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The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Acts 2004 & 2009: Consultation on Changes to the Secondary Legislation and Supporting Children's Learning Code of Practice

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Chapter 3 Meeting Additional Support Needs

Introduction

1. This chapter of the Code sets out guidance on the Act's provisions for identifying and assessing additional support needs and making provision for them. Most children and young people are educated in schools under the management of the education authority for the area to which they belong, the authority in which they reside with their parents, referred to here as the home education authority. However, there are four circumstances under which a child or young person may not be educated in a school under the management of the home education authority. The implications of these circumstances are considered detail in Chapter 4 below. Where responsibility for the school education of the child or young person rests with an education authority other than the home authority then that authority is referred to here as the host authority.

2. The guidance here is considered against a background of authorities' and agencies' evolving approaches to assessment and provision. In particular, it reflects the values and principles to be found in Curriculum for Excellence and the development of the national programme Getting it right for every child involving those working with children and young people across all agencies. It also draws on the definition of assessment to be found in the national programme and considers the role of agencies outwith education, such as NHS Boards and social work services, in supporting children with additional support needs.

Curriculum for Excellence

3. Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve a transformation in school education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible curriculum from 3-18. The curriculum comprises the totality of experiences which are planned for children and young people wherever they are being educated. Children and young people are entitled to experience:

  • a coherent curriculum from 3 to 18
  • a broad general education, including the experiences and outcomes well planned across all the curriculum areas, from early years through to S3
  • a senior phase of education after S3 which provides opportunity to obtain qualifications as well as to continue to develop the four capacities
  • opportunities for developing skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work with a continuous focus on literacy, numeracy, and health and wellbeing
  • personal support to enable them to gain as much as possible from the opportunities which Curriculum for Excellence can provide
  • support in moving into positive and sustained destinations beyond school.

Getting it right for every child

4. Getting it right for every child is a national programme that aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people. In particular, it supports the Government's aspiration that:

  • our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed
  • our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens
  • we have improved life chances for children, young people and families at risk.

5. The overarching concept of Getting it right for every child is a common, coordinated approach across all agencies that supports the delivery of appropriate, proportionate and timely help to all children and young people as they need it. The national programme aims for an improved focus on meeting the needs of children and young people leading to better outcomes for them; effective collaboration among agencies leading to a more integrated approach to the way the needs of children and families are met; the removal of institutional, cultural and procedural barriers to joint working; and access to the services and support needed.

6. The diagram below illustrates the Government's aspiration that all children and young people should be successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens. A child's well-being should be considered as set out in the eight indicators: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included. Concerns noted in any of these areas should be seen as a trigger for action.

diagram

Values and principles of assessment, planning, action and review

7. Effective assessment, planning, action and review, consistent with the values and principles of Curriculum for Excellence, Getting it right for every child, the Early Years Framework 5 and the provisions of this Act, involve:

  • taking a holistic view of children or young people and their circumstances, and what they need to grow and develop and achieve their potential
  • seeking, taking account of and noting the views of children, parents and young people and involving them fully in the assessment process and in finding solutions
  • ensuring that parents, and young people, understand, and are asked to agree to, the aims of any assessment and the purposes of any action proposed
  • ensuring that assessment is an ongoing, integrated process of planning, providing for, and reviewing, services for the individual
  • adopting the least intrusive and most effective course of action affecting the lives of children, young people and families
  • taking into account issues of diversity and equality and ensuring that outcomes do not discriminate against children, young people and their families. This includes not discriminating on grounds of race, disability, gender, sexual orientation, language, culture, religion or belief, and age
  • working in partnership with, and building the capacity of, parents to secure education for their children and to promote their child's health and wellbeing, development and welfare.

Inter-agency co-operation

8. Those with additional support needs comprise a broad group of children and young people whose needs require to be identified, understood and addressed to ensure that they benefit from education. Education authorities need to play their part in ensuring that there is effective communication, collaboration and integrated assessment, planning, action and review when other agencies are involved. For example, where a child or young person is looked after away from home, there will already be involvement from social work and health staff as well as, possibly, voluntary agency staff. Similarly, where children are within the Children's Hearing System, or need to be protected from harm, the relevant agencies must work together to ensure an integrated assessment of all of the child's or young person's needs. In all circumstances there should be a clear action plan accessible to all who need to see it and a lead professional responsible for co-ordinating the action set out in the plan and for monitoring its effectiveness.

