In June 2020 Angela Morgan’s Review into Additional Support for Learning ASL) was published. The NPFS is pleased to have had the opportunity to gather and share parents’ views with Angela Morgan, and welcome the recommendations made in the review. You can find out more about the research we undertook ahead of the review, and read our report of parents’ views and experiences from ur Focus Groups here.
The publication of this review is vital to ensuring that the implementation of ASL is effective in schools and ensures all children have their needs met. It is therefore important that these recommendations are not lost, and therefore we will be highlighting the recommendations made about relationships with parents and carers. You can see a summary of feedback we gathered from parents and the recommendations in the video below:
Cheryl Burnett, vice-chair of the NPFS said “As a parent of a child with Additional Support Needs (ASN), I have first-hand experience of the challenge’s children, young people, their parents, and families face to ensure that their needs are met. Throughout my time as the NPFS representative for South Lanarkshire and as Vice-Chair, I have had the opportunity to speak with so many parents of children with additional support needs. When I meet with them there is almost always one common theme: they are tired of having to battle for their child to receive the support that they need and deserve.
“I am a passionate advocate for children, young people, and their families with ASN, and I am proud to have the opportunity to represent parents at a national level. Too often parents of children with ASN do not feel heard, our concerns are dismissed, and professionals fail to recognise that we are the experts in our families lives and deserve to be involved as equal partners in our child’s learning and support.
“For these reasons, I was pleased with the announcement in January 2019 that a review into Additional Support for Learning (ASL) would be taking place. The legislation to support children with ASN is not necessarily the challenge, it is the reality of how these policies are implemented in our Local Authorities, Schools, and individual classrooms that required review. The Scottish Government’s commitment to Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) is excellent in principle, unfortunately in reality GIRFEC has not been happening in practice.
“I am a volunteer for the NPFS, and the only parent who sits on the Additional Support for Learning Implementation Group (ASLIG), as well as taking part in a range of groups relating to ASN, where I have the opportunity to represent parents of children with ASN’s views and experiences at a national level. To fulfil my duties in this group, it is so important that I get to hear the views of different parents from across Scotland. I am constantly hearing from parents online, via email, and who I meet at events about their experiences of ASL and providing information about where to find support and advice.
“At a Perth Q&A session the NPFS hosted with Deputy First Minister John Swinney in October 2019, we heard so many questions and heart-breaking stories from parents of children with ASN, who felt they had not been listened to and that their children’s needs were not being met. Following this Q&A, we arranged with Angela Morgan to host Focus Group with parents across Scotland to inform her review. In January 2020, we were overwhelmed by the response from parents who wanted to come and share their stories. We held six focus groups across Scotland in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dumfries, and Inverness. We would like to thank every single person who came to share their experiences with us, and all of those who emailed or sent us messages, we appreciate this isn’t easy to do. What we learned from the focus groups was that everyone’s experience is unique and individual, however there were also common themes: parents not feeling listened to, parents looking for reasonable adjustments for their child, wanting empathy and working relationships with their schools, and ultimately for their children to thrive. All of this and more was included in our report submitted to Angela Morgan.
“It is crucial that parents are involved as equal partners in their child’s education, learning, and support, and I welcomed the opportunity to input into the recommendations for ‘Relationships between Schools and Parents and Carers’ included in the final review. I am pleased that these recommendations highlight the importance of working with parents, and of listening to and acknowledging our lived experience and knowledge. I am also pleased to see the recommendation for further support for families, and to promote the use of mediation to ensure that we can build relationships and work together.
“I also welcome the overarching recommendation for children and young people to be listened to and involved, and I am particularly pleased with the recognition in the review that achievements and successes of children and young people with ASN need to be both recognised and celebrated equally to the way that we recognise attainment and exam results.
“The publication of Angela Morgan’s review is a landmark, and an opportunity to improve how ASL is implemented going forwards to ensure that children and families are supported and have their needs met. It is vital that the stories that fed into this review are not forgotten, and that despite the challenges of Covid-19, the recommendations are not lost. I know from my own experiences that the school closures and Covid-19 have proved challenging for many young people with ASN, and the impact of the lockdown will likely result in more children requiring additional support as we all transition back towards a more recognisable way of living. Therefore, the current crisis highlights rather than overshadows the importance of this review, as the recommendations have become even more relevant than before.”