Provision to suit pupils' needs

4th March 2005 at 00:00
Glasgow City Council is Scotland's largest education authority and, with some of the worst areas of deprivation within its boundaries, its costs are high when it comes to supporting children with a wide spectrum of needs.

In budgetary terms, it spends almost pound;3 million on inclusion and a further pound;1m on alternatives to exclusion, nearly pound;1m on additional support for learning and pound;1.1m on behavioural support measures that come under the umbrella of the Scottish Executive's Better Behaviour - Better Learning strategy.

Glasgow was the first authority in Scotland to make it mandatory for every school's senior management team to include a designated member undertaking specific training in inclusion.

Although most children with additional support needs attend mainstream schools, the council also provides a range of special schools and specialist support via units for communication disorders (one establishment), complex learning difficulties (four establishments, including Broomlea), moderate learning difficulties (seven establishments), sensory and dual sensory impairments (three establishments), physical impairments (two establishments) and social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (three establishments, including one residential).

In the pre-5 and mainstream primary and secondary sectors, a range of staff are employed to support children with additional support needs, from classroom assistants and special educational needs auxiliaries to peripatetic specialists and staff from other sectors, such as health.

"Our aim is to have the least intervention to increase the independence of pupils as much as possible," says Margaret Orr, head of SEN for Glasgow.

The council's much-praised nurture group initiative, targeted at early years primary children who show social or developmental problems, is being expanded to each of its 29 learning communities. One of its greatest successes has been in engaging parents who themselves may have been disengaged from education. Many of the nurture group pupils, having received special attention from trained teachers and assistants, are soon able to return to their mainstream class and re-engage in learning.

In the case of children with more specific or profound learning difficulties, the 5-14 curriculum is often modified to suit the pupil's needs, with a focus on developing life skills and social interaction.

The council also has an interrupted learners' service for children suffering from long-term illness. From the summer, 24 children will be able to access education at home using computer links, giving them more independence over when they learn.

The city supports around 200 children from outwith its boundaries, the majority of whom attend specialist schools or units.

"Our aim is to match the individual with the provision that best suits him or her. We want to develop their social, citizenship and learning capacity and empower them to make the best choice," said Ms Orr.

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