Supporting learners with Additional Support Needs
In 2020 we conducted a survey of Scotland’s young people to ask if they supported a series of recommendations. The first one we asked on education and lifelong learning was if they agreed that “The Scottish Government and Councils should invest in more support for and awareness of learners with Additional Support Needs.” Overall, 84.7% agreed, 4.9% disagreed, and 10.4% didn’t know.
Reflections from young people
A young person told us:
“I began studying English Language & Literature with the Open University in September. I study part-time to ensure I can manage my mental health and continue working.
For context, I struggle with mental ill health and a disability. I originally applied with a diagnosis of Asperger’s but I recently had that diagnosis redacted. It turns out that I actually have ADHD. This has been a confusing time but the OU’s disability advisor has been patient and understanding. There is a lot of stigma and misinformation surrounding ADHD, especially in adults. My ADHD mainly affects my executive functioning skills. These vital skills are best understood as ‘self-management’ skills. So, when they are lacking, it affects: time management, memory, mood regulation, motivation, and managing to keep on top of that never-ending to-do list.“
Investing in welfare services in colleges and universities
The next recommendation we asked Scotland’s young people if they agreed with is “There should be more investment in college and university welfare services, such as mental health support, pastoral care, advice services, and housing support.” Overall, 85.5% agreed, 4.2% disagreed, and 10.3% didn’t know.
There’s been a lot in my life that’s happened and I’ve not really been able to focus on school. With my dad passing away, [I didn’t find] the school very supportive […]. They gave me one and a half days off. I was in a really bad place and I didn’t want to be in school, and they were forcing me [to attend].– A young person whose family is affected by alcohol or drugs.
Preventing LGBT bullying in schools
We also asked Scotland’s young people if “There should be a dedicated fund for initiatives to educate, prevent and address LGBT bullying and discrimination in schools.” Overall 73.8% agreed, 12.9% disagreed, and 13.3% didn’t know.
I experienced some harassment from students that went largely ignored. When I came out [as a transgender man] to my teaching set, another pupil stood up to declare that he couldn’t just “come in tomorrow and say I’m a girl.” […] He was told to be quiet but nothing was done beyond that – no actual challenge was made to the lack of tolerance his comments showed.– A transgender young person
Increasing productivity, wellbeing and attendance in schools
Next, we asked Scotland’s young people if they agreed that “To increase productivity, wellbeing and attendance, the school day should start no earlier than 10am for all secondary school pupils in Scotland.” Overall, 59.4% agreed, 29.7% disagreed, and 10.9% didn’t know.
Curriculum and budgetary decisions at schools
The final recommendation we put to Scotland’s young people on education and lifelong learning is “Young people should be able to contribute to the development of the school curriculum and school budgetary decisions.” Overall 75.8% agreed, 11.3% disagreed, and 12.9% didn’t know.
Reflections from Young People
Ellie Craig MSYP supported participatory budgeting and said:
“Involving young people in decisions around how budgets are spent is really important as it shows them that their voice matters and allows them to have a say in decisions which affect them. This is more important now than ever with the incorporation of the United Nation Convention of the Rights of the Child into Scots law, specifically article 12. When young people are involved in Participatory Budgeting processes it empowers them to use their voice in other meaningful ways and helps to build useful life skills. Participatory Budgeting has the power to bring communities together which is necessary in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”