Pupils with learning disabilities in Scotland are being short-changed by an educational system that fails to train staff to meet their needs, charity ENABLE Scotland has claimed. ENABLE Scotland's report, 'Teacher Education Campaign Report' reveals that none of Scotland's 32 local authorities provide mandatory training on learning disability and autism for teachers and support staff. Instead, they provide general training on additional supports needs and equalities but this is only mandatory in five local authority areas.
There are currently more than 11,500 young people with learning disabilities in mainstream schools in Scotland. ENABLE Scotland's research also shows that teacher training is little better. While general training is provided on additional support needs, inclusion and equality issues, specific modules on learning disability and autism are only included in the mandatory curriculum of three universities. This is less than half of the Scottish universities providing initial teacher education. In one case this consisted of just two lectures.
The charity claims that this may contribute to the high exclusion rates among pupils with support needs. In 2009/10 pupils who have a disability were almost twice as likely to be excluded from school as those without.
Peter Scott, chief executive of ENABLE Scotland said: "We want to see mandatory training not only in the general topics of additional support needs, inclusion and equalities, but also in the specific areas of behavioural management strategies, communication strategies and awareness of learning disabilities and autism. "We believe this will lead to improved educational achievement and to improved confidence and self esteem for pupils. It will also lead to better relationships between schools and parents and a more supportive learning environment. Furthermore, we believe it will reduce exclusion rates and improve the prospects for young people with learning disabilities."
ENABLE Scotland has launched a petition, which will be presented to the new Scottish Parliament with a request to ensure pupils with additional support needs get the support they need in school.The petition can be accessed at www.enable.org.uk or by phoning 0141 226 4541 for a paper copy.