Aberdeen ,

Positive impact of Inclusion Review revealed

A report on the positive impact of the implementation of the recommendations of the Inclusion Review went before the Aberdeen City Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee today (Thursday 17 November).

Members of the committee heard and noted the significant progress to meet the needs of a wide range of learners, which has been made since the Inclusion Review made its recommendations in December 2014.

The review had highlighted that a high number of specialist provisions and cumbersome referral processes resulted in many children travelling long distances to access appropriate support.

It also revealed that there was a lack of consistency in the offer of support available in the city’s mainstream schools because some schools were funded to provide enhanced levels of support within a separate staffed area in their school.

Following the review a framework for staged interventions was developed to support schools to identify appropriate levels of intervention required to meet the needs of a wide range of learners, to identify those children requiring specialist provision and to identify what additional resources might be required to meet needs within a mainstream setting.

Officers have engaged widely with partners including third sector organisations and NHS Grampian to ensure that the move towards a presumption of mainstreaming is well understood. Parents and carers have had the opportunity to inform the new ways of working through attendance at the ASN Parents Forum.

Children and young people have also been involved in the development of new approaches. By taking forward this change more local children now access their local schools.

Aberdeen City Council’s Convener of Education and Children’s Services Committee, Councillor Angela Taylor said: “Aberdeen City Council’s ambition to support every child, irrespective of their circumstances, to grow and develop, and to reach their full potential is being realised by the ongoing implementation of the recommendations of the Inclusion Review.

“By working in partnership with our young people, parents and carers, and staff we want to ensure equality of access and opportunity for all.”

Below are the numbers of children with additional support needs who accessed their local school in Aberdeen in the past three academic years:

  • 2013/14 – 1,954
  • 2015/16 – 2,387
  • 2016/17 – 2,637

These figures reveal that children are now having their needs met in their local mainstream school with their peers and siblings.

As parents and carers have become more confident that individual needs will be met in their local school there has been a reduction in placing requests. In academic year 2016/17 there were 1,024 placing requests made compared to 1,531 in session 2013/14.

The number of children being transported to a school out with their local area has reduced from 761 in 2013/14 to 623 in 2016/17, with expectations that this figure will continue to decrease in the coming years.

An improved understanding of additional support needs has led to an increase in those being identified as being in need of some additional support. In 2013/14 only 12.5% of children and young people were identified as being in need of additional support. This has increased to 16% in academic session 2016/17.

An extensive range of professional learning opportunities has built the capacity of over 6,000 members of staff based in our schools and over 700 from across the partnership.

Evaluation evidence shows the positive impact of training and these are used to inform future plans. They are also contributing to an increase demand for further professional learning.

The roll out of Associated Schools Group (ASG) Partnership Forums from January 2017 will pool resource and expertise from across the City Council and wider partnerships to ensure best value and support for both primary prevention and early intervention.

Outreach services have been extended and have benefited greater number of staff and learners. A Virtual School Head Teacher (VSHT) – a council officer – is working with colleagues in schools to improve outcomes for the city’s Looked After Children by ensuring appropriately challenging curriculums are in place. Training and support for designated managers for Looked After children has improved understanding of the very particular needs of this vulnerable group.

A citywide inclusion Teacher Learning Community (TLC) will be launched in November 2016, which is seen as an invaluable means of sharing effective systems and processes across schools.