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Access All Areas is a Children in Scotland project that has been funded by the Scottish Borders Council since 2003. The aim of the project is to consult meaningfully with a cross-section of primary and secondary pupils on the issues of accessibility, inclusion and additional support needs. What started out as a statutory duty to assess and improve physical accessibility has broadened (on the advice of children and young people) into a focus on helping schools become more educationally and socially inclusive of all their pupils.
The goal is that pupils become more aware of these concepts and share their experiences, views and ideas about where their schools need improvement, as well as how to build upon what they do well to become even more accessible and inclusive. This is inline with the Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) Act, the Curriculum for Excellence and the principles of Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC). It also helps children and young people to play a role in the development of future Scottish Borders Council accessibility strategies.
The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Education Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 requires local authorities to prepare and implement an accessibility strategy plan every three years. The purpose of the plan is to improve, over time, access to education for pupils with additional support needs. One important aspect of these strategies is that pupils themselves have a significant input; both pupils with additional support needs and those without.
The project has been running since 2003 and funding will continue until 2012.
Access All Areas
Schools the project has worked with include:
Berwickshire High, Peebles High, Galashiels High. Hawick High, Coldstream Primary, Halyrude Primary, Kingsland Primary, Swinton Primary, West Linton Primary, Caddonfoot Primary, Langlee Primary, St Peter's Primary, Lauder Primary, Broomlands Primary, Chirinside Primary, Wilton Primary, Drumlanrig Primary, Knowepark Primary and Lilliesleaf Primary.
Project Methods and Outcomes
The work is a combination of whole class sessions and small group/pairs/individual discussions. The whole class sessions focus on raising awareness of the issues of accessibility, inclusion and additional support needs, using a variety of innovative approaches. These include games, role-play, art and an activity based exercise called 'In My Shoes'. The small groups/pairs/individuals can be pupils who receive additional support or those who do not. This can typically be the Pupil Council, P7 helpers, Head Boy/Girl, playground buddies etc.
Pupils explore accessibility in their school; what works and what could be improved. Following the consultation process, two detailed reports are written outlining the pupils' views and suggesting ways theseviews can be implemented. One is shared with the staff in the school and the Scottish Borders Council. The other report is written for the pupils in the school and Children in Scotland's Participation Officer returns to the school to discuss this with them.
Since the project began, Access All Areas has tried to ensure that pupils' views also reach a wider audience.
In addition, when Scottish Borders Council was in the process of building a number of new secondary and primary schools, Access All Areas worked with the pupils who would attend these schools to find out how they thought their new schools could be made as accessible - physically, educationally and socially - as possible. Information from this was fed directly into the planning process.
Access All Areas: what children and young people think about accessibility, inclusion and additional support at school, 2007
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