9. Other agencies too need to ensure that they engage with education. For example, in line with national guidance from the UK National Screening Committee, NHS Boards have introduced Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. In line with Hall 4 6 guidance, all children should be screened by an orthoptist in their pre-school year, between the ages of 4 and 5. It is clearly important that NHS Boards have arrangements in place for sharing information with education authorities, as necessary, about children with difficulties in hearing and/or vision which may give rise to additional support needs.

Duties on appropriate agencies

s23

10. The Act promotes integrated working across agencies, in assessment, intervention, planning, provision and review. Appropriate agencies have a duty to help an education authority discharge their duties under this Act unless the help asked for:

  • is incompatible with the agency's statutory or other duties
  • or unduly prejudices the agency in its discharge of its own functions.

11. For the purposes of the Act, appropriate agencies can be any other local authority, any NHS Board or any other person specified by the Scottish Ministers. Those specified under regulations are Skills Development Scotland (formerly Careers Scotland), Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions.

12. As noted in paragraph 10 above there are two circumstances where an appropriate agency need not discharge its duty to help the education authority. The first refers to a situation where an appropriate agency may be asked to do something which it does not have the power to do or which it does not do as part of its normal functions. The second refers to circumstances where if the agency was to provide the help the agency's ability to carry out its other duties may be seriously compromised. For example, an education authority may request that a particular child has a speech and language therapist allocated to him every morning in school throughout the school year. The NHS Board may argue that it has its full complement of therapists all working to capacity and that to release a therapist to provide this service would prevent the Board carrying out its duties with regard to other children. This is an example only and has no legal weight. Ultimately, in the event of a dispute it is a matter for the courts to decide whether either of the exceptions above applies in particular circumstances.

Sch 2(2)

13. Where a child or young person is attending a school under the management of an education authority outside the child's or young person's home area by virtue of a placing request then it is that host education authority which are responsible for the school education of the child or young person and all the duties under the Act transfer to the host authority. Under the powers in relation to appropriate agencies under the Act, the host education authority could request help from the local authority for the area to which the child or young person belongs. In certain circumstances the host authority can recover costs from the host education authority (see Chapter 4 paragraphs 24 and 25).

s12(2)

14. An education authority are under a duty to seek and take account of relevant advice and information from such appropriate agencies and other persons as they think appropriate when establishing whether a child or young person has additional support needs or would require a co-ordinated support plan.

s12(5) and(6)

15. The Act also provides that no later than 12 months before the date any child or young person having additional support needs and for whose school education the authority are responsible, is expected to leave school, the education authority must request information from an appropriate agency that they consider is involved with the child or young person once they have left school. Authorities must also seek and take account of the views of the child or young person and their parents where they make such a request. The authority should in all cases consider whether or not it is appropriate to make such a request of any relevant appropriate agencies. Authorities can request information as they consider appropriate concerning any provision that the appropriate agency is likely to make for the child or young person on ceasing to receive school education. The information provided must then be taken account of by the education authority in considering the adequacy of the additional support to be provided for the child or young person during the period before the child or young person ceases to receive school education.

16. These requests should be made at least 12 months before the child or young person is expected to leave school. However, this period of 12 months before leaving is the latest point at which a request should be made. In good practice, especially with regard to children with significant additional support needs, the process of preparing for leaving school should have begun much earlier than this, perhaps two or three years before leaving school. Where the education authority become aware that the child or young person is to cease receiving school education less than 12 months before that date, the education authority should act as soon as reasonably practicable after they become so aware. Circumstances such as this may occur, for example, where a child or young person moves from one local authority to another and it has not been possible to plan the transition.

s13
s13(4A)

17. No later than six months before the date on which any child or young person with additional support needs is expected to cease receiving school education an education authority must provide information about any child or young person with additional support needs to such appropriate agencies as they see fit. As above, there will be circumstances where it is good practice to provide this information earlier than six months before leaving. Where the education authority become aware that the child or young person is to cease receiving school education less than six months before that date, the education authority should act as soon as reasonably practicable after they become so aware. Any such information is to be provided only with the consent of the child's parent or the young person. Also the education authority must seek and take account of the views of the child unless the child lacks the capacity to express a view.

s23(1)

18. Where it appears to an education authority that an appropriate agency could, by doing certain things, help in the exercise of any of their functions under the Act, they may, specifying what these things are, request the help of that agency. In making a request the education authority should be very specific about the help they are requesting. For example, the education authority should ask an NHS Board to assess a child's or young person's vision or hearing where the child or young person is experiencing learning, behavioural or speech or language difficulties 7.

s23(1)

19. The Appropriate Agency Request Period and Exceptions Regulations made under the Act specify that appropriate agencies are expected to respond to requests for help within 10 weeks from the date the request is made by the education authority, subject to certain exceptions. An appropriate agency must comply with a request under this subsection of the Act unless it considers that the exceptions in section 23(3) of the Act, set out above at paragraph 10 apply.

