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Progress on additional support for learning "must accelerate in wake of the pandemic"

19 November 2021

The pace of progress on improving additional support for learning provision must increase as the country continues to respond to and rebuild from the pandemic, the Scottish Parliament has been told.  

Appearing in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children and Young People Committee earlier this week, Sally Cavers, Children in Scotland’s Head of Inclusion, called for:

  • Prioritisation of actions to deliver the recommendations in the Additional Support for Learning Review, conducted by Angela Morgan, and
  • A focus on supporting children and families in the early years.

She also said there was a need to work together in partnership across education, youth work, childcare and the wider children’s sector to deliver sustainable support and long-term change.

She highlighted the need to ensure equity of funding for additional support for learning in terms of Covid recovery, especially in relation to the Educational Recovery Fund (click here to learn more).

Following the evidence session, Sally said:

“We know that the educational experiences of children and young people with additional support needs have been particularly impacted by the global pandemic. That’s why it is imperative that the progress made against the ASL action plan is accelerated.

“The last 18 months have emphasised the importance of partnerships and support. The communities of services and support that exist around schools need to work together and all be part of the recovery plan in order to ensure long-term systematic change that is sustainable far beyond the initial Covid recovery plan.

"This also needs to be reflected in the investment to help with recovery. It will be critical that there is equity of funding for children with additional support needs, including in the distribution of the Education Recovery Fund.

“We also mustn’t forget about the challenges facing families with pre-school children with additional support needs. This has so far been missing from the discussion.

"We need to improve the support pathways and transitions for these families by facilitating good, solid and genuine relationships with key professionals involved in their care and support.

"This will be imperative for families at this crucial stage who were greatly affected by losing out on support and services during the pandemic.

“Finally, we are consistently told about the difference meaningful participation and being involved in decision-making makes. This core principle of children and young people’s participation needs to underpin all ASL improvement work going forward."

Sally also highlighted the ongoing work to develop a National Measurement Framework to provide evidence of the impact of additional support interventions.

In order to understand the level of investment required, development of the Framework and its swift implementation will be key, she said.

Sally appeared in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children and Young People Committee on Wednesday 17 November. Click here to view the full recorded session.

Evidence of impact

Children in Scotland submitted written evidence to the committee in November

Click to read the submission


The Scottish advice service for additional support for learning

Click to visit the website

My Right, My Say

Supporting young people to understand and exercise their rights in relation to education

Click to find out more

Challenging inequality and leading change

The first report from the Inclusion Ambassadors

Click to find out more

ASL Review action plan welcome, but actions speak louder than words

21 October 2020

Children in Scotland has welcomed publication of the Scottish Government’s ASL Review Action Plan but warned action is now required to make a tangible difference for children and young people.

Sally Cavers, Children in Scotland’s Head of Inclusion, said:

“We fully support the recommendations to systematically increase involvement of children and young people in education decisions, as outlined in the Action Plan, and welcome the comment that both national and local governments will seek to expand opportunities for engagement.

“But while we are pleased to see a commitment to strengthening involvement in policy and guidance, more action is needed to include young people in their own planning decisions.

“Evidence from our own services, such as My Rights, My Say, suggests that work should be taken forward to establish a bank of evidence highlighting barriers to involvement and participation, and identifying actions that make a tangible difference.

“The Scottish Government’s action plan, working with local authorities, commits to seeking and sharing the views of children and young people when considering responses to policy proposals. We, collectively, now need to ensure this is embedded across all schools and services.”

Calls for a new Inclusion Charter

While welcoming the vision statement, Ms Cavers warned that words alone will not lead to change on the ground. She highlighted calls for an inclusion charter which recognises those schools across the country meeting inclusivity milestones.

“The idea of an inclusion charter has been suggested by both Inclusion Ambassadors and the group of school pupils involved in My Rights, My Say," she said.

"It would commend schools, through a nationally recognised award, that demonstrate active involvement and participation of their pupils and would show genuine progress.”

The independent review, chaired by Angela Morgan, considered the implementation of the additional support for learning legislation and how this could be enhanced through a better use of resources, staffing or other aspects of provision. The review report was published in  June.

The Scottish Government’s response, the ASL Review Action Plan, was published on Wednesday  21 October.

Click here to read the Action Plan in full

Review of additional support for learning

Read the original report, prepared by review Chair, Angela Morgan

Click to read the report


The Scottish advice service for additional support for learning

Click to visit the website

Inclusion Ambassadors

Young people have their say on how to create a more inclusive educational environment

Click to find out more


Advice for children & young people who need support in education

Click to visit

My Rights, My Say

A support service for children aged 12-15, advising on their right to additional support for learning

Click to visit

School closures 'monumental' for children with ASN

Sally Cavers writes for TES on the additional challenges facing learners with ASN

Click to read the article