IncludED in the Main!?

In March 2019, the Scottish Government published the first ever Guidance on the presumption to provide education in a mainstream setting – delivering on Recommendation 1 of #IncludED in the Main?! with a focus on equitable opportunities for every pupil who has a learning disability to participate fully in all aspects of school life. Education Scotland has also developed training resources for school staff, and the Scottish Government is exploring options for recognising and supporting the role of classroom support.

It is important that we ensure that the needs of young people are met most effectively. I am focused on the need to ensure that young people who have additional support needs are given adequate and appropriate support that is commensurate with their circumstances and conditions.  The Government will continue to take that approach, consistent with the content of the 2004 act.

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, John Swinney MSP


We believe every child who has a learning disability should have the support they need to do well at school, in any setting.

In 2017 we launched a national survey to find out what life is really like in classrooms across the country – and for the first time in a survey in Scotland, we asked parents, pupils – AND teachers.

Informed by over 800 responses, #IncludED in the Main!? shows that inclusive education is still far from a reality for many young people who have learning disabilities.

Our challenge now to Government at all levels is to listen.  Listen to the pan-perspective views shared by more than 800 young people who have learning disabilities, their parents and carers, and the education workforce who work with them, who took part in #IncludED in the Main!?

22 recommendations to take Scottish education on the next stage of the journey to inclusion.

You can join the campaign.

Add your voice to #IncludED in the Main?! by sending a petition to your local representative.

Let’s take the next steps on the journey to inclusion together.

What happened next?

  • Shortlisted for Herald Society Campaign of the Year
  • Scottish Government announces intention to publish guidance on inclusive education for the first time!
  • This is the first time the Scottish education system will have guidance which goes beyond the right to be present, to delivering the right to be genuinely included.
  • Won the SCVO Cracking Campaign 2017
  • Scottish Government Guidance published October 2018
  • Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner starts investigation into seclusion and restraint in education
  • Commissioner launches report, No Safe Place
  • Scottish Government announces review of additional support for learning


SCVO Cracking Campaign 2017

We are absolutely thrilled to win the Cracking Campaign award for #IncludED in the Main?! This was a campaign that listened to and amplified the voices of 800 young people who have learning disabilities, their parents, and teachers, and has prompted systemic change in Scottish Education. I would like to thank everyone who supported #IncludED in the Main, from our members to MSPs, collectively we have initiated change that will spell a more inclusive future for the next generation of people who have learning disabilities.

Jan Savage, Executive Director of Campaigns & External Affairs


Every child has the right to become a successful learner, confident individual, effective
contributor and responsible citizen – wherever their learning is taking place. Some will face
barriers to learning and will need additional support to enable them to make the most of their
educational opportunities and to realise their potential.

The Doran Review


Every education authority must — in relation to each child and young person having
additional support needs for whose school education the authority are responsible — make
adequate and efficient provision for such additional support as is required by that child or
young person.

Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act (2004)

Lucy’s Story

Seventeen year old Lucy McKee has had a difficult time at school. Alone and without friends,
she was often bulled and called names by her fellow pupils, or worse, she was just ignored.

Supported by her new headteacher, Lucy took a stand and spoke out about her experiences,
winning the hearts of her teachers and pupils in the school.

But despite this, the youngster still finds school life “hard”, often wishing she was more
#IncludED and says she worries about her future.

It was Lucy’s involvement with ENABLE Scotland that gave her the voice and resources she
needed to speak out about the significant problems she faced at school.

School wasn’t easy for me, I didn’t have any friends and some of the children bullied me and called me names, or just ignored me.  I felt invisible.  I spoke to my headteacher and said I wanted to talk to the whole school about it. I wanted them to understand what it is like to have a learning disability and how hurtful it is when people call you names.  I wanted to make it better for me and younger people who might be bullied too.

This was a turning point for Lucy and her work to educate peers on what it is like to live with
a learning disability has been instrumental in helping try to build a more inclusive school
environment.  Lucy has discovered a voice she never knew she had:

It has made me stand up for who I am.  Since I gave the presentation school has got a lot better for me. People know who I am and talk to me now. Mr Brown (Lucy’s headteacher) says younger children look up to me as a role model.

Despite improvements on the social elements of school life, Lucy still finds school difficult.

I just get on with school but it is hard. I feel like I’m not part of the crowd and sometimes don’t feel #IncludED in conversations with others. Classmates talk about university and their career and often I don’t feel #IncludED in those conversations.

When asked if the curriculum is accessible to her in terms of the way she learns, she said
that it depends: “Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. It depends on what topics or lessons.


22 Steps on the Journey to Inclusion

Recommendation 1: The Scottish Government
should replace current guidance on the duty
to provide mainstream education with holistic
guidance for local authorities on delivering
truly inclusive education; properly framing the implementation of the legal presumption to mainstream with children’s’ best interests and wellbeing at its core.



