Members of ENABLE Scotland lobbied the Parliament this week to highlight the problem of a lack of training for education staff in learning disability and autism. The charity is concerned that a lack of appropriate training is leading to higher exclusion rates. Pupils with disabilities are twice as likely to be excluded from school and those with additional support needs are five times more likely to be excluded than other children. Only five of Scotland’s 32 local authorities offer training in supporting pupils with additional support needs.

The situation on teacher education courses is little better. The ENABLE Scotland research showed that although 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.

There are currently over 11,500 young people with learning disabilities in mainstream schools in Scotland. The charity launched a petition which received widespread support from parents, pupils, teachers and other professionals. On Tuesday 13 December representatives from ENABLE Scotland, including parents whose children have been affected gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee.

After hearing evidence the committee has agreed to write to the Scottish Government, COSLA, The EIS, and The Association of Head Teachers and Deputes Scotland, for their views.

Mike Holmes, Executive Director of ENABLE Scotland said: “We want to see mandatory training in the specific areas of behavioural management strategies, communication strategies and awareness of learning disabilities and autism. Not just in the general topics of additional support needs, inclusion and equalities.

This will give young people who have a learning disability improved prospects and greater confidence. In the Donaldson Review – the report into teacher education – teachers themselves identified the need to be better equipped in this area. This training will help reduce exclusion rates and improve the relationships between schools and parents and pupils

The petition was signed by pupils, parents, teachers and other professionals in the field so there is a clear message that change is needed. We are pleased to see campaign moving on another step”.


Notes to Editors and Quotes

ENABLE Scotland are in contact with several families who have children with learning disabilities in mainstream schools and are supporting this reform. These families will happily speak to the media and this can be arranged through ENABLE Scotland.

The full report entitled Teacher Education Campaign Report is available on the ENABLE Scotland website.


1.Bridging the Training Gap, ENABLE Scotland’s Teacher Education Report – replies were received from all 32 local authorities. Six of the responses were incomplete or inadequate and may therefore not be an accurate reflection of what these authorities offer. A summary of findings is included in the full report.

2.Bridging the Training Gap, ENABLE Scotland’s Teacher Education Report

3.Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland 2010

ENABLE Scotland

ENABLE Scotland is Scotland’s leading charity for children and adults who have a learning disability and their families and carers.

ENABLE Scotland campaigns for people who have a learning disability to live full and independent lives.



Contact: Nikki Slowey
Phone: 07921657185