The impact of COVID-19 on children with additional support needs and disabilities in Scotland

Fiona Couper-Kenney*, Sheila Riddell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Recently, as a result of international treaties and domestic legislation, children’s rights have moved to centre stage. In Scotland, under the terms of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016, those with additional support needs and disabilities (ASND) enjoy enhanced and legally enforceable rights, described by the Scottish Government as the most progressive children’s rights regime in Europe. This paper assesses the extent to which children’s rights have been prioritised during the COVID-19 crisis. Evidence is drawn from a qualitative study of the experiences of 16 families including a child with ASND during June and July 2020. We conclude that, particularly in the early days of the lockdown, scant regard was paid to the rights of children with ASND as education and care services were suddenly withdrawn. Existing inequalities were exacerbated, such as unequal access to IT, varying levels of support and differences in family resources. Families also reported some positive experiences, such as enjoying more time together and a release from school-generated stress. The paper concludes by arguing that the hiatus in educational provision is likely to have a negative impact on the educational progress and wellbeing of children with ASND, which will take determined efforts to rectify in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-34
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Special Needs Education
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • child rights
  • disability rights
  • pandemic education
  • quarantine school
  • Scotland


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