The Scottish Government’s position on the presumption of mainstream education is clearly set out in legislation. The Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000 places a duty on education authorities to provide education in a mainstream school unless specific exceptions apply. In summary, those exceptions are where education provided in a mainstream school is not suitable for the aptitude and abilities of the child in question; where placing the child in a mainstream school may be seriously disruptive to other pupils at the school; and where placing the child in a mainstream school would incur unreasonable levels of public expenditure. The legislation indicates that it is presumed that those circumstances will arise only exceptionally.
I have received concerns from across Scotland about great inconsistencies in how the presumption of mainstream education is being applied. Can the minister confirm that the Government intends to review the presumption and indicate what he hopes a review might achieve?
I can certainly confirm to the member that a review of the guidance on the duty to provide mainstream education will take place. The review will aim to refresh the current guidance in light of legislative and policy developments, and it will be undertaken in partnership with stakeholders. The draft guidance that will be developed subsequently will be subject to public consultation to ensure that the contributions of a wide range of interested individuals and organisations can be made and heard. Given the member’s long-standing interest in and knowledge of the subject, I would certainly welcome hearing his views about the refresh of the guidance as it develops.