Supporting Autistic Learners in Scotland

This event will examine the key challenges to supporting learners on the autism spectrum to ensure they can reach their potential and thrive within mainstream education.

Inclusion as a right

In October 2018, Scottish Autism, in partnership with Children in Scotland and The National Autistic Society Scotland, published 'Not included, not engaged, not involved' which highlighted the stark numbers of learners with autism who are unlawfully excluded from schools.

All children have the right to education; however, this report highlights that those with autism are disproportionally facing exclusion, limited support for alternative schooling arrangements and experiencing negative personal impacts.

In March 2018, Scottish Government published a refreshed Strategy for Autism, which outlined ambitions to raise teachers’ understanding of autism as a means to improving attainment and support. So how can we make this a reality and give teachers the skills they need to ensure that mainstreaming truly works for all?

Join us as we examine the legal, professional and personal factors that shape educational experiences for children with autism. Sessions will scrutinise how we can balance the rights of the children with the responsibilities of the school, minimise exclusions and ensure that autistic children can always reach their full potential.

Key issues we’ll examine with you

  • The refreshed Strategy for Autism
  • Equipping teachers with better skills and understanding of autism
  • Rights and responsibilities in cases of exclusion
  • Experiences of children with autism in Scotland
  • Giving learners and parents a voice


9:15 Registration and Refreshments

9:45 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair

Jennifer Barr, Senior Solicitor - Education Law Unit, Govan Law Centre

09:50 Session 1: Policy and Context

  • The refreshed Strategy for Autism
  • Experiences of children with autism in Scotland
  • Barriers and priorities for mainstreaming

Charlene Tait, Deputy CEO, Scottish Autism

Nick Ward, National Director, The National Autistic Society Scotland

Steve Billingham, Non-MSP Member of the Cross-Party Group on Autism, Scottish Parliament

11:00 Questions and Discussion

11:10 Refreshment Break

11:40 Session 2: Nurturing Autistic Learners

11:40 Emotional Injuries - The Hidden Harms of Inclusion

Looks at research on emotional wellbeing in autistic learners and then how we can prevent trauma-related experiences as reported by many autistic learners from hidden harms of inclusion.

Dr Anna Robinson, Lecturer in Autism, University of Strathclyde

12:10 Getting Into the Habit – Personalising Support for Neurodiverse Learners

Looks at theory on habits and paradigms in context of nurturing autistic learners then explores the knowledge and skills needed to create a fresh way of looking at ourselves in relation to how we support.

Billy Anderson, Personalisation Manager, The Donaldson Trust
Louise Storie, Training Manager, The Donaldson Trust

12:40 Questions and Discussion

13:00 Lunch and Networking

13:30 Session 3: Reducing Exclusions

13:30 Children’s Rights in Education

A discussion of children’s rights in education, statutory duties upon the Education Authority to uphold these rights and circumstances, such as exclusions, restraint and lack of educational provision, when these rights are not met.

Jennifer Barr, Senior Solicitor - Education Law Unit, Govan Law Centre

14:00 Creating an Autism Friendly Environment

Insight into how we create an autism friendly environment by

  • Working together
  • Creating routines and structures
  • Building relationships
  • Remembering about sensory issues and what drives behaviour

Caroline Swinburne, Principal Teacher Department of Additional Support, Woodmill High School

14:30 Questions and Discussion

14:55 Chair’s Closing Remarks

15:00 Close of Event

*Agenda subject to change

Our events are CPD certified. This event is equivalent to 3 CPD points.
A certificate is available on request post-event to all attendees. 



COSLA, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH | Map
Delegate rates (excluding VAT):
  • Reduced rate: 1 place £145 + VAT (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 all event enquiries please email or call 0131 285 1635

12 March 2019
United Kingdom



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