Ability as an Additional Support Need: Scotland’s Inclusive Approach to Gifted Education

  • Margaret Sutherland
  • Niamh Stack
Keywords: inclusion, rights-based models, gifted education, Curriculum for Excellence, social justice


The present paper provides an overview of the current national legislation, policies, curriculum and practice relating to gifted education within Scotland. It begins by providing an overview of the national context and historical background that, to this day, underpin the egalitarian ethos that permeates Scottish education. We discuss how historical, philosophical and political narratives that are firmly rooted in the belief that education is a right for all foreshadow Scotland’s approach to “gifted education”. The legislative shift within Scotland from a “needs-based” model to a “rights-based” model, coupled with our inclusive approach to education for all, has important implications and provides potential opportunities for gifted young people. The strengths and limitations of this approach are debated within the paper. Rhetoric and reality can, however, be unfamiliar strangers; the paper therefore also aims to demonstrate how legislative intention and pedagogical ideals have been put into practice within Scottish schools in order to meet the needs of gifted young Scots. We conclude by discussing the challenges that remain and the implications for the future, both within and beyond Scotland.


Download data is not yet available.


Devine, T. M. (1999). The Scottish nation, 1700-2000? London: Allen Lane.

Donaldson, G. (2013). Teaching Scotland’s Future . Retrieved 3 April 2014 from http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/01/13092132/6

Florian, L. (2008). Special or inclusive education: future trends. British Journal of Special Education, 35(4), 202-208.

Groundwater-Smith, S. (2007). Questions of quality in practitioner research. In P. Ponte & B. H. Smit (Eds.), The Quality of Practitioner Research: reflections on the position of the researcher and the researched. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Head, G., & Pirrie, A. (2007). The place of special schools in a policy climate of inclusion. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 7(2), 90-96.

Head, G. (2011). Inclusion and Pedagogy. In M. McMahon, C. Forde, & M. Martin (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Learning and Teaching. London: SAGE Publications.

McCulloch, M. (2011). Interprofessional Approaches to Practice. In M. McMahon, C. Forde, & M. Martin (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Learning and Teaching. London: SAGE Publications.

Mooney, G., & Scott, G. (Eds.) (2005). Exploring social policy in the ‘new’ Scotland. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Moutious, S. (2009). International organisations and transnational education. Compare, 39(4), 469-481.

National Records of Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk

Riddell, S. (2009). Social justice, equality and inclusion in Scottish education. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 30(3), 283-296.

Priestley, M., & Humes, W. (2010) The development of Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence: amnesia and déjà vu. Oxford Review of Education, 36(3), 345-361.

Sapon-Shevin, M. (2000). Gifted education. In D. A. Gabbard (Ed.), Knowledge and power in the global economy. Politics and the rhetoric of school reform. Mawah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action London: Temple Smith

Scottish Executive. (2004). A Curriculum for Excellence: the curriculum review group. Edinburgh: HMSO.

Scottish Executive. (2006). Building the Curriculum 1: the contribution of curriculum areas. Edinburgh: HMSO.

Scottish Executive. (2007). Building the Curriculum 2: active learning in the early years. Edinburgh: HMSO.

Scottish Government. (2000). The Standards In Scotland’s Schools etc (Scotland) (2000) Act.

Scottish Government. (2004). The Additional Support for Learning (Scotland) (2004, 2009) Act.

Scottish Government. (2010). Teaching Scotland’s Future.

Smith, C. M. M. (2006). Principles of inclusion: implications for able learners. In C. M. M. Smith (Ed.), Including the Gifted and Talented: Making inclusion work for more gifted and able learners. London: Routledge.

UNESCO. (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 30 October 2010 from www.unesco.org