First annual Inclusion Ambassadors report calls for action to help young people feel supported in school
1 September 2021
The first annual report of Scotland’s Inclusion Ambassadors has been published today, calling for more activity to ensure those with additional support needs feel supported at school.
The report, Challenging inequality and leading change, reviews the work of the Inclusion Ambassadors group from 2020-21. It highlights their activity over the last year, including input into the Review of Additional Support for Learning, as well as the creation of a Vision Statement published as part of the Scottish Government’s Action Plan agreed in response.
The group members also share their experiences of being young people with additional support needs in an education setting, the impact of Covid-19 and what they would like to see change to ensure school is a happy and safe place.
Specifically, the Ambassadors highlight the importance of being involved in decision-making, two-way communication with school and support staff and relationships built on trust. They identify the positive difference this can make to their day-to-day experience and learner journey and the issues when one, or all, of these elements are absent.
Key recommendations made within the report include calls to:
- Directly involve young people with additional support needs in discussions around their support. This includes asking pupils what support they would like, and how this should be delivered
- Ensure ongoing, open communication with young people with additional support needs. This includes advising them of what decisions have been made and why, the practical implications of this, as well as ensuring feedback is provided from any meetings or discussions they have participated in
- Increase the number of support staff with specialist knowledge and skills
- Deliver person-centred, consistent support, including flexibility to work in a way that may suit them, even if it’s different from the rest of the class
- Make time for pupils to socialise and engage with their friends, allowing for social and emotional development and relationship-building.
Sally Cavers, Children in Scotland’s Head of Inclusion said:
“The Inclusion Ambassadors are a fantastic group of young people who are committed to influencing and facilitating change. By sharing their experiences they’ve provided real insight into what works, and what needs to change.
“It’s encouraging to hear the examples of inclusive practice across Scotland with the Ambassadors telling us the difference it makes when staff trust and include them, and understand their needs. However, the issues raised show the need for better, more consistent support and highlight where policy is not necessarily being translated into practice.
“We hope this report will encourage an examination of how pupils with additional support needs are being supported and ultimately lead to positive change for those currently in, or about to enter, the education system.
“We look forward to supporting the Inclusion Ambassadors with their work going forward, including ongoing communication with the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group (ASLIG) and other key decision--makers.”
Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Shirley-Anne Somerville, said:
“I welcome the first annual report from the Young Ambassadors for Inclusion. We will continue to work together to take forward the measures set out in our ASL Action Plan, which aims to enhance the experiences of children and young people with additional support needs across Scotland.”
During the coming year, the Inclusion Ambassadors will be inviting a range of decision-makers to meet with them to listen to their experiences, discuss their views, and identify what changes can be made.
Challenging inequality and leading change: A report on the work of the Inclusion Ambassadors work 2020-21 was published on 1 September, 2021.
For press enquiries, please email Jennifer Drummond, Communications Officer, Children in Scotland – email@example.com