Summary Handout on the Additional Support for Learning Act
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Who is this handout for?
If your work or interests relate to children and young people then the information in this handout is for you. You might be a teacher, a classroom assistant, an educational psychologist, a nursery nurse, a childcare worker, a school nurse, a paediatrician, a health visitor, a social worker or social work assistant, a family support worker, an allied health professional, a mental health link worker, a further education lecturer, a careers advisor or a worker for one of the many voluntary organisations supporting children and families.
This second edition of the summary handout replaces the first edition which was produced in October 2003. It tells you about some important changes in the law which aim to modernise and improve the current system for identifying and addressing the needs of all children and young people who may face a barrier to learning and need additional support.
The changes in the law will happen late next year. New legislation called the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, has been passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Act does not become law until it is commenced. This is to allow everyone to prepare for the new duties in the Act. It is likely that the Act will be commenced in autumn 2005. Another handout, like this one, will be produced then telling you more about the changes and how these may affect your work.
Among other things, the Act will remove the Record of Needs system, including the formal Future Needs Assessment. However, until the changes become law the current system will remain in place.
What will the key changes be?
- the new concept of 'additional support needs' which is much wider and more encompassing than 'special educational needs'
- new duties on education authorities and others
- more rights for parents
- new independent mediation services for all parents of children with additional support needs
- new dispute resolution arrangements for parents, in addition to mediation
- a new Code of Practice which will set out how the new system will operate
- better planning and preparation for transition to post-school life
- removing the current Record of Needs and introducing the new Co-ordinated Support Plan (see below), for those who need it
- new independent family-friendly Tribunals to hear appeals on a range of issues relating to Co-ordinated Support Plans.
The new term 'additional support needs'
The definition of 'special educational needs' traditionally only applies to children and young people with particular types of learning needs. The new concept of 'additional support needs' refers to any child or young person who, for whatever reason, requires additional support for learning. Additional support needs can arise from any factor which causes a barrier to learning, whether that factor relates to social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, disability, or family and care circumstances. For instance, additional support may be required for a child or young person who is being bullied; has behavioural difficulties; has learning difficulties; is a parent; has a sensory or mobility impairment; is at risk; or is bereaved.
There will be many other examples besides these. Some additional support needs will be long term while others will be short term. The effect they have will vary from child to child. In all cases though, it is how these factors impact on the individual child's learning that is important and this will determine the level of support required.
New duties on education authorities and others
Education authorities must
- make adequate and efficient provision for each child or young person with additional support needs, for whose education they are responsible
- keep under consideration the needs and the adequacy of support for each child or young person with additional support needs
- take account of additional support needs of children in providing school education generally
- provide appropriate additional support for disabled children under 3 (or under 5 if not in a public or partnership nursery), where the child has been referred by a health authority and has additional support needs
- put in place arrangements to identify additional support needs and to consider if a child requires a Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP)
- meet requests from parents and act on referrals from others (unless unreasonable) to identify a child's additional support needs or establish if they require a CSP
- prepare a CSP if it is established that a child or young person requires one
- when preparing or reviewing a CSP, tell parents about this, inform them of the outcome and of their rights of appeal, and provide them with a copy of the Plan
- seek and take account of advice and information (including formal assessments) from other agencies (eg health, social work services)
- seek and take account of views of the child and their parents, and any information they may provide, such as an independent assessment report
- keep under consideration the adequacy of each CSP and formally review each CSP at least every 12 months, making appropriate adjustments
- review a CSP earlier than 12 months if there has been a significant change in the child's circumstances or if parents request this (unless the request is unreasonable)
- publish their policy and arrangements for identifying and addressing additional support needs, what the role and rights of parents and children are and whom parents should contact to obtain information and advice
- provide independent mediation services for all parents of children with additional support needs and publish information on these services
- request, and take account of, information and advice from agencies likely to support the child when he or she leaves school in providing adequate additional support in the period up to leaving school. This must all be done at least 12 months prior to the expected school leaving date
- provide information to whichever agencies will be responsible for supporting the young person once they leave school, including FE Colleges, if the young person agrees. This must be at least 6 months before the young person leaves school to allow preparation and planning with other agencies for a continuum of support
- ensure that the provision made for those with a Record of Needs is not reduced before consideration for a Co-ordinated Support Plan has taken place (unless there is a significant change in the needs of the child or young person).
