introduction that “the impact of COVID-19 has not been felt equally .. for our different groups of learners”.
As promised, and following a delay (for which I apologise), I finally turn my attention to the independent review of the implementation of Additional Support for Learning legislation in Scotland. The review was chaired by Angela Morgan, and the report, titled “Support for Learning: All our Children and All their Potential” was published in June 2020. A formal response from Scottish Government and COSLA is expected in the Autumn.
There has not been much in the way of commentary on the review, with this interesting article by Alison Brown being a rare example.
I plan to take the same approach as I did with the mainstreaming guidance, which is to consider the report in shorter chunks. This keeps things manageable for me, and allows for a more in-depth analysis of each section. As always, my focus is on the legal implications.