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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-01738
Asked by: Rachael Hamilton, Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party
Date lodged: 22 July 2021

Question

To ask the Scottish Government what measures it has put in place to support young people with (a) autism, and (b) Asperger's syndrome who are (i) in mainstream education, or (ii) seeking apprenticeships or other work placements.

Current status: Answered by Shirley-Anne Somerville on 9 August 2021


Answer

We are committed to ensuring that all children and young people get the additional support that they need to reach their full learning potential.

The Additional Support for Learning Act places duties on education authorities to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils, including those with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. We provide free professional learning opportunities for practitioners in order to support education authorities to meet their duties under the Additional Support for Learning Act. This includes the Autism Toolbox and Inclusive Practice online professional learning modules.

We published our joint response to the independently chaired review of implementation of additional support for learning in October 2020. Angela Morgan’s report sets a clear direction in how we can continue to build on progress in this area. The joint action plan and governance arrangements are available from Additional support for learning: action plan - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

In addition, we published our Autism Action Plan in December 2020, setting out the actions we will take to improve the support to children and young people with autism in Scotland’s schools. We have made significant progress in implementing these actions and will formally report our progress in December 2021. Our work on supporting young people with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome in mainstream schools is also supported by our guidance on the presumption of mainstream education.

Our skills agency Skills Development Scotland (SDS), who have operational responsibility for the delivery of our apprenticeships programmes, have taken a range of measures to improve uptake of apprenticeships for individuals who have Asperger’s syndrome or autism.

Since 2015, SDS have produced an annual Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan outlining their approach to support individuals from a range of backgrounds to access apprenticeship opportunities and achieve equitable outcomes. They have introduced enhanced funding contributions rates for apprentices with disabilities up to the age of 29 from 2017-18 onwards. Apprentices with disabilities may also be able to access funding via Access to Work, and SDS have hosted specialist calls focusing on support and resources such as Access to Work for neurodiverse young people.

SDS support Learning Providers in their capacity to recruit and support diverse apprentices. Needs Assessor training is provided along with the opportunity for learning providers and employers to meet with local equality organisations who can offer advice and support when recruiting. SDS additionally offers an all-age Careers Information and Guidance (CIAG) service, where careers advisors support young people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome on potential career paths, including apprenticeships.