The ninth, and final, theme within the ASL Review is “Assurance mechanism and inspection” – which sounds dull, but it extremely important. After all, there is little point in having a review and publishing a report filled with recommendations if no-one is making sure that those recommendations are actually being put into practice and making a difference for children with additional support needs.
The review notes the concerns of many children, young people and families that “their views and feelings are not sufficiently listened to and taken into account at any level, from their own support planning to service changes.”
Similarly, professionals working in education also felt frustrated at their inability to influence service changes. So, if individual parents, pupils and professionals felt powerless to effect change, where will that change come from? The review has some ideas.
- Education authority assurance processes and mechanisms can be reviewed and made stronger, leading to “an improvement mind-set, including a non-punitive culture of learning from mistakes and failures”. I think we could all do with getting better at this!
- Education Scotland’s assessment framework for school inspections, “How Good Is Our School?” (4th edition) – or HGIOS4, for short – is seen as a useful way of understanding key issues around additional support for learning. However, it focuses too much on attainment. It is important that Inspectors have “experience and understanding of the ethos and practice of inclusion and Additional Support for Learning”.
- In the same context, Education Scotland’s “Milestones to support learners with complex additional support needs” (2017) has been well received and ties in well with the Review’s earlier comments and recommendations on recognising and measuring (and celebrating) achievement.
- The Review notes “a need and opportunity for the Regional Improvement Collaboratives (RICs) to incorporate additional support for learning into their agenda” – assisted and supported by Education Scotland.
- A mechanism for tracking progress against the Review’s recommendations should be developed in partnership with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group. A progress report should be published one year after the publication of the Review. Scottish Government have committed to the first progress report one year after the publication of the Scottish Government / COSLA response to the Review, i.e. October 2021.
- Education authorities should take account of the report in reviewing their internal quality assurance processes – in order to drive improvements in process, practice and outcomes “at all levels in the system”.
- Education Scotland should also take account of the Review’s findings and make sure that their own “scrutiny frameworks and inspection activities” are in line with them.
- Education Scotland must use the Review to support and develop improvement in schools, education authorities and regional improvement collaboratives.