The Inclusion Ambassadors have a clear vision to help pupils feel more supported at school. Now they need your help to make it a reality
5 August 2021
Our Senior Policy, Projects & Participation Officer Chris Ross explains why the Inclusion Ambassadors' call that all adults they come into contact with in education 'ask, listen and act' on what young people say is something everyone should get behind
The Inclusion Ambassadors are a group of 20 young people with additional support needs from all across Scotland. The group aims to make sure that the views of young people with additional support needs are heard in decisions about education. Children in Scotland has been directly supporting the Inclusion Ambassadors since May 2019.
The last year has been an incredibly challenging one for young people, particularly those with additional support needs. Restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic have limited opportunities to socialise and we know that support within school settings has been affected both by home learning and by staffing challenges presented by the pandemic.
However, there have also been important steps taken by Scottish Government and other stakeholders that will shape the provision of Additional Support for Learning for years to come.
Published in July 2020, the Scottish Government's review of the Implementation of Additional Support for Learning – chaired by Angela Morgan – made a series of recommendations. These included: children and young people’s participation, resources and relationships and behaviour.
We were delighted that the Inclusion Ambassadors were able to speak to Angela for the review and provide a submission based on their views. The review and its recommendations echo much of what the group told Angela as part of her review and also what we have learned across the period we have worked with them.
As part of the Additional Support for Learning Action Plan, published by Scottish Government in response to the review, the Inclusion Ambassadors were asked to come up with a Vision Statement for success for children and young people who have additional support needs.
The statement is intended to provide a guiding light for decision makers and practitioners. Having young people at the centre of this process is an important step in ensuring that their views are prioritised in decision making.
It is really exciting that the Vision Statement is formally launched today. We have published a vision and overview document that details the Inclusion Ambassadors’ role in how this was developed and what they will be doing over the coming year to further this Vision. It is proof of the sort of school experience that young people want: one where they are supported to learn, but also one where opportunities to socialise and a more holistic development are given equal weight.
However, the Vision Statement is only a starting point. There must be progress across all the activity in the Scottish Government Action Plan. There group want all children and young people to get the support they need to succeed, with a recognition that this will look different for everyone. There must also be meaningful changes to the delivery of schooling to prioritise wellbeing and relationships. Young people with additional support needs also must be given more opportunities to be listened to and involved in decisions about their education, both within their school setting but also within local and national government.
Without tangible action in policy and practice, the Vision Statement provided by the Ambassadors will not have the impact it deserves. It is now on those of us who work with children and young people to bring this to life. We must work together and in partnership with young people to make this happen.