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Ongoing issues with delivery of additional support for learning, new report reveals

A new report from Children in Scotland reiterates ongoing issues with the delivery of additional support for learning and calls on Scottish Government to take on renewed leadership of additional support for learning.

At the end of May 2023, Children in Scotland hosted a roundtable debate on the delivery of the Additional Support for Learning Action Plan, which involved stakeholders from across the sector as well as elected representatives from the Scottish Parliament.

Today we have launched a report highlighting the key concerns raised by participants in the debate as well as a key recommendation for action.  

While a range of examples of positive practice were highlighted throughout the report, the discussion also showed a system which is under immense pressure.

Positives included examples of a firm commitment to additional support for learning by senior leadership in schools. This ensures it remains a priority and ultimately has a positive effect on pupils. A 2022 Success Looks Different Award winner, Alva Academy presented a key example for other schools to learn from.  

A system under immense pressure 

However, the discussion also showed a system which is under immense pressure. Children in Scotland’s report follows the All Learners Matter report (click here to access) and reiterates many of its key messages: that increased investment in additional support for learning is now urgent.  

The impact of funding cuts is being acutely felt through the lack of specialist and additional support staff. Children, young people and teachers have all clearly articulated the impact this is having on teaching, learning and wellbeing. Many attendees at the roundtable also identified that the ongoing lack of support is hampering Scotland’s ability to fulfil the intentions of the presumption of mainstreaming guidance.

“[Getting the right support is] a relief, like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. It’s that simple, it’s not rocket science. It’s the school's job to support me.”
(Inclusion Ambassador)

In this new report, Children in Scotland has also highlighted the ongoing concerns heard on the Enquire helpline and from stakeholders aross the sector, about the number of children and young people who are missing out on all or part of their education. A lack of appropriate support is consistently highlighted as a key factor in this.  

Lack of progress 

Stakeholders also identified that there need to be more opportunities for children, young people, parents and carers to share their views on additional support for learning.

While positive examples such as the Inclusion Ambassadors or My Rights, My Say were recognised, there is a desire for opportunities to be embedded across the system and for all children and young people to have the chance to be involved in decisions about their education. This reiterates the calls made in the Independent Review of the Implementation of Additional Support for Learning and highlights a lack of progress over the past three years.  

Following the debate, Children in Scotland is clear that a route forward for the delivery of additional support for learning must be identified; one which emphasises positive examples and shares best practice. However, we must also recognise the very real pressure and strain associated with the delivery of additional support for learning at present.  

In response to this, Children in Scotland is calling for renewed leadership, accountability and a focus on additional support for learning from the Scottish Government, COSLA and the reformed education bodies. A significant first step in this would be the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills taking direct responsibility for the Additional Support for Learning Project Board to increase the profile of this and ensure leadership for delivery of the Additional Support for Learning Action Plan.

For more information, contact Chris Ross, Policy, Projects and Participation Manager,

Delivering the ASL Action Plan

Access the report with full findings and recommendations

Click here to access

Inclusion Ambassadors

Find out more about the work of the group

Click here for more

Success Looks Different Award

Find out more about the award, and access case studies from the 2022 entries

Click here to access


Find out more about Enquire, the national advice and information service for additional support for learning

Click here for more


Find out more about Reach, helping young people understand their rights around education

Click here for more