Renfrewshire Council

MEDIA RELEASE: Proposals seek to support more children to learn within their own community

Children with additional support needs will be better supported to learn in their community as part of an education review.

Renfrewshire Council is looking to deliver better education for all children and young people with additional support needs by making sure the resources they need are available locally.

Instead of children being transported to specialised bases outside of their community, a new locality model is being proposed that would see children receiving support within one of four areas.

Each locality would see Headteachers allocating resources as needed, allowing specialised teachers to work with primary and secondary teachers within mainstream schools as well as in a number of inclusion hubs.

The new system would mean children can remain within their local school more often and attend inclusion hubs in the local area if they need further enhanced support.

Education and Children's Services Convener, Councillor Jim Paterson, said: "All children and young people should have the best start in life and that's why it is important to make sure pupils who need additional support needs can reach their full potential.

"We know that moving a child out of their community means that they don't always feel a part of it. They don't develop as many friendships locally and this can have an impact when they reach adulthood.

"In areas of deprivation, this can have a bigger impact on children and young people than those from more affluent areas.

"By making sure that teachers across Renfrewshire can learn from specialist teachers who work with pupils with additional support needs, it means that they are able to provide much more support with mainstream education and within their community.

"As the number of children and young people needing additional support needs increases in Renfrewshire, which is in line with national trends, we need to ensure that we are flexible and proactive in our approach. Giving our Headteachers the resources to make those decisions locally will have a positive impact on pupils with additional support needs."

The review does not include Riverbrae and Mary Russell schools.

Parents, staff and pupils will be involved in the development of the new proposals, which are expected to start being phased into schools from August 2019.

Additional information

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 changed the way in which support for pupils with additional support needs was managed and widened the definition of additional support needs. The local authority is required to have a range of supports and services to meet each child's educational needs by addressing barriers to learning and making reasonable adjustments. The presumption of mainstreaming means that parents have the right for their child to be educated in a mainstream school environment.

The Scottish government strategy for closing the poverty related attainment gap delivering excellence and equity in Scottish educationprovides a clear focus for social justice by ensuring that education promotes and supports the rights and needs of all children and young people no matter what their background. Research shows that more children with additional support needs are affected by poverty, therefore it is crucial that a local strategy for supporting children and young people with additional support needs takes account of the principles of social justice, ensuring every child has the same opportunity to succeed, with a focus on closing the poverty-related attainment gap and building social capital.

On 18 January 2018, the education and children's services policy board agreed that a strategic review of educational provision and approaches in Renfrewshire to support children and young people with additional support needs would be undertaken and that a revised strategy outlining proposals for a delivery model would be brought to a future meeting of the policy board.

A report that outlines proposals to deliver educational provision and approaches to children and young people with additional support needs by reorganising existing provision and staffing into a locality model will be considered by the Education and Children's Services Policy Board on Thursday 1 November 2018. These proposed changes will enable services and support to be organised and delivered on a local basis in line with the principles of school empowerment, as well as ensuring best practice and best value.

The proposal will focus on ensuring that:

-additional support needs are identified as early in a child's educational journey as possible;

-supports are provided in the child's mainstream school where possible; and

-where a child needs support from outwith their mainstream school this is provided as close to home as possible.

A full engagement strategy will be developed to ensure parents, children and other stakeholders all have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the proposals.

Published: Friday 26 October 2018.