The educational experiences of young people with learning disabilities

By ENABLE Scotland's Director of Campaigns, Jan Savage

Young people with learning difficulties, their parents and teachers working with them have just days left to feed into a national campaign aimed at reshaping education for students with additional support needs across Scotland.

Earlier this summer, ENABLE Scotland launched a national conversation 'Included in the Main?!' to ask what the educational experiences of young people who have learning disabilities in Scotland was truly like.

Young people, their parents, teachers and education staff have all been filling in online surveys outlining what life is like for youngsters with learning disabilities attending schools in Scotland today, and what it's like to work with them

ENABLE Scotland will use the responses to inform a national campaign for change to ensure their members and all young people with additional support needs are able to live the lives they deserve.  The charity will present a summary of responses to the Scottish Government, as part of the government's consultation on guidance on the presumption to mainstream for pupils with additional support needs.

The national conversation was sparked after the charity's members told staff that a truly inclusive education is far from a reality for many. Verbal evidence from its members pointed to many young people who have learning disabilities being excluded by friends and peers; from curriculum and classroom and from opportunities and activities that make up every part of school life.

ENABLE Scotland's Director of Campaigns Jan Savage said: "Talking about the experiences of young people with learning disabilities in schools has become an elephant in the room. We wanted to open that conversation up and find out what was really going on, backed by hard evidence based on real-life experiences."

Early indications from the survey have shown a stark picture with more than 70 per cent of Scottish pupils with a learning disability saying they don't get enough help and time from teachers and 94 per cent of parents saying they feel schools do not receive enough resources to work with them. [1]

As part of its national conversation, ENABLE Scotland will be holding a #reallives Live Tweet session with ENABLE Scotland's Director of Campaigns Jan Savage and the charity's Campaigns and Policy Manager Kayleigh Thorpe. Young people, parents and educational staff are being urged to come online to give a hint of their #reallives stories, support each other and find out more about the survey and what will happen next. The session will be held on Friday, August 26, from 12-2pm. Follow @ENABLEScotland @Jan_Enable @kayleigh_ENABLE on the day.

[1] The views of 250 young people who have learning disabilities and their parents who have contributed to ENABLE Scotland's national conversation: Included in the Main?!