Margaret Mitchell MSP

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Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

The motion highlights the need for greater support for pupils who have hugely varied additional support needs. The failure to ensure that that support is available cannot be in doubt, given, for example, the experience of dyslexic pupils. As convener of the cross-party group on dyslexia, I pay tribute to the superb work that is done by its members, who are a diverse and accomplished group with a wealth of experience of dyslexia. Among other things, through the efforts of the group’s members and Dyslexia Scotland, a dyslexia toolkit has been developed and a definition has been established that has been approved by the Scottish Government.

It is almost 10 years since the CPG on dyslexia came into existence and it is nothing short of a scandal that, during that time, the same obstacles have continued to prevail for ASN pupils who are seeking diagnosis and assessment and trying to secure the necessary support. Analysis of those obstacles reveals some common themes, starting with the discrepancies within, as well as among, local authorities. That has resulted in a school postcode lottery for ASN pupils who are seeking appropriate support. Furthermore, the situation is unlikely to improve when, as Liz Smith pointed out, schools are currently answerable and accountable to, first and foremost, local government and national Government, rather than to the parents and pupils who are best placed to comment.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Any dyslexia-friendly school is of course welcome, but let us look in a little bit more detail at what is happening with the additional funding that the cabinet secretary mentioned.

Not surprisingly, the CPG on dyslexia continues to hear about cases of parents who have reason to believe that their child is dyslexic having to fight to convince the school that an assessment is essential.

Educational psychologists carry out the assessments, but with ever-increasing demands on their time, it is, sadly, not uncommon for parents to have to pay for an independent assessment for their child, who should have been tested in school. That definitely raises equality issues in respect of parents’ ability to pay for independent assessments, and is just one concrete area of education policy that the Scottish Government could address to mitigate inequality.

Instead, the cabinet secretary’s “Nothing to do with me, guv” response to the problem has been to glibly state the self-evident fact that education authorities have a responsibility to have an educational psychology service and to prioritise and manage the service in the light of local circumstances and priorities. I am sure that that has inspired and reassured the many anxious parents and pupils who are fighting for assessments.

I hope that the cabinet secretary will take on board the findings and recommendations of Education Scotland’s independent review, which the Scottish Government commissioned in order to assess the experience of dyslexic learners and pupils with additional support needs in primary, secondary and special schools in Scotland. The CPG has welcomed the report’s conclusion, which it considers accurately—if depressingly—lists the inconsistencies in policies and practices across and within local authorities. For example, the report found, in looking at two schools that are just a few miles apart, that one took an excellent approach in its response to a potentially dyslexic child while the other’s approach was totally inadequate.

More encouragingly, the report states that there has been a significant increase in training on dyslexia at the initial teacher training stage. However, it also confirms that a staggering 24 per cent of primary schools in Scotland are not aware of the dyslexia toolkit that was designed specifically to help teachers and others who are seeking more information about dyslexia. Unbelievably, some local authorities are still trying to agree on a definition of dyslexia, despite a definition having been agreed by the Scottish Government in January 2009.

The report also states that many more pupils are identified as dyslexic in secondary school than are identified in primary school. Consequently, many primary school pupils are being denied early intervention and appropriate support, which could have a life-long adverse impact on them. In fact, the failure to identify dyslexic pupils at any stage of their schooling has been seen to have far-reaching consequences, so it is crucial that the Scottish Government, rather than focusing solely on literacy, recognises and addresses the wider impact in terms of the health, wellbeing, self-esteem, confidence, ambition and aspirations of those pupils.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

The Scottish Government continues to assert that it is committed to preventative spend. If that really is the case, it must ensure that early identification assessment and support of young people with additional support needs is sufficiently resourced. Those young people deserve and have a right to expect nothing less.

15:48  

Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Clearly, the cabinet secretary was not listening to the main point of my speech, which concerned dyslexic children who are not getting assessments and are not being identified, mainly due to a lack of educational psychologists. He has washed his hands of that, completely. That is an issue that he could do something positive about in order to help to address inequality, which he says he is passionate about.



Meeting of the Parliament 29 October 2014 : Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

I commend Michael McMahon for lodging a motion to mark 10 years since the Rosepark care home fire in Uddingston. I live close to Rosepark and I vividly remember the shock and horror that victims’ relatives and the local community felt at the nature and scale of the tragedy. As Michael McMahon said, the fatal accident inquiry established that the tragic loss of 14 care home residents’ lives could have been prevented if suitable measures had been taken. Ten years on, it is appropriate to consider whether sufficient requirements are placed on care homes, to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.