20. The role of Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions as well as Skills Development Scotland, as with all other appropriate agencies, will be in line with their statutory or other duties. For example, Further Education Colleges or Higher Education Institutions may be requested to help with provision of information and support relating to their provision. Other agencies, for example local authorities or NHS Boards, may be asked to assist with assessment of the child's or young person's need for certain support.

21. Further Education Colleges, in line with the sector's statutory duties, may offer link courses to children and young people with additional support needs other than at the stage of transition. For example, Further Education Colleges may be involved in assisting the school's sector to prepare pupils for the transition from school to appropriate further education courses at college. These courses may include "Skills for Work" or other courses for children under school-leaving age which form part of the links partnership between schools and a particular college. Such link courses should be designed to include assessment of the additional support needs of particular individuals that can then support transition planning at a future stage.

22. The help which may be provided by both Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions may include a range of services to support transition from school to post-school provision such as:

  • visits to the college or university
  • early meetings with college learning/student support advisors, or university disability advisers, to discuss the type of support available
  • attendance at link courses or transition courses
  • the opportunity to talk with other students with or without additional support needs.

23. These types of support can be extremely helpful to a young person in the transition to college or university, as they may help reassure students that support will be available to resolve any concerns that they might have. Such help may also help reassure them that the issue of future support is being actively addressed. Further information about the roles and responsibilities of Further Education Colleges or Higher Education Institutions is outlined in a guidance document called 'Partnership Matters' 8.

24. Where it appears to an education authority that a young person may benefit from such support it would be reasonable for Further Education Colleges or Higher Education Institutions to be asked for help under section 23(1).

25. Skills Development Scotland can:

  • help children and young people become more aware of the world of work
  • develop the career planning and decision making skills of children and young people
  • assist children and young people to enter appropriate education, training or work.

26. The design and delivery of Skills Development Scotland's products and services is intended to take account of the varied needs of individuals, including those with additional support needs.

27. In addition to the support appropriate agencies may provide to individual children and young people, the provisions of the Act could also extend to discussion between the education authority and the appropriate agency to enable them to collaborate effectively.

s23(1)
s23(5)

28. Social work services belonging to another authority are an appropriate agency for the purposes of the Act. Social work services from the same council are not an appropriate agency but are covered by the Act. The Act requires an education authority to exercise any of their other functions (whether relating to education or not) if they consider that would help them in the exercise of their functions under the Act. This is subject to the exceptions based on compatibility with any of their statutory or other duties or being unduly prejudicial to the discharge by them of any of their functions.

29. It is expected that in most circumstances appropriate agencies will support an education authority when asked. Where there is a dispute between the authority and the appropriate agency as to the operation of the exceptions to the duty it will be ultimately for the courts to decide, in particular circumstances, whether any agency is validly relying on the exception.

30. There will be circumstances where agencies are working with children or young people but are not defined as 'appropriate agencies' within the terms of the Act. For example, the police may be working with youth offenders, or a particular voluntary agency may be involved in providing a care package to a child in a family. Education authorities and such agencies will wish to continue working in partnership with each other using a single plan to co-ordinate action. Likewise, Higher Education Institutions and education authorities may work together for the benefit of children and young people with additional support needs even where such support does not involve school to post-school transition arrangements.

Assessment, planning, action and review

31. Local authorities and other agencies use a wide range of approaches to support assessment and intervention and to promote inter-agency working. In education generally these approaches reflect a staged approach (most commonly four to six stages). Such approaches are built around discrete stages of intervention which seek to resolve difficulties as early as possible and with the least intrusive course of action.

32. The Act does not prescribe any particular model of assessment or support. The diagrams below show some of the common features to be found in most models of staged assessment and provision and in the approach adopted through Getting it right for every child. The My World Triangle allows practitioners to consider systematically:

  • how the child or young person is growing and developing
  • what the child or young person needs from others
  • the impact of the wider world on the child or young person.

