Special Educational Needs — [Geraint Davies in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:29 am on 20th March 2019.

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Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows SNP Whip, Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Small Business, Enterprise and Innovation) 10:29 am, 20th March 2019

I will make every effort to go faster, Mr Davies. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. I congratulate Julian Sturdy on securing the debate.

It was a real privilege to listen to the powerful evidence of the young people who spoke to the Education Committee yesterday morning. They forcefully and movingly shared their experiences of school, college and university. Representatives from RIP:STARS talked about the research they had carried out with Coventry University into EHCPs and their experiences of them. Young people who are supported by my AFK and who have experience of accessing further education and employment focused on their experiences of post-16 provision. And young people who are supported by the National Deaf Children’s Society and who have current and recent experience of secondary school spoke about their experiences of school.

I ask the Minister to view the footage of yesterday’s evidence gathering session and not to wait for our report, which is due to published just before the summer recess. The footage is moving and could be fundamentally life changing if we address the issues those young people raised by telling us about their experiences.

In Scotland, the Scottish National party believes that all young people and children are entitled to the support they need to reach their full learning potential—education to go out and lead forth. Scotland has a system that focuses on overcoming barriers to learning and getting it right for every child. About 16,000 school-aged children in Scotland have learning disabilities. Education authorities have statutory duties to ensure that pupils with additional support needs who are due to leave secondary school are supported in making that transition. I am not going to pretend that everything in Scotland is perfect—it is not—but we have the advantage of a Government who promote collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people at the heart of the system, and an Act that sets out the rights of young children and parents.

In addition, through the national implementation of their action plans, “Getting it right for every child” and “Delivering excellence and equity in Scottish education”, the Scottish Government are working to improve outcomes for children and young people with special needs. The Scottish Government have published an implementation framework for the delivery of the Scotland learning disability strategy, which outlines the vision for children who have learning disabilities. The Scottish Government also work closely with Dyslexia Scotland and others to produce resources for schools and to ensure that children and young people with dyslexia are able to realise their potential. Similarly, they support pupils with autism, and, working with Autism Network Scotland, have produced an autism toolbox that provides information to help the identification, support and planning of learning for pupils with autism, as well as helping teachers with their professional development.

The Scottish Government are investing to ensure that the resources are in place to deliver on their commitments to all pupils, including those with special educational needs. One of the challenges we face in Scotland is that a no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic effect on staffing levels and EU grants, which are vital to our education system and help children and young adults.

I hope the Minister will look at the recent footage of every evidence gathering session held by the Education Committee. I think we can all agree that all children should receive the best possible education that not only prepares them for academic success but fits them to be the citizens of the future. No matter what our Government or party allegiance, we should all seek to give our children the best education we can.