Recommendation 2: Lessons on Learning Disability should be embedded
into the curriculum for all students.
Pupils who have a learning disability
themselves should be empowered to be
have a key role in this.



Recommendation 3: Scottish Government  and Education Scotland must ensure plans within the National Improvement Framework to measure progress on wellbeing, equality and inclusion, genuinely reflect the voices of young people who have learning disabilities.

Recommendation 4: Education Scotland should embed greater accountability for inclusion by
mandating School Inspectors to ask explicit questions on full participation in school trips and
extra-curricular activities, and report on any barriers to that, as part of all school inspections.

Recommendation 5: Scottish Government should provide guidance on self-directed support for
children and families, and encourage the application of Self-Directed Support to support inclusion in
wider school life.

Recommendation 6: Scottish Government should review access to Self-Directed Support for families with disabled children and implement strategies to improve assessment for and uptake of this.

Recommendation 7: Additional Investment in the Scottish Attainment Challenge should be
targeted at reducing inequality of opportunity for children and young people who have learning disabilities.







Recommendation 8: The Scottish
Government should urgently explore ways to 
deliver National Standardised Assessments that are fully inclusive by establishing a
short-life expert working-group.

Recommendation 9: The Scottish Government should continue to invest in the specialist employability support in schools,
provided by the third sector; ensuring models of good practice become universal.

Recommendation 10: Through the development of a strategy for families with disabled children, the Scottish Government should bring together policy, legislation, and funding, to ensure support, information, and advice, is available to every parent of a disabled child; embedding the processes to ensure access to this is routinely facilitated by professional points of contact equipped to do so.

Recommendation 11: Scottish Government
should urgently extend plans to gather evidence on ‘initial teacher education programmes’ coverage of literacy,
numeracy and health and wellbeing to include coverage of additional support for learning needs within those





Recommendation 12: Modules on     
Disability inclusion, ASN strategies and
Positive Behaviour Support should be
incorporated into both Initial Teacher
Education programmes, and the new
Masters Qualification for Headship.

Recommendation 13: Scottish
Government should commission new
accredited CPD courses on: learning
disability, Positive Behaviour Support and supporting families with disabled children.  And monitor uptake by all education staff nationally as part of National Improvement Framework.

Recommendation 14: Scottish
Government and COSLA should
establish a national Commission on the role of classroom support in Scotland pursuant to a standardised role, supported by a national training programme, and guidance on appropriate deployment.

Recommendation 15: Scottish Government and Local Authorities must renew and continue investment in the role the role of Additional Support for Learning Teachers, through the creation
of an elevated post, and direct action to recruit and retain skilled staff into these positions.

Recommendation 16: Scottish Government should establish a National Centre for Excellence on
Learning Disability Education to: develop and accredit CPD; promote and disseminate best practice; create cutting edge resources; and support teachers to develop teaching strategies.

Recommendation 17: Scottish Government, COSLA, and Local Authorities must work together to urgently review and take action to standardise and improve practice around the early identification and recording of additional support for learning needs.

Recommendation 18: The Scottish Government should issue guidance on coordination of plans to remove complexity from the system.

Recommendation 19: Scottish Government should support local authorities and school leadership to implement an annual process of considering all pupil support needs and resourcing requirement to meet the collective learning needs identified by individual learning plans.

Recommendation 20: National and Local monitoring of those whole school learning needs plans should then inform national and local commissioning of specialist input.

Recommendation 21: Scottish Government 
and Education Scotland must take urgent
action to increase visibility, and reduce
incidence rates, of unrecorded exclusions
through the School Inspection regime.
School Inspections should include explicit
questioning on instances of unrecorded
exclusion, and request evidence of adapted
pupil support strategies to reduce
incidence rates.

Recommendation 22: Scottish Government
must be clear in Guidance that exclusion is
not a proper response to wellbeing issues
arising at school, and any decision to reduce
attendance at school, rather than providing
additional support, must be underpinned by
a transparent decision making process.

For our full report, including Respondent Information, more Case Studies and for a fuller explanation of The journey to inclusion, simply press the button below:

IncludED in the Main!? Read More

ENABLE Scotland has worked with the Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde to develop lesson plans for S1 and S2 pupils.

These are an anti-bullying resource to help promote the understanding and acceptance of people with learning disabilities. The resource consists of a series of lessons:

  • To help them understand and value difference.
  • To let them know what life is like for people with learning disabilities.
  • To show them what it feels like to be bullied just because you have a learning disability.
  • To explore opportunities for increased contact between young people with and without learning disabilities.

Lessons to promote understanding and acceptance of people with learning disabilities


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