Section 8 Meeting Additional Support Needs

A child or young person may have additional support needs if they are unable to benefit from their school education without help beyond that which is normally given to children or young people of the same age. Children with additional support needs comprise a changing group of children and young people whose needs have to be continuously identified, understood and addressed. At significant risk are those children and young people whose family circumstances are challenging; for example, where a child or young person’s home life is disrupted by homelessness, parental alcohol or drug misuse, or parental mental or physical health problems. Senior Managers across schools and services need to ensure that practitioners carefully track the progress of all children and young people and are quick to communicate concerns about the degree of progress or different patterns in learning and behaving. Supporting Children’s Learning: the Code of Practice 2010, along with GIRFEC, emphasises the importance of working in partnership as the means to effectively meeting additional support needs.

Partnership working within each school and its community is the first and most important port of call. In order that this happens effectively, all schools and services should be clear who constitutes the in-school support Team. They must also be clear who constitutes the wider multi-agency integrated team which includes the school’s partners beyond Education and Learning. All members should be clear about who takes responsibility for managing and co-ordinating these teams.

Good schools hold a range of regular integrated team meetings to ensure effective support and have a greater sense that they can meet the needs of all children and young people. This may be through more appropriate curricula, effective teaching strategies and resources and/or through pastoral, family and health support provided by representatives of partner agencies. Section 12 provides further support in managing meetings. Effective schools and their partners know they are part of a greater team in which there is a width of knowledge and expertise built on relevant experience. These teams know how to develop excellent links with parents and carers. They also develop positive relationships with children and young people and listen to their views.

Curriculum for Excellence is a curriculum for all children and young people, aspects of which can be delivered in different ways by a range of practitioners. The entitlement to develop skills applies to all children and young people, although opportunities may be provided in different ways according to the needs of each individual learner. Children and young people may need support to make the most of the opportunities available,especially at times of difficulty, challenge or transition both in and out of school. Within the context of each situation,the extent to which needs can normally be met depends on the skills and expertise of each practitioner, advised by senior managers, support staff and others in relation to how well they:

  • differentiate the curriculum/ learning opportunities, using alternative or additional resources and/or strategies;
  • adapt the learning environment (including the social environment) to meet the diverse needs of pupils in school/children in the community;
  • acknowledge individual interests, strengths and needs through particular environmental arrangements such as small groups or low stimulus surroundings;
  • use of effective learning strategies such as co-operative learning, enterprising methods and peer or parent support;
  • listen to the views of children and young people;
  • provide targeted personal support to overcome social and emotional difficulties;
  • support vulnerable families.

Sections 13, 14 and 15 provide further practical advice.

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