Education is failing the most vulnerable children

TES | February 01, 2019

Education is failing the most vulnerable children
Our coalition was delighted to see the Scottish government this week announce a review of the presumption of mainstreaming. As many readers of Tes Scotland will know, this is an issue that our members – a mix of independent and third-sector organisations that support children and young people with additional support needs (ASN) – have been campaigning on for some time.The presumption to mainstream sees all children taught in mainstream schools unless certain exemptions apply. Currently, more than a quarter of the pupil population in Scotland (28.7 per cent) has ASN, an increase of more than 68 per cent since 2012 (in part due to an increase in awareness and identification). This, however, is against the background of 500 fewer specialist ASN teachers and a reduction in support staff, such as education psychologists and behaviour support staff. Children and young people identified as having ASN come disproportionately from lower-income families and areas of deprivation, with ASN more than twice as likely to be identified in pupils living in the most deprived neighbourhoods. The fact that those with ASN come from such backgrounds is a clear challenge if we want to close the education attainment gap – a key objective of the Scottish government.A lack of classroom support, driven in part by budgetary cuts, means that many of these vulnerable children and young people are not having their educational and social needs met. This is also putting pressure on fellow pupils and teachers, with many of the latter lacking the necessary training to provide the specialist support required.

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Science is everywhere in the world around us. Technology is continuously expanding into every aspect of our lives. Engineering is the basic designs of roads and bridges, but also tackles the challenges of changing global weather and environmentally-friendly changes to our home. Mathematics is in every occupation, every activity we do in our lives.

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