Features of approaches to identification, assessment and support

Features of approaches to identification, assessment and support

My World Triangle

Children and young people for whom the authority are responsible: identifying and assessing additional support needs

Identifying additional support needs

s6(1)
s26(2)

33. The Act requires education authorities to make appropriate arrangements for identifying from among the children and young people for whose school education they are responsible those who have additional support needs and those who have additional support needs and require a co-ordinated support plan (considered in Chapter 5) and the particular additional support needs of those so identified. The authority has to publish information explaining what these arrangements are (see Chapter 9 for more details).

s6(2)

34. Education authorities and schools should be able to identify most children and young people with additional support needs through their arrangements for assessing learning and for monitoring the educational progress of children and young people. However, the Act makes provision for parents and young people to request the education authority to establish whether their child has additional support needs or requires a co-ordinated support plan (see below).

s6(5) and(6)

35. There will be circumstances where it comes to the attention of the authority (for example, through a teacher, paediatrician, social worker or therapist) that a child or young person may have additional support needs or requires a co-ordinated support plan. In these circumstances the authority must establish whether the child or young person has additional support needs, or requires a co-ordinated support plan, unless the authority consider it unreasonable to do so. The authority should inform any person making such a referral of their conclusions where the education authority consider it appropriate to share such information and there is no legal barrier to such sharing. The consent of the parent or young person should be sought before doing this.

s1(1A), (1B); and s6(1A)

36. The Act presumes that all looked after children have additional support needs unless the education authority determine that they do not require additional support to enable them to benefit from education. In effect this means that each looked after child will be considered to have additional support needs unless he/she is identified as not having them and this means that each looked after child will have to undergo a process of assessment as part of that process of identification. In addition, each should be considered for a co-ordinated support plan.

Assessment

37. In this Code, assessment is seen as an ongoing process of gathering, structuring and making sense of information about a child or young person, and his/her circumstances. The purpose of assessment under the Act ultimately is to help identify the actions required to maximise development and learning. Assessment plays a key role in the authority's arrangements for identifying children and young people who have additional support needs and who, of those, require a co-ordinated support plan. Assessment is a process supported by professionals and parents. It identifies and builds on strengths, whilst taking account of needs and risks. The assessment process also assumes the negotiated sharing of information by relevant persons and agencies where the law, best practice and policy allow or require it.

38. Assessment is a dynamic process with the child or young person at the centre. As a result it should not be divorced from other aspects of the child's life either at school, home or in the community as illustrated in the My World Triangle above. It will usually include discussion with parents and professionals involved with the child or young person, for example, class teacher, support for learning staff, speech and language therapist, social worker, foster carer or residential worker. It should build on other assessment information already available. It may involve observation in one or more day-to-day situations and/or individual work with the child or young person as required. The education authority should always endeavour to seek and take account of the views of the child or young person unless there are particular circumstances to prevent this happening or which make it inappropriate.

39. Where it is required by virtue of the child's or young person's additional support needs, the assessment process should seek effective multi-agency consultation and collaborative working. Following Getting it right for every child practice a lead professional will co-ordinate the work with the child and family to ensure that the assessment is carried out efficiently and effectively with minimal intrusion into the lives of the child and family members.

s12(2)

40. An education authority must seek and take account of relevant advice and information (including assessments) from such appropriate agencies and such other persons whom they think appropriate in establishing whether a child or young person has additional support needs, or requires a co-ordinated support plan, or in preparing a plan or carrying out a review of a co-ordinated support plan. Those involved from outwith the education authority may be health services. For example, with the consent of the parents or young people themselves, an education authority may request an NHS Board to assess the hearing or vision of a child or young person where the authority are seeking to establish whether the child or young person has additional support needs. The education authority must also take account of any relevant advice and information available from sources within the local authority, other than from education. Such a source is most likely to be the local authority's own social work services.

s12(2)(c)

41. The education authority must also take account of any relevant advice and information provided to them by parents on behalf of their child, or the young person. For example, if the parents have privately commissioned an assessment or report on the child or young person, or the young person has commissioned the report, then the authority must take that report or advice into consideration if asked to do so. Also, the authority must seek and take account of the views of parents and, where appropriate, of children and young people themselves. Further information is provided in Chapter 7 which considers working with children and families.

