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Keywords:

  • pupils;
  • disabilities;
  • access to education;
  • surveys

The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 requires local authorities to prepare and implement an accessibility strategy to improve access to education for young people with disabilities. In this article, Dr Richard Woolfson, Principal Psychologist, Michael Harker, Depute Principal Psychologist, Dorothy Lowe, Senior Psychologist, Mary Shields, Senior Psychologist, and Hilary Mackintosh, Research Assistant, all from Renfrewshire Educational Psychology Service, report the response of one local authority. Staff from the psychological service carried out a two-stage research study with children and young people. Stage One involved a postal questionnaire for 290 pupils with a range of disabilities; parents and carers were asked to assist their children with the questionnaire. Stage Two involved young people with disabilities in a number of focus groups. The results recorded here confirm that the area of greatest pupil satisfaction is physical access to the school environment. Few problems are identified regarding access to information from school and most pupils with disability consider that their opinions are listened to and respected. Other findings suggest that pupils with disability generally view their teachers as supportive, while pupils often struggle to complete homework. Further, the pupils indicated that they would like to be more closely consulted about access to the curriculum, working independently and the provision of support. Older students suggested that preparation for post-school options should start much earlier. In the light of these findings, the authors discuss recommendations for future practice and for further research.