Teachers 'must challenge inclusion on the cheap’

The principle of inclusive education is being undermined by a lack of investment and resources, union warns

Henry Hepburn

Henry Hepburn

Teachers must challenge ‘inclusion on the cheap’, says EIS teaching union

Scottish teachers must challenge "inclusion on the cheap", delegates at event in Glasgow will be told today.

Teachers from across Scotland will gather in Edinburgh today for a special conference focusing on education for pupils with additional support needs (ASN), entitled Responding to the Diverse Range of Pupils’ Additional Support Needs.

The conference is organised by the EIS teaching union and will also mark the publication of its new guidance on ASN, Additional Support for Learning in Scottish School Education: Exploring the gap between.


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It calls on “key actors” in Scottish education – including local and national government, trade unions and professional associations, Education Scotland, and awarding bodies – to “develop a collective response to urgent issues around ASN”.

It concludes: "‘Inclusion on the cheap’ is not acceptable. Scotland’s children and young people, and their teachers, deserve better."

Inclusion in Scotland

The publication draws on a recent survey of ASN provision across Scotland, commissioned by the EIS and carried out by the University of Aberdeen.

EIS president Alison Thornton said: “Ensuring adequate provision of education for young people with additional support needs is one of the most frequently cited concerns by teachers across the country.”

She added: “The EIS remains absolutely committed to the principle of inclusive education, and to the policy of educating young people with additional support needs in mainstream classes where this is the most appropriate environment for their learning.

Call for more ASN funding

“It is clear that, where issues with ASN provision arise, these are most often associated with a lack of resources and specialist staff to support young people with additional support needs. It is the operation and resourcing of ASN policy that causes the most concern, not the principles that lie behind it.”

The EIS guidance advises that, to “turn the promise of ambitious legislation and policy into truly inclusive practice in schools and nurseries”, action will have to include:

  • Attracting and retaining more ASN teachers and support assistants.
  • Attracting and retaining more classroom teachers.
  • Valuing ASN roles and those who undertake them.
  • Addressing teacher workload and morale.
  • Supporting the provision of sustained, meaningful, high-quality professional learning on ASN.
  • Supporting the development of nurturing and inclusive pedagogies.
  • Reducing class sizes.
  • Supporting services such as EAL, mental health, and speech and language services.
  • Addressing “challenges posed by the school environment, including the deficit in nurturing spaces and outdoor spaces”.
  • Helping learners with ASN to secure appropriate alternative assessment arrangements.
  • Identifying needs at the earliest possible point of a child’s life.

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