Scotland Policy Conferences

Additional support for learning in Scotland - identifying needs, improving delivery, and support for the teaching workforce

Morning, Wednesday, 27th November 2019

Central Edinburgh


This seminar will examine key issues for additional support for learning (ASL) in Scotland.

Areas for discussion include how to better identify ASN (additional support needs) particularly for young people who have suffered from adverse childhood experiences; support for the teaching workforce and improving the delivery of ASL in schools in the context of the Scottish Government’s new guidance on the presumption of mainstreaming.

It follows:

  • Concerns expressed by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee in their renewed examination of the presumption of mainstreaming and ASL, including in areas of:
    • resources and systems for delivery of ASL;
    • seclusion and restraint; and
    • numbers of specialist staff. 
  • Publication of the Scottish Government’s guidance to local authorities which aims to ensure children with additional needs are fully supported in mainstream education by providing advice on the best learning environment for young people, including defining exclusion for the first time and how it should be delivered;
  • A drop in the number of Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs);
  • Calls for increased resources to support young people with ASN in mainstream education amidst funding concerns.  

The conference also takes place as The Scottish Government takes forward a review of the use of Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs), and considers how to strengthen guidance and support for education authorities.

This follows what has been termed a ‘terminal decline’ in the number of support plans at the same time as the number of pupils with ASN is increasing, with concern that local authorities do not fully understand what is required of them.

We are delighted to include a keynote address from May Dunsmuir, President, Health and Education Chamber, First-tier Tribunal for Scotland - where challenges are made by parents, children and young people regarding preparation of CSPs by authorities, for example with relation to criteria, timing or content.

With 40% of the poorest children in Scotland having ASN there will also be an address from Mary Berrill, Head of Inclusion, Education Scotland on closing the educational attainment gap, particularly those with complex needs - and outlining examples of good practice across Scotland as Education Scotland are increasingly working more closely with schools, and on a regional basis, to identify good practice.

Delegates will discuss the way forward for tackling issues surrounding resources, access to support both in mainstream and special schools, and the early identification and assessment of children with ASN.

They will also share latest thinking on how to identify ASL needs for children with adverse childhood experiences, support their mental wellbeing and undo the impact of trauma at a time of increased focus of supporting children with complex support needs.

We also expect attendees to assess the opportunities for developing the consistency of identification and access to services for communities across Scotland as well as the relationship between ASL and the wider attainment gap.

Delegates will additionally discuss how to fully support children with ASN in mainstream education following the recent publication of Scottish Government guidance. Delegates will discuss whether the guidance is sufficient in supporting LAs and parents to identify the most appropriate setting for a child.

There will also be a focus on how to improve the delivery of ASL in schools, including ensuring sufficient resources, defining inclusion and promoting inclusive practice.

The way forward for supporting and expanding the workforce will also be considered, with concerns surrounding a decline in the number of specialist teachers and a reduction in support staff.

Further sessions discuss how to improve training provision during initial teacher education and for mainstream teachers - and career pathways and professional development, following the recent commitment by The Scottish Government to provide new training resources to assist staff.  

There will also be a focus on support measures for children with Complex Additional Support Needs.

Delegates will discuss the draft 10-year strategy with The Scottish Government and the National Strategic Commissioning Group analysing consultation findings.

Keynote Speakers

May Dunsmuir

President, Health and Education Chamber, First-tier Tribunal for Scotland

Mary Berrill

Head of Inclusion, Education Scotland

Keynote Speakers

May Dunsmuir

President, Health and Education Chamber, First-tier Tribunal for Scotland

Mary Berrill

Head of Inclusion, Education Scotland


Brian Whittle MSP

Co-Convenor, Cross-Party Group on Children and Young People


Suzanne Wilson

Chairperson, ASN Parents Together

John McKean

Principal Teacher, Language and Communication, St Ninian’s High School, Glasgow

Senior speaker confirmed from The Royal Blind School

Iain Nisbet

Consultant, Iain Nisbet Education Law Consultancy and Convener, School Closure Review Panels

Helen Gillan

Headteacher, Cairns Primary School, Glasgow

Professor Sheila Riddell

Director, Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh

Dominic Everett

Depute Headteacher, The Royal Blind School

Bernadette Casey

ASN Sector representative, Association of Headteachers and Deputes in Scotland

Jan Savage

Director of External Affairs & Strategic Development, ENABLE Scotland

Yvonne Ross

Secretary, ASN Parents Together

Senior speaker confirmed from EIS

Pauline Beirne

Allied Health Professionals Children and Young People National Lead, The Scottish Government

Kenny Graham

Head of Education, Falkland House School, Fife and Spokesman, Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

Lorraine Thomson

Chair, Education Issues Group, UNISON Scotland

Rebecca Scarlett

Senior Policy and Information Officer, Lead Scotland