42. When seeking the views of parents, young people and where appropriate children and when carrying out an assessment, education authorities need to take into account the parents, young people's or child's preferred method of communication. For example, assessments of bilingual children should take into account the child's level of skills in the first language as well as their educational attainment.

Requests for assessment

s8(1), (2); 8A

43. The Act enables parents or young people to request an education authority to arrange for a child or young person to undergo a process of assessment or examination. This right applies when the authority are proposing to establish whether a child or young person has additional support needs or requires a co-ordinated support plan, or the authority propose to review an existing plan. In addition, the right to request an assessment applies at any time so that where it has been established that the child or young person has additional support needs then the parent or young person may request another assessment if they consider this necessary for any reason.

s28(1)(a), (b)
s8(4)
s23(3), (4)

44. Any such request from the parents must be in writing or in any other permanent form which can be referred to in future, such as video or audio tape, and should contain a statement of the reasons for the request. The request can be for an educational, psychological or medical assessment or examination or any other assessment or examination which the parents wish for, including any combination of these. In the case of an assessment or examination requested by the education authority from another appropriate agency such as an NHS Board (for example, related to speech and language, hearing or vision) then the other agency must comply with the request unless it considers that the request is incompatible with its own statutory or other duties or unduly prejudices its discharge of its own functions. As provided for in the Appropriate Agency Request Period and Exceptions Regulations, other agencies are obliged to respond to a request for help, which could include assessment, from the education authority within a period of 10 weeks from the date the request is made, unless one of the statutory exceptions applies in the particular circumstances of a specific request by an education of the appropriate agency.

s8(1)

45. The education authority must comply with the request for assessment unless the request is unreasonable. An unreasonable request is not defined in the Act. However, unreasonableness in this context is an objective test - what a third party might consider unreasonable. It will be for the education authority to consider each individual case on its own facts and circumstances. In some circumstances an authority will need to consider carefully whether to comply. For example, the authority may decide not to comply with the request where assessment:

  • may not be in the best interests of the child or young person
  • may not be seen as being relevant given the child's or young person's circumstances
  • may be unnecessary as there has not been a significant change in the child's or young person's circumstances since an earlier assessment was completed
  • may be within an inappropriate timescale e.g. falling within a short time of a previous request
  • may repeat assessments already carried out.

46. Parents or young people may request other types of assessment beyond education. It is for the education authority to consider who is the appropriate person to carry out the particular process of assessment or examination. Education authorities are not required to arrange for examinations or assessments to be carried out by named individuals or organisations requested by the parents or young person. The education authority may take into account information from social work services or voluntary organisations who are involved with the child or young person. Where a range of assessments is required, the education authority should, in line with Getting it right for every child practice seek to bring these within one assessment process to avoid duplication and placing the child or young person, and his/her family, under stress.

s8(4)

47. Psychological assessment will normally include assessment by an educational psychologist employed by the education authority. In cases where other psychologists (e.g. clinical or occupational psychologists) may have relevant knowledge or information about the child or young person, they should be consulted and their advice recorded and considered.

48. The NHS Board for the area in which the child or young person resides will arrange for provision of assessment or examination, subject to the consent of the child, from the relevant health professional(s) such as, for example, from medical, nursing, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, audiologist or orthoptist. Such assessment or examination should take into account relevant information from other professionals as appropriate.

49. A social work assessment may highlight specific issues in the child's or young person's life which are impacting on his or her ability to benefit from school education. For example, there could be child protection concerns linked to domestic abuse or parental substance misuse; mental or physical health problems within the family; concerns about a young person's offending behaviour; or concerns about a child or young person who has experienced bereavement or loss. A social work assessment should normally be sought when considering a residential placement.

50. Once an assessment request has been made the process should be managed by appropriate staff within the education authority, school or other appropriate agencies. The parent or young person should be provided with contact details for the person managing the process to enable them to be updated on progress. The request for assessment should be acknowledged as soon as possible and the response to a request for assessment should be made within 10 weeks 9. The 10 week period begins when the education authority request the assessment from the appropriate agency. Education authorities should therefore have arrangements in place to make sure that requests are processed without undue delay. In any case where the appropriate agency considers that it cannot meet the timetable it should notify the education authority.

s28(2)

51. As in paragraph 45 above, where an education authority decide not to comply with any request made to them under the Act, including a request for assessment, they must inform the person who made the request, such as the young person or parents, in writing of their decision not to comply and must explain why they are refusing the request. They must also inform the person who made the request about the right to access mediation services provided by the education authority and dispute resolution arrangements and, where appropriate, the Additional Support Needs Tribunal ("the Tribunal").

