Scotland has a wide range of legislation and policies to support inclusion and equality in education, the most recent of which are explained in further detail in the Toolbox section Scottish Context.
These promote a child centred approach to encourage every child to reach their ‘fullest potential’. Our legislation ensures rights and entitlements for children and young people to education, support and wellbeing. There is a range of legislation and educational policies which place duties and expectations on schools and local authorities to ensure that they:
- Deliver an inclusive education
- Support learners to achieve to the best of their ability
- Do not discriminate against those with protected characteristics
- Provide assessments when requested
Children’s rights and entitlements are fundamental to Scotland’s approach to inclusive education. It is supported by the legislative framework and key policy drivers including, Curriculum for Excellence, the getting it right for every child approach and the Framework for Professional Standards for teachers. These are underpinned by a set of values aligned to social justice and commitment to inclusive education.
Effective partnership working
Effective partnership working with families to support their autistic child through their educational journey and helping them prepare for post school settings is required by all practitioners and local authority education staff. This is required at both the individual level and the wider level. For example:
- School management and staff should be aware of the autistic learners in their community
- The local authority should work proactively with local autism networks and support groups and ensure information on additional support within their region is easily accessible. It is helpful to include information on the autism network support group and should include support services for families and practitioners funded by the Scottish Government. Some examples are below.
Enquire provides an independent and impartial advice for teachers, parents, local authorities and others caring for or working with children and young people with additional support needs. Find out more: http://enquire.org.uk/ or call 0345 123 2303.
The Scottish Government has also established a children's service which provides advice and information, advocacy support, legal representation and a service to seek children's views independently about their support. This is called My Rights, My Say.
To support this, Enquire has developed a website dedicated to children and young people. Reach supports children and young people to feel supported, included, listened to and involved in decisions at school. The Reach website has information and advice for pupils about their rights to additional support for learning; practical tips for all sorts of school problems; young people’s real-life stories; and positive examples of pupil participation.
Considerations for educational staff
It is highly likely that all staff will have an autistic learner in their class at some stage. With this in mind it is important that teachers:
- Understand the individual learner, consider their strengths and needs
- Build relationships with parents or carers
- Engage with other agencies and staff involved with the learner
- Make appropriate adjustments to teaching and learning for the learner, ensure that the school curriculum is accessible (through the way in which activities are presented; modifications to the curriculum are made as required; specific consideration of the social curriculum). This approach is a legal requirement for children and young people who have a disability and will also be supportive to many more learners, with and without additional support needs
- Develop an enabling environment which takes account of physical, communication and social aspects
Many autistic learners may only require minimal levels of support in class. Their needs will be met by a small number of reasonable adjustments within an inclusive classroom environment. This might include providing a visual timetable to enable them to better understand the structure of their day. A smaller number of autistic learners will need a more personalised, tailored approach.
Staff need to consider their pedagogical approaches to ensure their early learning centre, school and classrooms are environments in which autistic learners feel safe, healthy and happy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible, and included.
Further information on developing and supporting an inclusive classroom can be found below.
Understanding Autism section - Impact of environment.
Professional Development section – Inclusion in Practice: The CIRCLE Framework – Secondary.
Responding to the need for a social curriculum for pupils with autism is an essential component for successful inclusion in any setting. By recognising the value of meaningful social learning, teachers will be enabling pupils with autism to function in and contribute more effectively in their own communities, developing competencies that are central to Curriculum for Excellence, i.e. successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors.