Presumption of Mainstreaming: The Right Approach for Children with Additional Support Needs?

The principle of inclusion is a pillar of Scottish education, but should inclusion mean the same thing as mainstreaming? Critics argue that for some children with additional support needs, special schools can be more inclusive environments than their mainstream alternatives. As the presumption of mainstreaming comes under scrutiny from opposition parties and the Scottish Government’s own recent consultation, this timely event examines what changes to this policy will mean for schools, local authorities, and children with additional support needs.

How to best support children with additional support needs

The Scottish Government published its analysis of the consultation on the presumption of mainstreaming in June 2018, with the guidance due to be released later this year. They have also pledged to build ‘further capacity to deliver effective additional support’ in mainstream schools in this year’s Programme for Government. This commitment suggests that there will only be minor alterations to the presumption of mainstreaming, but the policy is facing increasing criticm from opposition parties, charities, and teachers  indicating that more drastic reform is in the pipeline. 

The debate around the presumption of mainstreaming is brought into sharp focus by the doubling of pupils with additional support needs in our schools since 2011, combined with a sharp decrease in the number of special schools. This is 'one of the biggest challenges in Scottish education'. 

At this critical juncture, we ask, what is the future for the presumption of mainstreaming for pupils with additional support needs? 

Why come to this event?

  • Hear from outstanding experts and policymakers directly involved in additional support education 
  • Your chance to question the people that matter
  • Learn what the new guidance will mean for schools, local authorities, and pupils with additional support needs
  • Join the conversation in an interactive roundtable discussion
  • Leave with an increased knowledge of the debates around he presumption of mainstreaming 
  • Network with colleagues and share innovative approaches to ensure we best support children with additional support needs

Who should attend? 

  • Teachers
  • Head teachers and deputy heads
  • Local elected representatives
  • Academics
  • Local authority education and children’s services professionals


9.45 Registration and Refreshments 

10.30 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair 

10.35 Session 1: Policy Context and Debates Around the Presumption of Mainstreaming 

10.35 Expert speaker 

10.55 Mark O'Donnell, Chief Executive, Royal Blind

11.15 Q&A

11.25 Refreshments and Networking 

11.45 Session 2: Approaches to Support Children with Additional Support Needs

11.45 The Solution Room

This interactive workshop is designed to provide peer-supported advice on your most pressing problems in supporting children with additional support needs. You will have five minutes to think of a challenge you are facing. Participants will then be divided into groups and each person's challenge will be brainstormed by your group in seven-minute cycles. 

12.40 Facilitated Q&A with an Expert Speaker

This section is built on top of the Solution Room. Any questions that come out of the solution room will be put to our expert speaker.

13.00 Lunch and Networking 

13.45 Session 3: Good Practice in Different Settings: Mainstream & Specialist 

13.45 Expert speaker 

14.05 Expert speaker

14.25 Expert speaker

14.45 Q&A 

14.55 Closing Remarks from the Chair 

15.00 Close of Event 

*The agenda is subject to change 

Our events are CPD certified. This event is equivalent to 2 CPD points.
A certificate is available on request post-event to all attendees.




Central Edinburgh, to be confirmed in due course.


Delegate rates (excluding VAT):

  • Reduced rate: 1 place £145 + VATpp (Voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m)
  • Standard rate: 1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT per place (Central government departments and agencies, local authorities, universities, colleges, NHS, police, professional associations and voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m)
  • Private Sector rate: 1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT per place (Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP)

For more information please email or phone 0131 285 1635

22 May 2019
Central Edinburgh
United Kingdom



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