A GUIDE FOR PARENTS
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004
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What is this leaflet about?
This leaflet is for the parents of all children and young people in Scotland's schools. 'Parents' here means anyone who has parental responsibility for a child or young person. 'Young people' here means 16 or 17 year olds who are still at school.
In October 2003, the first edition of this leaflet was produced to explain the proposed changes to the law. This second edition tells you about some important changes that will now happen in the law which will affect children's and young people's education. These changes are to benefit children and young people who need additional support in school, and their parents.
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 leaflet will be produced telling you more about the changes and how they may affect you and your children.
What are additional support needs?
Some children face barriers to learning and need additional support to make progress. It will be the duty of education authorities to give some extra help in their schools to all children and young people with additional support needs. Children and young people may need this help to assist them with reading or writing; to improve their access to the school and its facilities; or to support their learning through difficult family or other circumstances. Additional support needs can be short or long term. For instance, additional support may be needed for a child or young person who:
- is being bullied
- has behavioural or learning difficulties
- is deaf or blind
- is particularly gifted
- is bereaved
- is not a regular attender.
These are just some examples.
How will the Act make a difference?
The Act introduces new duties on education authorities that will benefit children, young people and parents.
- must make adequate and efficient provision for each child or young person with additional support needs for whose education they are responsible
- must also 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
- must make arrangements to identify additional support needs
- must publish information about provision for identifying and addressing additional support needs
- must provide those children or young people who need it with a Co-ordinated Support Plan (see below) and keep this under regular review
- must provide independent and free mediation services for all parents of children with additional support needs and publish information on these services
- must request, and take account of, information and advice from agencies likely to support the child when he/she leaves school. This must all be done at least 12 months prior to the expected school leaving date
- 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.
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 (currently 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 matters relating to Co-ordinated Support Plans
- 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 Tribunal hearings.
Young people will also have these rights on their own behalf.
- In addition, education authorities will be able to help other children and young people with additional support needs who are not in education authority schools, for example those being educated at home or who are receiving private education. This is not a duty, but parents of these children will have a right to request assessment of their child's needs and the authority may provide advice, information and help.
The Act also introduces a new duty on other bodies, such as Health Boards, to help education authorities to identify and support children's and young people's learning needs.
Scottish Ministers will issue a Code of Practice when the changes are made law. This will set out guidance on how the system is to operate and will help education authorities and others to meet their new duties. We will consult with parents' organisations and involve agencies in drawing up the Code.
What help will there be for children and young people with the most complex needs?
The education authority will have to prepare a new Co-ordinated Support Plan for these children (aged 3 and above) and young people. This will co-ordinate the support for those with additional support needs, arising from complex or multiple factors, who need a range of support from different services. Co-ordination of the services is required where the education authority needs help from others both within the local authority itself, such as social work, or from outside agencies, such as health. That is what the Plan is for. The views of the child or young person and the parents will be taken into account when a Plan is prepared and their final comments will be noted in the Plan.
What is in the Co-ordinated Support Plan?
The Co-ordinated Support Plan must contain:
- a description of why the child or young person has additional support needs
- educational objectives the child or young person will be supported to achieve
- the support required to help the child or young person achieve those objectives
- who will provide this support
- the name of the child's or young person's school
- the name of a contact person within the education authority to provide advice and information to parents
- the name of the person who will co-ordinate the support from the different services.
Importantly, the Co-ordinated Support Plan will set the aims for what the child should learn and will build on the child's strengths.
If my child has a Record of Needs, how will this be affected?
It will take time to change over to the new system. When it is in place the Record of Needs will not be used any more. Children with Records of Needs will be assumed to have additional support needs and will be considered to see whether they will need a Co-ordinated Support Plan. There will be a duty on education authorities to ensure that the provision made for those with a Record of Needs is not reduced before the 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.
How will the Act be implemented?
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.
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 for parents as the implementation progresses. A newsletter will be produced regularly and another leaflet like this one will be issued when the changes happen.
Where can I find more information?
For more advice and information about the Act, please contact the Enquire Helpline on: 0845 123 2303.
Textphone: 0131 22 22 439
The Act is available from http://www.scotland-legislation.hmso.gov.uk/legislation/scotland/acts2004/20040004.htm
or Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Tel 0870 606 5566
This leaflet will be produced in alternative formats, please telephone 0131 244 4914 for further details. This leaflet will also be available in community languages from the Scottish Executive website. If you do not have access to the internet, please telephone the number above, and we will arrange for a copy to be sent to you.