- Other agencies have duties to help each education authority discharge its duties under this Act unless the request for help is incompatible with the agency's duties or unduly prejudices the agency in its discharge of its own functions. For the purposes of the Act other agencies include any other local authority, any Health Board or any other agency specified by the Scottish Ministers, which may include, for example, Careers Scotland and FE Colleges. Each local authority's social work services are considered to be another agency for the purposes of the Act
- In addition, education authorities will have power to help children with additional support needs who are not in the public education system (other than disabled children under 5 referred to them - there is a duty towards those children). For children not yet old enough for school or nursery, this will be whatever type of learning support and advice is appropriate for that child
- Scottish Ministers are enabled to oblige education authorities to put in place dispute resolution arrangements to be specified in Regulations
- Ministers will make provisions (by Regulations) for when there are transitions between schools, to ensure that information about children with additional support needs is forwarded in good time to the next school.
New rights for parents
- Parents will have new rights to:
- request the education authority to find out whether their child has additional support needs
- request the education authority to find out whether their child needs a Co-ordinated Support Plan or to review an existing plan
- request a specific type of assessment and/or examination
- request the use of mediation services
- make a placing request to an independent special school if their child has additional support needs (at present only those with a Record of Needs can do this)
- be informed of the outcome of these requests and any applicable rights of appeal
- receive a copy of the Co-ordinated Support Plan or, if not eligible for a Plan, receive advice and information about their child's additional support needs
- have their views taken into account and noted in the Co-ordinated Support Plan
- appeal to new independent Tribunals on decisions by the education authority to prepare or not to prepare a Co-ordinated Support Plan, the time being taken to prepare or review a Plan, the information in the Plan, including the support to be provided, and a refusal to review a Plan
- make use of dispute resolution arrangements for matters about additional support needs that are not eligible for formal appeal
- have a supporter or representative with them at any meeting with the school or education authority and at hearings of the Tribunals.
Young people (16 and 17 years old who are still at school) will have all the same rights as parents.
A new independent mediation service
All education authorities will have to provide an independent mediation service free of charge to parents of children and young people with additional support needs in their area. Education authorities will have the flexibility to purchase services from national or UK organisations or local voluntary sector organisations or to provide the service directly. Mediators employed by the education authority cannot be involved in any way in providing education services or in decisions relating to education provision.
The aim of mediation is to facilitate more constructive dialogue between parents and the school or education authority to help reach agreement. This will be an optional service for parents. It is voluntary and will not affect their right to appeal, nor the outcome of that appeal.
A new dispute resolution service
The Act enables Scottish Ministers to require education authorities to provide dispute resolution, as well as mediation, to further facilitate resolution for parents on matters other than those involving the formal appeal routes. The details of dispute resolution are being developed but it will aim to address concerns of parents whose child does not have a Co-ordinated Support Plan, but who does have additional support needs.
A new Code of Practice
Rather than guidance, a Code of Practice will be issued. The Act sets out the key topics to be included in the Code. The Code of Practice will be developed in collaboration with service users and providers. It will set minimum standards and will aim to promote more and better joint-planning and partnership working among agencies, and consistency across Scotland. Preparations for the development of the Code of Practice are already underway. We have set up an Additional Support Needs Advisory Group with representatives from parents, education, health and social work agencies, the voluntary sector, post-school and training providers and racial equality interests.
Better planning and preparation for post-school
Instead of the formal Future Needs Assessment process, currently for those young people with a Record of Needs, there will be a more person-centred system to provide for all the young people who may need extra support on leaving school. The aim is to provide for a continuum of support that ensures the young person's interests are given greater consideration.
Planning and preparing a young person for post-school life will involve any agency that will become responsible for supporting the young person once he or she leaves school. This could be input from a social worker, an occupational therapist or from Careers Scotland or a Further Education college, for example. The education authority must also obtain information about the provision other agencies plan to make for the needs of the young person once they have left school, and plan accordingly to prepare the young person and to support the transition to these other services. The emphasis is on co-operation among all parties concerned, to ensure these transitions are as smooth as possible. This must all be done at least 12 months before the young person is expected to leave school.
In addition, education authorities must provide information to whichever agencies will be responsible for supporting the young person once they leave school, including Further Education Colleges, if the young person agrees. This must be at least 6 months before the young person leaves school to allow preparation and planning with other agencies for a continuum of support.
The new Co-ordinated Support Plan
This will be a statutory planning document for children and young people with enduring complex or multiple barriers to learning who need a range of additional support from different services. Co-ordination of the services is required where the education authority needs help from others both within the authority itself, such as social work, or from outside agencies, such as health. It will plan long term and strategically for the achievement of learning outcomes, rather than focusing on deficits and weaknesses, as the Record of Needs does.
