Centre Stage

Yesterday, the report by Prof. Ken Muir CBE “Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education” was published, alongside the Scottish Government’s response to the report and its recommendations. The recommendations are all either fully accepted, broadly accepted or accepted in principle.

The headlines, of course, are on what is to become of Scotland’s national agencies. In summary:

  • The Scottish Qualifications Authority is to be replaced by a new body with the same role, provisionally called “Qualifications Scotland” – which will have a governance structure which allows for more participation by pupils, teachers and other stakeholders. (I note that the URL “www.qualifications.scot” already redirects to the current SQA website)
  • There is to be a national agency for Scottish education, which will take on all of the current functions of Education Scotland (apart from the inspection functions), plus some other education bits and bobs (including the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Partnership).
  • There will be new Inspectorate body established, with its independence guaranteed in legislation.

Of course, my interest is in whether / where consideration of additional support needs fits into all of this. This blog post is not an in-depth analysis of the document, but rather a quick check on the points of intersection with the additional support for learning framework.

We get off to a positive start, as on p4 of the report it notes that the term “all learners” (which is used throughout) includes children and young people: “who speak different languages”; “who come from diverse ethnic backgrounds”; “who follow different faiths”; and “who require additional support needs”. We will overlook the clumsy wording for now (“require additional support” or “have additional support needs” would have been better) and applaud the intent.

At page 15, as part of a list of key principles, we get:

“Greater resourcing and attention placed on ensuring the needs of individual learners are met, including crucially those with additional support needs as set out in Angela Morgan’s report Support for Learning: All our Children and All their Potential (June 2020)”

Indeed, the ASL Review gets a number of mentions throughout this report, as does the Action Plan which followed it. You can find all of my blog posts relevant to the ASL Review by following this link.

Consultation responses on Curriculum for Excellence included the following gem:

The need to review what is meant by the capacity ‘responsible citizens’ to better ensure that all children and young people, including those, for example, with additional support needs, from denominational backgrounds, and from Gaelic and minority ethnic communities, are actively engaged in decisions which affect them.

Putting Learners at the Centre, p18

The report considers the role of Regional Improvement Collaboratives and notes an identified need to: “see more networking opportunities on themes such as subject specific support for secondary schools, supporting children and young people with additional support needs, and Gaelic Medium Education (GME).” (p.51)

One of the recommendations in relation to the SCQF is that Insight (an online tool) should be developed to reflect a wider variety of attainment and achievement – e.g. Saltire or Duke of Edinburgh. The report notes that this is in line with the ASL Review’s recommendations in relation to “creating equally valued alternative pathways and ways of measuring individual progress” (emphasis mine).

So, overall, additional support for learning is not exactly centre stage, but it has not been overlooked either. There are some concrete suggestions here and a welcome recognition of the need to tie the new agencies into the ASL Review process.

Image credit: https://pixabay.com/users/desertrose7-752536/

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