Young people with learning disabilities are losing out in the classroom and suffering isolation and even exclusion from school because a flagship education policy is not working.

New figures from a survey of teachers, parents and learning disabled children themselves show "mainstreaming" disabled pupils is leaving many disadvantaged and unhappy.

Despite wide support for the policy - which sees education authorities attempting to send as many children with disabilities as possible to mainstream rather than special schools, all three key groups said it was not working for all pupils in practice.

Read more: Case study -  "I want to know Jack is thriving, not just coping"

Research carried out between February and September 2016 by the charity Enable Scotland found that only three per cent of education professionals said the policy was working for all children. While 60 per cent said it was working for some, but not all, nearly a quarter, 22 per cent said it wasn't working.

Of the parents and carers whose children attended mainstream schools, fewer than 12 per cent said their child was receiving enough support to participate in all parts of school life. This compared with 57 per cent of families whose child attended a special school, who were satisfied with the support he or she was receiving.

Meanwhile of the young people with learning disabilities surveyed, only a third (33 per cent) of those in mainstream schools felt they were getting the right support.

Enable Scotland says the report demonstrates a policy designed to include pupils is in fact excluding large numbers from an effective inclusive education.

The cause, the charity says, include shortage of resources for specialist support teachers, a lack of training for mainstream teachers on how to meet the needs of pupils in their classes with learning disabilities, and a failure to listen to families.

Read more: Case study -  "I want to know Jack is thriving, not just coping"

It says that while moving to include more pupils with learning disabilities in mainstream classes was "undoubtedly a positive step", the Scottish Government and councils have never given enough consideration to the issue of how to ensure such pupils are properly supported and included at school.

Young people told the charity they missed out on opportunities available to other pupils, while they found it difficult to make friendships with their mainstream peers. Parents said they often felt they had to fight to ensure their child was fully included.

Nick Bothwell, whose son Jack was diagnosed with autism five years ago said: "What they don't tell you when your child gets the diagnosis is you will have to learn to fight for your children. You will have to learn how to be very determined to make sure you get what is right and appropriate."

Councils are violating the 2010 Equality Act, the charity says, if children are excluded from the opportunities available to their classmates on the basis of their disability.

"Parents know about this, education staff know about this, children feel it. This begs the question: But why is it still happening?'" the report says.

Jan Savage, executive director of external affairs at Enable Scotland, said: "Children are being excluded by inclusion, but this is not about blaming schools."

It is striking how similar the views of teachers, parents and pupils are, she said. "They do not have what they need to do their best, they feel they are failing, and they feel isolated."

"Thirty years ago, many children with learning disabilities would have been seen as ineducable. We have come a long way, and the presumption that children will attend mainstream schools is a positive step. But inclusion doesn't mean treating everyone the same."

The closure of many special schools has been accompanied by councils reducing the number of specialist teachers for pupils with learning disabilities - a mistake, Ms Savage says:"There has been a systematic disinvestment in specialist teaching resources."

Enable Scotland says 22 out of 32 local authorities have cut the number of Additional Support for Learning teachers since 2009 and the number is now at its lowest level since 2007.

Meanwhile new teachers report that when they emerge from training they do not feel confident or fully equipped to teach every single child in their classroom, she says.

Read more: Case study -  "I want to know Jack is thriving, not just coping"

While Enable Scotland is calling for improvements in teacher training, better ongoing training may be the best approach, Ms Savage said.

The Scottish Government has pledged to review guidance on mainstream education next year. Enable Scotland is calling for it to address failings identified in the report, including tackling prejudices within schools, networks of support for parents with children with learning disabilities and reversing the decline in specialist support in classrooms.

tomorrow: the hidden exclusion of pupils with learning disabilities