- The Co-ordinated Support Plan must contain:
- the reasons for the individual's additional support needs
- details of the educational objectives
- details of the additional support required to achieve the objectives and who will provide it
- details of the person responsible for co-ordinating the Plan
- details of the person parents can contact for information and advice
- the name of the child's or young person's school.
Everyone involved in supporting the child's or young person's learning needs will have the opportunity to be involved in drawing up the Plan, reviewing it and making provision. The education authority will have responsibility for the Co-ordinated Support Plan and for ensuring the co-ordination of the support detailed in it. However, the co-ordinator role (the person who will manage the day-to-day implementation) can be delegated to an individual outside education if he or she is more appropriate for the child or young person, such as a health worker or social worker who may have involvement with the wider family.
New Additional Support Needs Tribunals
The new Tribunals will be independent and will have an expertise that will equip them to hear appeals relating to children and young people who have complex needs. The Tribunals will be designed to operate in a user-friendly way and will aim to be less intimidating for parents and children than a more traditional court setting. Legal aid will be available, to those who qualify, for legal advice before and after a Tribunal hearing but not during a hearing. The Tribunals will be able to consider aspects relating to Co-ordinated Support Plans, including provision, and will be able to direct education authorities to take action to prepare, review or close a Co-ordinated Support Plan or to amend the contents. Ultimate responsibility for the Co-ordinated Support Plan lies with education authorities. Where a Tribunal has directed an education authority to amend the content of a plan, other agencies will have a duty to assist education authorities in implementing the changed plan.
What happens next?
There is much work to be done before the changes in the Act can become law. The Additional Support Needs Tribunals need to be set up, mediation services put in place, the Code of Practice and the Regulations (which make detailed additional law for certain sections within the Act) must be written and consulted upon.
Staff within the Scottish Executive's Additional Support Needs Division will take forward the work required to prepare for implementation, supported by development officers on secondment from local authorities. They will be supported by an Additional Support Needs Advisory Group. This group has representation from parents, education, health and social work agencies, the voluntary sector and representatives from post-school and training providers and racial equality interests. They will advise on the development of the Code of Practice and other operational aspects of implementation. Stakeholders, including parents' and children and young people's groups, will be consulted on the draft Code, which will also be available from the Scottish Executive website.
It is our intention to continue to publish information as the implementation progresses. A newsletter will be produced regularly and another summary handout will be issued when the changes happen.
If you have any questions about the Act, or information provided in the Summary Handout, please email or telephone Michael at the address below.
If you require a copy of the Act it can be obtained from the Her Majesty's Stationery Office website at http://www.scotland-legislation.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2004/20040004.htm or Her Majesty's Stationery Office Bookshop, Tel 0870 606 5566
If you would like more copies of this Summary Handout to pass on to colleagues they can be obtained at http://www.scotland.gov.uk or by contacting
Additional Support Needs Division
Scottish Executive Education Department
Area 3 B North
Tel: 0131 244 4914
Fax: 0131 244 7493
In addition, a Guide for Parents about the Act has been widely distributed throughout Scotland. Copies are available from Michael at the above address.
Scottish Executive Education Department
Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
Special Educational Needs
- Special Educational Needs framework (probably 20% pupils with special educational needs)
- No legislative requirement to identify, assess and meet requirements other than for the small number (about 2%) with a Record of Needs, though education authorities must provide generally for special educational needs
- Also general duty under section 2 of Standards in Scotland's Schools etc Act 2000.
Additional Support Needs
- Additional Support Needs defined as all learning support needs, not just special educational needs
- Duty on education authorities to identify and take steps to address support needs for the learning of all children (for whom they provide education either directly or indirectly)
- Parents able to request particular type of assessment, but not from a particular individual
- Duty to publish local policy, arrangements for identifying additional support needs and provision to address needs (Regulations will set minimum expected)
- Duty on other agencies to help
- Power for education authorities to assist with identification and support meeting the additional support needs of children outside public system (i.e. for those in independent sector, home educated, below age 3)
- Parents of children outwith public system have right to request the education authority to appraise child for additional support needs and for Co-ordinated Support Plan
- Education authority must provide advice and information
- Independent schools have right to request education authority to consider child's needs for Co-ordinated Support Plan.
Children with other needs
- Various and disparate policies, legislative provision and intervention systems, for example, Looked after children, disabled children, Gypsy or Traveller children, English as Additional Language, refugees, gifted children, behavioural difficulties, children at risk, being bullied, young parents, and so on.