I welcome the new guidance, which was issued in March by the Scottish Government and which aims to assist those who have responsibility under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 for ensuring that fire safety duties in care homes are fulfilled. Although it is helpful that, following feedback from a public consultation, the Government edited the guidance to make it more user friendly, the issue of third-party certification for fire safety products and advice is still likely to cause confusion.

The guidance states:

“Fire protection products should be fit for their purpose and properly installed and maintained, while installation and maintenance contractors should be competent.”

It goes on to say that, where possible, a reputable third-party certification body that has been accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service should independently check that standards are being met, although that is not a requirement. In addition to UKAS, there are numerous professional bodies that operate registration schemes for fire prevention officers and fire safety consultants. However, it would surely be simpler to have one authority with an approved list of fire safety consultants, as that would also decrease the opportunities for rogue consultants.

Nonetheless, it is reassuring to see that lessons have been learned since the Rosepark fire. Furthermore, other care home fires—even this year—show that fire safety awareness in care homes has improved. For example, on 28 July a fire broke out in Foxley house care home in Glasgow. Twenty firefighters were required to attend the scene, but the 22 residents and three staff members who were present escaped mostly unharmed, with only one resident taken to hospital with minor injuries sustained due to a fall.

The fire door safety week campaign, which ran this September, has highlighted the importance of fire doors in care homes across Britain. Although the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service runs successful campaigns during the festive period each year, I welcome the suggestion in the motion that there be a targeted campaign for care home owners, managers and duty holders.

The fire at the Rosepark care home in Uddingston 10 years ago was a tragedy and, although fire safety in care homes has improved as a result, the preventable loss of life will continue to affect the relatives. It is only by ensuring that fire risk assessments are adequately undertaken and guidance adhered to that a future tragedy like that one will be prevented. It is, therefore, to be hoped that today’s debate not only will help to raise awareness of this vital issue but will ensure that it remains the subject of the public’s consciousness and scrutiny.

17:18  

Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Margaret Mitchell (Central Scotland) (Con)

Could the panel comment on the variation and inconsistency in how capacity is defined in the bill and how it is defined in other legislation? The Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society in particular made submissions on that.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

I suppose that the difficulty for us is that, as the Justice Committee, we are looking only at what can be put down legally without really going into the medical consequences. The depression might be short term in nature but would still be termed a mental health issue. A person might have a reversal in how they feel about something at another time. That goes to the heart of this particular provision.

I return to the 14-day time limit between the issue of a prescription and the act of suicide, if I have understood that properly. A number of submissions expressed concern about that. It was felt that it might be too short a time limit and that there might be pressure on the individual. In Oregon, figures associated with the Death With Dignity Act 1995 show that just over a third of people who initially get prescriptions change their mind and choose to extend their life. Do panel members have any comments on that? I know that there is a three-stage process. I am talking about the very last hurdle.



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

If no one else wants to come in, let us return to licensed facilitators. Should there be a definition of those, or the function performed by them, in the bill?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

Does anyone else want to comment on that?



Justice Committee 28 October 2014 : Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Margaret Mitchell

That was my next question, convener.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11332.2 Jenny Marra: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
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Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11332.1 Gavin Brown: Supported Business—As an amendment to motion S4M-11332 in the name of Fergu
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11332 Fergus Ewing: Supported Business—That the Parliament recognises the economic and social va
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Not VotedCarried

S4M-11304.3 Michael Russell: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—As an amendment to mo
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NoCarried

S4M-11304 Liz Smith: Addressing the Attainment Gap in Scottish Schools—That the Parliament believes
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NoCarried

S4M-11123 Joe FitzPatrick on behalf of the Parliamentary Bureau: Business Motion—That the Parliament
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NoCarried

S4M-11114.2 Kenny MacAskill: Policing—As an amendment to motion S4M-11114 in the name of Graeme Pear
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NoCarried

S4M-11114 Graeme Pearson: Policing—That the Parliament acknowledges that policing in Scotland contin
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1.1 Patrick Harvie: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to amendment S4M-11116.1 in the name
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NoCarried

S4M-11116.1 Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland’s Future—As an amendment to motion S4M-11116 in the name of Jo
>> Show more
NoCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-11376: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 31/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11313: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 27/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11178: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 10/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-11114.1: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 07/10/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10824: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10823: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 18/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10804: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 14/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10649: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 23/07/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10497: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 26/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-10460: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/06/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Margaret Mitchell
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S4W-22936: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 24/10/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03595: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 29/09/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22466: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 22/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22226: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22227: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-22228: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 01/08/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21815: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21812: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 17/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4O-03329: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>
Question S4W-21608: Margaret Mitchell, Central Scotland, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Date Lodged: 04/06/2014 Show Full Question >>

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