Support for pupils on part-time timetables is provided through “Included, Engaged and Involved” parts 1 and 2, which provide guidance on the promotion of attendance and the management of exclusion. Both parts recognise the importance of continued engagement to pupils fulfilling their learning potential. Part 2 makes clear that flexible or part-time arrangements
“should be for a short, agreed period with the aims and conditions around this recorded in any support plan.”
It is for education authorities to ensure that pupils receive the support that they need to benefit from educational opportunities, in line with the authorities’ responsibilities for the provision of education.
The Scottish Government is starting to collect information on the number of children who are on part-time timetables, and it needs to make clear the level of use of such timetables and the reasons for such action by schools. Does the cabinet secretary agree that pupils who are on part-time timetables should be on them for their own benefit, and that such timetables should be meaningful to their education?
Does the cabinet secretary share my concern that some young people are being excluded from the classroom for large parts of the day without receiving meaningful educational input? In some rural areas, children are being supervised by parents and volunteers. What will the Scottish Government do to address that problem?
Fundamentally, the responsibility for tackling such issues lies with individual local authorities, which carry the statutory responsibility for the delivery of education at local level. A local authority needs to be satisfied that, in all circumstances, a child’s education is being fulfilled. That is what the law says.
As I said to Mary Fee in relation to part-time timetables, the guidance in “Included, Engaged and Involved” says that any action should be taken as part of an agreed process to improve the interests of individual young people. The guidance is emphatic about the importance of ensuring inclusion in all aspects of young people’s learning, and about the need to minimise exclusion from learning.