Early years: children under the age of 3 years

s5(2), (3)

52. The Act requires an education authority to provide additional support to certain disabled pre-school children in their area, normally those who are under 3 years old. This duty applies where such children have been brought to the attention of the education authority as having, or appearing to have, additional support needs arising from a disability within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and it is established by the education authority that they do have such needs. For example, if the parent has brought the child to the attention of the education authority, then the authority may establish whether the child has additional support needs arising from a disability under its arrangements for identifying and providing for children with additional support needs.

s5(2)
s1(3)(b)

53. If the education authority then determine that the child has additional support needs arising from a disability, they must provide such additional support as is appropriate for the child provided the child's parent consents. That support is not confined to educational support but could include support from health, social work or voluntary agencies. Where the education authority decide that there are no additional support needs arising from a disability the authority should inform the parents in writing of the decision and the reasons for it.

54. The education authority should monitor the number of children under 3 years of age receiving support and the nature of that support in order that plans can be made to ensure their needs are met on transition to pre-school provision.

55. In good practice, and following the principles of the Early Years Framework, there will be effective communication across health and social work and education services so that the child may already be known to the education authority. Monitoring by health professionals, such as health visitors, general practitioners and community paediatricians, can identify children with likely additional support needs arising from a disability early in their lives, often at, or just after, birth. In good practice the needs of an identified child will be considered by a community team with relevant representation from health, education, social work and voluntary agencies. In partnership with the parents, the team will consider assessment and intervention approaches. This process will also inform the planning of support when the child enters pre-school provision and/or school. A lead professional who has regular contact with the child should be identified from any one of the agencies involved.

56. The team should aim to ensure a co-ordinated approach to gathering information and to avoid parents having to repeat information more than once. Such an approach also provides a holistic view of the child within his or her family and community context and enables early assessment of medical, social and/or learning needs to identify appropriate services, for example, for vulnerable children.

57. Outcomes of the process of identification and assessment for very young children and their families are:

  • clarification of the child's needs
  • agreement as to what, how, where, when and by whom support will be provided and monitored
  • an action plan which details the provision and explains to the parents how they can contribute.
  • the identification of a lead professional who acts as a single point of reference for the family and other professionals.

Phillipa is a one year old child with complex medical needs resulting in significantly delayed development. She has been referred to the education authority by the local NHS Board for consideration of her additional support needs arising from her disability. A multi-disciplinary community assessment team is co-ordinating a multi-agency support package for Phillipa and her family. This includes support from a home visiting teacher. It is clear that her needs are complex and enduring and will require significant multi-agency support. It was agreed that in addition to the current additional support the preparation for a co-ordinated support plan will begin before her third birthday.

Early years: prescribed pre-school children 10

s6(1) and (2)

58. The Act places a duty on an education authority to make appropriate arrangements for identifying those children for whose school education they are responsible, who may have additional support needs. At the pre-school stage, this duty will cover a child with additional support needs who is in pre-school provision managed by the education authority or in a partnership nursery under arrangements made by the education authority. It may involve also a child who is about to be provided with school education (including pre-school education), either in a school under the management of the authority, or through arrangements entered into by the authority.

59. Some children in pre-school provision will previously have been identified under the age of 3 years as having additional support needs arising from a disability. However, there will be others in pre-school provision who have a range of additional support needs. Early years staff, in partnership with parents, have a key role to play in identifying children who may require additional support.

School years

s6(1)

60. Education authorities are required to identify the additional support needs of each child or young person for whose school education they are responsible. This can be achieved in a range of ways. Any person working with the child, or young people themselves, could draw attention to the fact that difficulties with learning exist. For example, this person might be the parent, class teacher, a member of the school health team, educational psychologist, social worker or any person who has been working with a child or young person. All education authorities (and all schools) should have a clearly set out policy that describes procedures for identifying additional support needs. All education authorities and appropriate agencies should ensure that their processes for identification, assessment, planning, action, monitoring and review take account of the need for multi-agency and collaborative working following the Getting it right for every child programme.

s6(1)

61. Within a school these processes typically follow the path outlined below with the aim of identifying and meeting the child's additional support needs at the earliest possible stage:

  • the teacher identifies children or young people who need a greater level of attention or planning than is generally required by the majority of children or young people in the class
  • the teacher consults with, and seeks help from, other school support, such as learning support staff
  • if action at this stage does not resolve the issue, the school in consultation with colleagues and with parents seeks information and advice from educational services outwith the school, such as, for example, from a visiting teacher or educational psychologist
  • the teacher and the school incorporate this information and advice into their practice with the child or young person in the school
  • if action at this stage does not resolve the issue then support from services from appropriate agencies outwith education may be required such as support from health or social work services. The authority may also look to voluntary agencies for information or advice or from a voluntary agency under a service level agreement. Where more than one agency is, or should be, involved with the child or young person then the education authority and agencies should develop an integrated plan of assessment, sharing information, intervention and review following Getting it right for every child practice.

62. There are variations of the above model in operation. Educational services from outwith the school, such as visiting teachers or educational psychologists, may provide advice to the classroom teacher at the early stages when concerns are first expressed and before these services become directly involved in working with the child and family. This may also apply to services from outwith education where collaborative working is a feature of the work of the school such as is found in some special schools. This overall approach can be very effective. It can lead to a resolution of the issue which avoids the need for formal referrals to these services and provides the class teacher with advice on approaches which may prove successful when similar circumstances arise in the future.

At parents' night Mai Ling's P4 class teacher explained to her parents that while Mai Ling's oral skills were very good, she had difficulties with reading and spelling. These difficulties were beginning to have an adverse impact on her progress in other areas of the curriculum and the class teacher was concerned that Mai Ling might have a form of dyslexia. The parents agreed with the class teacher that the learning support teacher should be asked to assess Mai Ling with a view to determining how best she could be helped in the classroom, whether or not she was dyslexic and what extra support the parents could give her at home.

Children and young people for whom an education authority are not responsible: identifying and assessing additional support needs

63. There will be children and young people belonging to the area of an education authority but where no authority are responsible for their school education. These may be children and young people who are attending independent or grant-aided 11 schools as a result of parental choice or who are being educated at home. In these circumstances, the parents (or young person) may ask the education authority to establish whether the child or young person has additional support needs or would require a co-ordinated support plan, if the authority were responsible for the school education of the child or young person. The education authority may comply with the request but are not obliged to do so. In the case where an education authority exercise this power any education plan drawn up, for example an individualised educational programme or co-ordinated support plan, might include arrangements for provision for home education. In reaching a decision to refuse the request education authorities should consider each case on the basis of its own facts and circumstances.

s7(1)(b)

64. Where a child or young or young person is educated outwith his/her home authority as a result of a placing request then any request for assessment should be directed to the host authority since that authority is responsible for the child's or young person's education (see chapter 4 paragraph 22 below).

s7(2)(b)

65. Managers of independent and grant-aided schools may also request the education authority for the area to which the child or young person belongs to establish if the child or young person would require a co-ordinated support plan, if the authority were responsible for the school education of the child or young person. Again, the education authority may comply with the request but are not obliged to do so. There may be children and young people from outwith Scotland attending these schools but, clearly, such a request could only be made with regard to children and young people whose home education authority is in Scotland.

s28(2)

66. Where the education authority refuse to comply with the request they must inform the person who made the request of their decision and explain their reasons for the decision. They must also inform the parents or young person making the request about the mediation services provided by the authority and about the arrangements for resolving disputes.

67. There may be circumstances where there is no request as such but it is drawn to the attention of the authority that a child or young person belonging to their area, but for whose school education they are not responsible, may have additional support needs. For example, the authority may be aware of a child being educated at home who may have additional support needs. The education authority are not obliged to carry out an assessment but they may, if they wish, establish whether the child has additional support needs by, for example, arranging for an assessment to be carried out by a teacher or educational psychologist. In these circumstances the authority will normally require the agreement of the parents or young person, as appropriate.

s7(7)
s5(4)

68. Where the education authority do respond to a request, as above, or decide to assess a child or young person to whom their attention has been drawn, then they must provide the persons making the request with such information and advice about the additional support required by the child or young person as they consider appropriate. In the case of a child, the parents should always be informed about any additional support which the child requires . However, the authority have power but are not obliged to make provision for the additional support needs so identified.

