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Tes Editorial

We must ensure ASN children have a voice

I noted with interest the research published by Children's Hearings Scotland into the children's hearings system and it is reassuring to know that the general perception by those involved is that it is largely well run and making good decisions.

However, although the research shows a high degree of confidence in the system, as with everything there is always more that could be done to equip panel members with the necessary skills. This is especially true when dealing with children who have additional support needs (ASN) and their families - ensuring that those taking part are able to participate and are aware of their rights.

We therefore agree with many of the suggestions for improvements to recruitment and training contained in the report. This calls for the recruitment of panel members with experiences and backgrounds similar to those attending hearings as well as a preference for younger members. We would suggest also that those with ASN are approached to join the panel. In a similar vein we propose training for panel members to give them a greater understanding of the challenges and behaviours associated with ASN.

As part of our outreach and education programme we recently approached panel members in all areas to offer them training to deal with children and young people with ASN, with a specific focus on autism.

This research reinforces many of the views that children, young people and adults have already expressed about their experiences of the children's hearing system and we welcome the opportunity to support and strengthen the current process.

Stuart Jacob
Director, Falkland House School

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