Social justice and provision for children with additional support needs in Scotland

Sheila Riddell, Elisabet Weedon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Since the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, successive administrations have reaffirmed their commitment to social justice. However, despite high level equality policies, social class inequality is a major feature of Scottish society, affecting all social policy domains including education (Commission on Widening Access, 2016). In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the development of support for children with learning difficulties and disabilities within the context of Scottish comprehensive schooling. We then consider the way in which ideas of social justice are reflected in education for learners with additional support needs (ASN), whose numbers have expanded over recent years and who are particularly likely to live in the most deprived parts of Scotland. Using family case studies, we explore the experiences of families from different social backgrounds whose children have been identified as having ASN. The data suggest that children living in deprived areas experience cumulative disadvantage, attracting stigmatising labels without the benefit of extra resources necessary to improve educational outcomes. By way of contrast, those from more advantaged areas are generally more successful in avoiding stigmatising labels whilst ensuring that facilitating resources are in place. Findings are discussed within Fraser’s three dimensional framework of social justice, encompassing distribution, recognition and representation (Fraser, 2005).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-48
Number of pages13
JournalEducation, Citizenship and Social Justice
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • social justice
  • additional support needs
  • Scotland


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