Making Provision

s4(1)
s1(1) 1980 Act

69. The Act requires that the education authority must make adequate and efficient provision for such additional support as is required by each child or young person with additional support needs for whose school education the authority are responsible. In other words the Act places a duty on the education authority with regard to individual children or young people with additional support needs. Conversely, the authority could be held to be in breach of a duty if it fails to make adequate and efficient provision of additional support for a particular individual with additional support needs. This adds to existing legislation in the 1980 Act which requires that an education authority make adequate and efficient provision of school education for their area.

s4(2)

70. The above duties under the Act do not require an authority to do anything outwith their powers or which would result in unreasonable public expenditure. The Act does not define unreasonable public expenditure. Decisions regarding what can be considered adequate and efficient provision and unreasonable public expenditure can only be judged in the light of each child's or young person's circumstances. Expenditure may be unreasonable where the cost incurred would be completely out of scale with the benefits to the child or young person or where suitable alternative provision is available at a significantly lower cost. It may be unreasonable where substantial expenditure on new facilities would be completely out of scale to the benefits to the wider community. Cost should not be the primary consideration in determining what provision is to be made. For example, an education authority will wish to consider whether the expenditure in providing for a particular child or young person may be of benefit to others in the future. Where the education authority refuse to comply with a request on the grounds of the request being outwith their statutory powers, or likely to incur unreasonable expenditure, they must inform the person who made the request of their decision and explain their reasons for the decision.

71. The education authority should ensure that the authority's policy on additional support needs explains clearly the procedures used by their authority, and in their schools, to monitor and review the progress being made by children and young people with additional support needs, and the effectiveness of any additional support provided

s4(1)(b)
s5(1)

72. The Act requires education authorities to take account of the additional support needs of children and young people with such needs when carrying out any of their functions in connection with the provision of school education. Education authorities will wish to review all their policies relating to the provision of school education to ensure that this general duty is met.

s5(4)

73. The above duties apply to children and young people for whose school education the authority are responsible. However, there are circumstances where an education authority are not responsible for the school education of particular children and young people belonging to their area. These circumstances may include children and young people being educated at home or attending independent schools, or grant-aided schools under arrangements made by their parents. In these circumstances, the authority may provide the additional support required for children and young people belonging to their authority area, but they are not obliged to do so. The education authority will wish to keep appropriate records for planning and monitoring purposes where additional support is provided in such circumstances as well as more generally.

Early years: children under the age of 3 years

s5(2); (3)
s5(4)

74. As described above, the education authority have a duty under the Act to provide additional support in certain circumstances to disabled children belonging to their area, who are under 3 years old and are not a prescribed pre-school child. The nature of that support will depend on the circumstances of the individual child but may include support from a pre-school home visiting teacher and/or attendance at a pre-school centre. This provision need not be educational provision but could include, for example, provision of speech and language therapy. The authority may make provision for children, including children under the age of 3 years with additional support needs, but who are not disabled. However, they are not obliged to make such provision.

Early years: prescribed pre-school children

s4(1)

75. The authority have a duty to make adequate and efficient provision for such additional support as is required by each child or young person with additional support needs for whose school education the authority are responsible. This includes prescribed pre-school children being educated by the authority in its own provision or, for example, in partnership nurseries. The nature of this support will depend on the circumstances of each individual child but the range of support available will in many cases be the same as, or very similar to, that which is available to children in schools.

School years

76. The needs of most children and young people who require additional support will be met through the range of provision available within the school. Importantly, additional support also includes non-educational provision such as support from, for example, a physiotherapist, clinical psychologist, speech and language therapist, play therapist or social worker. Whilst the purpose of additional support is to enable the child or young person to benefit from school education, that support need not be educational in nature and is not restricted to what takes place in a school. Additional support may be provided in a hospital or social work facility. In Chapter 2 additional support was referred to under three overlapping broad headings: approaches to teaching, provision of personnel and provision of resources. It is clearly not feasible to list all the forms of support but some of the common ways support can be provided to the child or young person within the school include:

  • differentiation of the curriculum, including resources and materials
  • possible implementation of an individualised educational programme incorporating SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timed) targets
  • specific support from a classroom assistant/additional support needs assistant /behaviour co-ordinator
  • group work support within the school provided by teaching and/or social work staff
  • peer support arrangements such as buddying, paired reading and circle time
  • support from a therapist working directly with the child or young person, and/or working through another such as a teacher or parent following therapist's advice
  • individual or small group teaching.

77. Where difficulties persist, a progressive process of assessment and support will inform next steps in learning. Consultation with parents and the child or young person, support staff and agencies outwith the school may be necessary. