Teaching event to focus on pupils with additional support needs

The education of young people with additional support needs (ASN) is the focus of a teachers’ conference taking place in the capital.

Teachers attending the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) event in Edinburgh on Saturday are expected to hear that having sufficient resources is key to good ASN provision in schools.

The event will be chaired by EIS president Alison Thornton and will feature a keynote presentation by Professor Lani Florian, the Bell Chair of Education at Moray House School of Education at Edinburgh University.

It coincides with the publication of an EIS guidance document on ASN.

In it, the union’s general secretary Larry Flanagan writes: “The topic of Additional Support for Learning (ASL) has been the subject of intense scrutiny in Scotland in recent years.

“This scrutiny is likely to be sustained, and perhaps to intensify, as the complexity of needs among the learning population grows, against a backdrop of under-invested public services struggling to meet the array of needs in every classroom.

School pupils
School pupils

“There is a well evidenced gap between theories of inclusion, the law on children’s rights, and daily practice in our schools; a gap which stems from massive under provision of the sources of support children require.”

The event comes after analysis last month indicated the number of pupils with ASN has soared in the past six years, while funding and the number of specialist teachers has fallen.

The Scottish Children Services Coalition analysed the annual Scottish Government Pupil Census and found large increases in most categories of pupils requiring additional support.

Speaking ahead of the conference, Ms Thornton said: “Ensuring adequate provision of education for young people with additional support needs is one of the most frequently cited concerns by teachers across the country.

“The EIS remains absolutely committed to the principle of inclusive education, and to the policy of educating young people with additional support needs in mainstream classes where this is the most appropriate environment for their learning.

“It is clear that where issues with ASN provision arise, these are most often associated with a lack of resources and specialist staff to support young people with additional support needs.

“It is the operation and resourcing of ASN policy that causes the most concern, not the principles that lie behind it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “All young people deserve the same opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential.

“We have recently published revised guidance on the presumption to mainstream education, alongside online resources for staff.

“This provides improved methods to assess needs and help young people, and signposts actions to further support inclusion, informed by the latest research.”