By Dougie Atkinson, Senior Professional Officer (Scotland)
I attended the Scottish Government Additional Support Needs Summit at Murrayfield stadium on 1 October 2019.
Bringing together over 300 stakeholders from local authorities, government agencies, trade unions and third sector interests, this was the first gathering of its type specifically looking strategically at how Scotland’s additional support systems work at school and local authority levels.
There were a number of workshops during the day:
1. Families + Schools = Partners – Cat Thomson and Harriet Grant of- Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning, shared learning from 20 years of listening to and working with parents and carers of children.
2. Dyslexia Mission Superpower! Paul McNeill, Head of Community Development at Scottish Football Association, and Rossie Stone, founder of Dekko Comics - on Dyslexia Scotland Ambassadors outreach programme – empowering P4-7 pupils to overcome their learning challenges with the help of cartoon superheroes.
3. Unveiling the myths around the co-ordinated support plan (CSP) – Mrs May Dunsmuir, Chamber President, Health and Education Chamber (HEC) of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland, explained the statutory route to a CSP and the rights of children, young people and parents.
4. Wider effective planning with Dorothy Henderson, Perth and Kinross Council. This session provided opportunity to discuss and share with colleagues how we ensure high quality planning which takes account of the legislative and policy framework.
5. Senior Phase for Children with Complex ASN: measuring what we value with Jennifer King, ADES. This session looked at opportunities and challenges in designing and delivering a senior phase for young people with complex additional support needs in both mainstream and special schools.
6. My Rights, My Say: Supporting local authorities to fulfil children’s legal rights with Emma Rogan of (Children in Scotland) and Pauline Cavanagh of (Partners in Advocacy). This interactive session gave participants an understanding of children’s rights regarding additional support for learning in the law and how My Rights, My Say can support local authorities to fulfil their legal duties.
7. Autism and Inclusive Practice with Fran Ranaldi, Education Scotland aimed to provide an overview of inclusive approaches and resources, including the refreshed 2019 Autism Toolbox.
8. ‘The creative and personalised curriculum’ with Janine McCulloch, Education Scotland, was on how to create a curriculum to suit all your learners including those with additional support needs.
9. How the Compassionate and Connected Classroom builds resilience – Gail Nowek, Depute Principal Psychologist, North Ayrshire Educational Psychology Service, on a professional learning and curricular resource to support children and young people’s needs.
10. Looked After Children and Additional Support Needs focused on looked after children with ASN.
11. Supporting our Hidden Children – Sean Curran: National Development Officer Gypsy/Traveller Education. This practical workshop focused on engaging school age children from the gypsy/travelling community with a broad relevance to ‘hard to reach’ families.
12. Creatively addressing additional support needs in remote and rural areas with Roslyn Redpath, Principal Educational Psychologist. This session detailed the challenges that arise when supporting children and young people within remote and rural areas.
13. South Ayrshire ASN Family Forum. Presented by Karen Miller, South Ayrshire Council, the workshop outlined the journey of South Ayrshire so far and its next steps. Participants heard from parents who have been involved about the impact it has had on them, their family and the wider community.
These discussion groups allowed delegates to drill down into challenges and successful examples of good practice and consider how the system can best meet the requirements of Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) which supports families by making sure children and young people can receive the right help, at the right time, from the right people.
Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney gave the keynote speech and there were useful contributions from local authority and Education Scotland speakers.
The learning from the day will be summarised and shared with practitioners in due course.