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Background Info

This issue was first raised by ENABLE Scotland’s Young Families Support Committee in 2010.  They identified a basic lack of understanding of learning disability by some classroom teachers and support staff as being a major barrier to inclusion and a successful learning experience. 

Information received from local authorities revealed that while many education authorities offer a wide range of courses on supporting children with learning disabilities in the mainstream classroom, very few make this training mandatory for all staff.  In some areas, learning support assistants receive only basic training in subjects such as moving and handling and positive behaviour management.

The Scottish Government’s Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland 2010 show that disabled students were almost twice as likely to be excluded from school than pupils without a disability and 5 times as likely to be excluded if they had additional support needs.

Along with this evidence, anecdotal stories collated from parents confirmed ENABLE Scotland’s view that the reason many children with learning disabilities and/or autism are not being properly supported in the classroom is because education staff lack awareness of the underlying issues contributing to challenging behaviour by these pupils and do not have strategies in place to successfully cope with this.

ENABLE Scotland is calling for the core curriculum of all initial teacher education courses at university to cover not only relevant legislation, policies and guidance but also how these translate into actual practice in the classroom so that newly qualified teachers can confidently support the education of all learners. This knowledge can then be built on throughout their career in mandatory CPD courses as outlined above. Support assistants should receive similar training on a mandatory basis, as they often provide much of the one-to-one support in the classroom to pupils with learning disabilities and/or autism.