Children with Additional Support Needs (School Location)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th October 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

5. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether children with additional support needs should be educated at the nearest appropriate school to their home. (S5O-03655)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Children and young people should learn in the environment that is best suited to their individual needs. It is for education authorities to determine the most appropriate provision for children and young people with additional support needs, taking account of their legislative responsibilities and the individual circumstances and wishes of children, young people and their families.

Guidance for education authorities is provided through the statutory code of practice on supporting children’s learning. Authorities are further supported in their decisions by the refreshed guidance on the presumption of mainstreaming, which was published in March 2019.

Photo of Kenneth Gibson Kenneth Gibson Scottish National Party

I thank the cabinet secretary for his comprehensive answer. Does he agree that local authorities should be flexible enough to allow children to be educated near their home, even when that means going to school in a neighbouring local authority?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Such a circumstance might well be appropriate for a young person. I certainly do not think that local authorities should feel constrained by a necessity to operate within their electoral boundaries in the context of provision to meet the needs of young people with additional support needs; nor should a local authority feel obliged to move outwith its area. The key decision making should be about the needs of the child, after good dialogue with the child and their family. I encourage local authorities to exercise their legislative responsibilities in the context of understanding and accepting the important point that Mr Gibson made.