I was lucky enough to attend the Scottish Learning Festival recently – one of the perks of this secondment – and I think its important that I share what I learn with all of you. Of course, with an event such as this, there is a wide range of topics being presented and/or discussed, and it’s very tempting for me to throw a whole load of information at you – but I have to remember the focus of this blog, and that people don’t like getting bombarded with lots of posts, so I’ll try and keep it as relevant and succinct as possible. However, I will ask your indulgence if I stray a little from purely ICT-related matters – I hope you’ll still find the posts useful (and, as always, I’d love to hear from you whether this is or isn’t the case).
Anyway, that said, on with the first SLF-related post!
Inclusion across Europe
This seminar looked at different European countries’ attitudes and practices in relation to inclusion and then discussed how Scotland fits in to that overall picture. Information was provided by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, Education Scotland and Enquire (a Scottish advice service for additional support for learning).
A lot of detail was provided about different projects, and I’m happy to share the slides and my notes with anyone who’s interested. I’ve summarised some of the most interesting points below:
- The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have released information that shows that the highest performing countries are the most inclusive.
- A significant number of learners across Europe are underachieving, often leaving school with little or no qualifications. Many initiatives have been tried to combat this, but the effects (particularly in relation to equality) have been limited. Awareness of the huge cost for little gain in this area is becoming increasingly recognised.
- Current systems of support often focus on a “compensatory” approach for affected individuals, rather than using resources to improve the capability of the system – we need to start designing curricula for the diversity of learners upfront, not as a “bolt-on”.
- In all countries, educational policy and legislation is under review. In many countries, separate funding is given for “vulnerable” learners, and woolly terms like “appropriate education” are used, but this is slowly changing.
- In most countries, special schools are working more closely with mainstream schools, and/or becoming “centres of expertise” that mainstream schools can draw on.
- All the UK countries have less than 2% of pupils who have additional support needs in segregated settings. This compares quite well with the rest of Europe.
- At the last census, there were 118,034 children in Scotland with additional support needs, and about 98% of pupils were in mainstream classes at least 80% of the time.
- Generally, Scotland does well, and most children and young people perform well at school, but we could do better, particularly when it comes to addressing social inequalities. We also have a comparatively high number of young people who do not have positive post-school destinations.
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