Question 3: Are the expectations set out under each of the 'present, participating, achieving and supported' principles the right ones?
Yes/no responses – all respondents
The above question was asked in relation to the Key Features of Inclusion – Present, Participating, Achieving and Supported section in the document. This section sets out four key features of inclusion which can be used to set expectations and evaluate children and young people's inclusion in their learning environment.
The responses to this question split between providing responses on the drafting of the section itself and issues around practice and how ready the system would be to support these expectations. Respondents from organisations were more likely to comment on the drafting of the section and individuals more likely to comment on what was currently happening in practice.
Just over half (55%) of respondents thought the expectations set out were the right ones. The reasons given for this were that the ideas were sound in principle and the key features of present, participating, achieving and supported did encapsulate what children should experience in their education. They felt that the expectations set out under each of the principles were helpful and could help to set out what we should be looking to achieve for children.
There were a wide range of general comments on the drafting of the section and on each of the expectations but there were areas where comments tended to cluster and these areas are set out below.
General comments highlighted the importance of linking the principles to the wellbeing indicators in Getting it right for every child, the four capacities in Curriculum for Excellence, How Good Is Our School 4 and the National Improvement Framework. The importance of partnership working was raised and ensuring partners worked together at key transition points, particularly leaving school.
In relation to present, it was felt that clarification was needed around what was meant in relation to full time education, that further explanation was required around exclusions, that situations where children couldn't be physically present because of medical needs etc. should be included and that responsibility of other partners, including parents, should be emphasised.
In relation to participating, it was felt to be important to emphasise that children and young people's views were key to ensuring participation and that communication was key.
In relation to achieving, it was emphasised that achievement could look very different depending on a child's needs. It was felt it was important to recognise that the curriculum needed to be tailored to support those with additional support needs and that differentiation was important. There were concerns raised about personalisation of learning and difficulties with this when there was a wide range of abilities within a classroom.
In relation to support, it was felt that a holistic approach should be taken that included social work, health and the third sector. It was felt that co-ordination of support was particularly important at transition points. As well as looking at support it was felt there was a role for professionals in moving children and young people towards independence and increasing resilience, especially as young people moved to leaving school. It was felt that support should be provided in a non-stigmatising and inclusive way as possible.
Although as highlighted above, the majority of the respondents thought the expectations were the right ones, many of these respondents caveated this by stating that they didn't think that current practice matched the expectations set out in the document. They raised concerns that some children were not currently receiving support in the way envisaged under the expectations. It was felt that the presumption of mainstreaming could mean that children were not in an environment most appropriate to meet their needs and that this impacted on the whole class receiving the support they required. Lack of resources was again highlighted as the reason for this with funding, lack of specialist supports and flexible provision, lack of training, teachers and support staff cited as reasons for this.
Many respondents commented that they did not think the expectations were the right ones. Individual respondents were more likely to disagree with the section and the majority of comments received did not focus on the drafting of the section but on how practice currently operated. Amongst those respondents, there was a belief that current practice did not match expectations and lack of resources was again highlighted as an issue.