Inclusion Ambassadors welcome school return but say they still don't feel heard
23 Sep 2021
The Inclusion Ambassadors have shared their experiences of returning to school highlighting the positives of face-to-face interactions but warning there is still much to do to further inclusion in practice.
The group, who met virtually last week, spoke positively about their return to face-to-face education, with a particular emphasis on seeing friends, classmates and staff.
In addition, they shared their ease with the safety measures that remain in place and welcomed a return to routine.
However, the group had mixed experiences of feeling their voice was heard since they returned to school or college. Some spoke about feeling they were better listened to, evidenced through influencing decisions such as requesting a change of class. Others shared examples of where their views had not been taken into account or where they had been spoken to in a way that made them feel like they were not trusted or valued.
Chris Ross, Children in Scotland’s Senior Policy, Projects and Participation Officer who leads on work with the group said:
“It was great to see new and returning faces at our first Inclusion Ambassadors meeting of this academic term.
“We are encouraged by their enthusiasm for returning to in-person education, as we know missing their friends and other peers and a lack of routine was a big issue for many of the Inclusion Ambassadors over lockdown.
"However, members of the group continue to highlight what needs to happen to make sure the Inclusion Ambassadors, and others with additional support needs, are fairly and appropriately included in decisions about their education."
“We will be working with the group over this academic year to share their experiences with key decision-makers to make real progress and change.”
Ahead of the 2021/22 school term, the group published a suite of resources for schools and other education settings to encourage more inclusive practices.
In August, the Inclusion Ambassadors published a Vision Statement as part of the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Association of Directors of Education Scotland’s Additional Support for Learning Action Plan, outlining how schools can help pupils feel more supported and included. They also released a Pledge Pack to help schools reflect on how young people with additional support needs are being supported and listened to in their setting.
Enquire, Scotland’s national advice service for additional support for learning will shortly be undertaking work directly with schools in order to build on the work of the Inclusion Ambassadors and their Vision Statement.
Lucy Johnson, Children’s Rights and Communications Officer at Enquire, said:
“We know there are some educators and education establishments who are doing some great work out there – but we need to continue to work together to make sure all pupils have the support they need to get the most from school.”
“We are planning a focused campaign, working with education staff, as well as parents, carers and young people, to share the Inclusion Ambassadors’ resources. This will help ensure pupils understand their rights to additional support for learning and their rights to be included, listened to and involved in decisions about their education.