Record of Needs
- Aimed at those with pronounced, specific or complex special educational needs- roughly 2% of pupils, though rates vary considerably across education
- Use staged intervention process (set out in guidance) to get to Record of Needs.
- Certain assessments compulsory
- Lengthy process. Record of Needs kept confidential, not shared sufficiently
- Available to all children from age 2 onwards until leaving school
- Education authority may open and maintain a Record for child outwith public system but under no obligation to make provision.
Co-ordinated Support Plan
- Remove Record of Needs and introduce Co-ordinated Support Plan for children with long term significant learning needs that require support services from outwith education
- Co-ordinated Support Plans will directly link additional support with expected learning outcomes
- Repeal need for compulsory educational, medical and psychological assessments - target only where needed. Parents will have right to request particular type of assessment
- Parents to be informed of proposals for considering child for Co-ordinated Support Plan, the outcome and their appeal rights and must get a copy of the Plan
- Co-ordinated Support Plans will be for children in public funded provision and will be for those age 3 upwards
- Duty on education authority to specifically co-ordinate support to be provided as detailed in the Plan and to name person who will manage the co-ordination
- Code of Practice will replace staged intervention process with minimum standards on local arrangements and will aim for a framework relevant for the whole child across all sectors.
No conflict resolution
- No requirement to offer mediation service to resolve disputes.
Mediation service and Dispute Resolution
- Independent mediation service to be provided free of charge by education authority for all disputes with parents of pupils with additional support needs
- Mediation not compulsory on either party
- Education authority to provide dispute resolution, as well as mediation, to further facilitate resolution for parents on matters not for formal appeal routes.
- Go to Education Authority Appeal Committee, Scottish Ministers or Sheriff Court depending on nature of appeal
- Only certain parts of Record can be appealed. No right of appeal about provision.
Additional Support Needs Tribunals
- Set up new independent Additional Support Needs Tribunals to hear appeals relating to Co-ordinated Support Plans - appeals to get Co-ordinated Support Plan, review it and appeal any part, including provision and refused placing requests
- (Appeals on refused placing request where no Co-ordinated Support Plan, will continue to go to Education Authority Appeal Committee)
- Legal aid available (to those who qualify) for legal advice before and after a Tribunal hearing but not for legal representation at a hearing
- Parents can have supporter/advocate/representative attend with them
- Jurisdiction to be on education authorities as lead agency responsible for Co-ordinated Support Plan. Other agencies to assist, where appeal relates to their provision.
Parent support / involvement
- Information on process to get a Record has to be provided to parents
- Parents have right to be accompanied by a single 'named person' (approved by the education authority) at meetings about Record of Needs
- Can request child be considered for Record (so statutory assessments). No formal right to request special educational needs be assessed.
- Will promote in Code of Practice parents' role in education of child. Parents should be seen as equal partner
- Identified official to act as contact person, for all parents, to advise on system
- Information on policies and arrangements for additional support for learning to be provided to all parents in an authority in understandable format
- In Co-ordinated Support Plan, official also to be named to liaise with parents
- Parents able to have any supporter, including a representative from an advocacy agency, with them at any meetings
- Parents able to request child's additional support needs be appraised, and also to be appraised for Co-ordinated Support Plan. Right to request particular type of assessment such as medical or psychological. Education authority must inform them of outcome.
Future Needs Assessment
- Required for those with a Record, some time between 2 years and 9 months prior to age 16
- Involves formal statutory assessments, formal meeting and report
- Future Needs Assessments provided to a few young people with special educational needs but without Record, but practice varies considerably across authorities.
Preparing for post-school
- Future Needs Assessment to cease. Education authority must get information about provision other agencies will make for young person once he or she has left school. Must take account of this when planning support to be provided in period prior to leaving school
- This all must be done at least 12 months before young person leaves school
- Formal assessments only where necessary
- Will be for all those with a Co-ordinated Support Plan plus all others with continuing additional support needs who would benefit
- Must also provide information to supporting agencies at least 6 months prior to young person leaving school.
- Level of involvement of children with special educational needs varies across country
- Education authorities do have general duty to have regard to children's views, as do parents.
- Promote through Code of Practice involvement of children with additional support needs in decision-making processes and support their needs to enable their involvement
- The views of the child will be recorded in the Co-ordinated Support Plan.
- Code of Practice to state child should play key part and should have supporter available
- Expect children to attend or have opportunity to put their views to Tribunals.