A possible better future?

Well we did share our views on the National Discussion. Whether it can be as innovative as the National Debate from 2002 we can wait and see. it is a pity that wasn’t fully implemented at the time. Anyway here’s our views.

  1. What kind of education will be needed by children and young people in Scotland in the future?

In the future, children and young people, their families and communities in Scotland will need a more inclusive and equitable kind of education with lifelong learning for all.  Scotland can seek to align and progress its education provision with Sustainable Development Goal 4  in its aims and targets.

For instance we note the recommendations and concerns of the United Nations about the lack of strategy for inclusive education within the UK including Scotland,. Scotland lacks a financed and time-lined strategy for inclusive education.  Thus we are failing to make progress with Sustainable Development Goal 4 for high quality inclusive and equitable education. 

As an example Sustainable Development Goal target aims for 4.5 Gender equality and inclusion in education. In Scotland girls do well in narrow achievement outcomes in secondary schools in most subjects however there are gender disparities in STEM subjects.  Gender stereotyping remains an issue as inclusive and equitable education has not been embedded in Curriculum for Excellence or our education system. Girls’ attendance continues to drop in secondary schools.  A more inclusive and equitable education system is necessary for all and further work is needed to narrow instances of gender disparity in our school system.  We believe every learner matters and matters equally.  We  regret the position of the Scottish Parliament to oppose inclusive education. 

2. How do we make that a reality?

As part of an inclusive strategy  we need increased efforts to promote high quality inclusive and equitable education, to make greater progress to achieve  SDG Target 4.5,  and to eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities and children in vulnerable situations.  

Scotland can seek to address SDG 4 and its targets through a process of monitoring and evaluation across the system to ensure equitable education and life long learning in our communities. Scotland can incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) including guidance on the right to inclusive education Article 24 and the guidance from the UNCRPD on inclusive education. 

This international guidance sets an aspirational agenda for Scottish education which has failed to progress in recent years. 

3. How can every child and young person’s individual needs be supported and addressed in the future?

One way is to refocus staff involved in special education, support for learning and school support towards inclusive services where special education is not a place but a service for all. 

Support for learning in Scotland has not kept pace with taking account of diverse needs of learners. Classroom teachers need more support from services to meet children’s needs in school and classrooms.  Greater collaboration needs to occur within and beyond and between schools. 

Scotland needs to transition special schooling from segregated specialist provision to integrated inclusive services as occurs now in many European countries.   

4. What is one thing that needs to stay and why?

From the start the curriculum was designed towards universal provision which includes aspects of universal design for learning. This includes the totality of the curriculum as described in the four contexts, the broad understanding of the curriculum including design principles of relevance personalisation and choice and challenge and enjoyment. In addition the idea of 3-18 learning needs to be built upon too through more play-based learning that its challenging and enjoyable. We do not need a new segregated stage in early years. 

5. What are the most important priorities for a future Scottish education system?

Investment in early years not a separate stage 

 As the most important priorities we recognise the need for investment in education in early childhood to promote challenging, enjoyable and relevant early learning through purposeful play and staggered start dates for children. In addition the need for collaboration and quality staff development among staff across services in early childhood settings and primary needs to be based on reciprocal communication, inclusivity, mutual trust and respect. In our view the importance of more collaboration in this way needs to be restated rather than bureaucratic Regional Improvement Collaboratives. Furthermore we should be targeting resources towards communities facing challenges of poverty and deprivation.

A key priority is to develop a comprehensive wraparound model of education, care and health from early childhood recognising partnership working with parents and carers. Such services should be flexible, accessible, affordable and responsive to community needs with extended day and all year round provision. we want to ensure that all children and family services support parents and carers where appropriate in identifying children’s needs and providing them with quality, timeous and appropriate support. We do not need segregated separate stage to achieve this. 

6. How can we ensure that everyone involved in education in Scotland has a say in future decisions and actions?

Devolve power from the centre to local authorities and schools towards local communities, parents young people and teachers and staff.  Scottish education is too centralised. We do not maximise the engagement of local communities and local schools working together.

7. How can children and young people be cared for and supported in the future? (i.e. physical and mental wellbeing)

 In our view the recovery from the pandemic to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all will involve greater attention to social and emotional mental wellbeing  by 

Ensuring comprehensive support for social and emotional learning including universal provision of counselling services

Encourage education authorities to promote neighbourhood and school-based solutions to ensure family engagement 

End assessment based on high stakes final examinations

End the digital divide that exists across Scotland.   

This reaffirms health and wellbeing within Curriculum for Excellence as the responsibility for all.  Schools can do more to improve peer support schemes among children and young people to support health and well being, challenge discrimination and  foster good relations within schools. Such an approach contributes to positive discipline, good behaviour and supportive relationships among staff and learners. 

8. How can the right of every child and young person to have opportunities to develop their full potential be achieved in future?

We are of the view that Instrumental Music Tuition should be free and available as an integral part of Scotland’s curriculum and state as such this has benefits across learning

Seek to achieve global aspirations through SDG4, and full incorporation of UNCRC as well as UNCRPD and the right to inclusive education. Scotland is going backwards in terms of such targets and rights.

9. How can children and young people be helped to learn about our changing world, so they feel able to positively contribute?  

Extend our values in education to include cultural diversity, equity, equality, inclusion and fairness. We need to embed equality education.

10. Do you have any other comments that you would like to provide about a vision for the future of Scottish Education?

An inclusive and equitable system would seek to end all state support for private schooling  

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