#IncludED in the Main?! What next?

Date: 24th January 2017
Category: Disabled children

More than 800 young people who have learning disabilities, parents, and teachers tell us about life at school for young people who have learning disabilities.

#IncludED in the Main?! shows that genuine inclusion is still far from a reality for many young people who have learning disabilities. Too many are still excluded: from classroom and curriculum, by friends and peers, and from opportunities that make up the whole spectrum of school life.

A snapshot of report shows:

  • 80% of the education workforce says we are not getting it right for every child.
  • 98% say that initial teacher training does not prepare them for teaching young people who have additional support for learning needs, including learning disability
  • 62% of class/subject teachers said they've experienced stress and professional anxiety due to the thought of not having the right support to meet the needs of children and young people who have a learning disability
  • 60% of young people who have a learning disability told ENABLE Scotland they feel lonely at school, with 62.5% saying people do not understand them
  • 67% of them have been bullied.
  • 46% said they don't get the same chances to take part in games in the playground as everyone else, with 23% not getting to go on school trips
  • 40% of parents/carers said their child had been informally excluded from school, with 19% saying this was happening on a weekly basis.

Now Enable Scotland's report calls on the Scottish Government to lead on "systemic change" of the education system, laying out the next 22 steps on the journey to inclusion, based on the 800 detailed responses to its seven-month national conversation.

These include:

  • Supporting the current policy with a proper framework for Scotland to work within that really includes pupils who have learning disabilities.
  • Urgent action on visibility and accountability through the Schools Inspection system on the use of 'informal exclusions', whereby young people are being denied an education, and their lack of access to school trips or other activities.
  • Better support for teachers including modules on supporting young people who have learning disabilities to be included in Initial Teacher Education and Headship programmes, as well as new CPD courses on learning disability.
  • The setting up of a commission, led by the Scottish Government and COSLA, on the role of classroom assistants, whose numbers have been reduced in recent years.
  • Calling on all schools to embed conversations about learning disability into the curriculum.

Jan Savage, ENABLE Scotland, Executive Director, Campaigns and External Affairs, said: "It's time to talk about the elephant in the room and confirm what most teachers, parents and children have said privately for a very long time. The presumption to mainstream policy was designed to deliver inclusion - it hasn't. It has resulted in more children being educated in the same classroom, which is an important first step. But 16 years on, we can also now see that it has taken specialist expertise out of the Scottish education system, and left young people who have learning disabilities side lined. Pupils have told us that they feel bullied, isolated and excluded. Parents have told us they feel frustration that the system is not working. And, importantly, teachers feel untrained, unsupported, and stressed. 800 people have spoken to ENABLE Scotland about how they feel. It's time to listen, take stock, and then act to ensure that we are getting it right for every child, in every classroom, in Scotland."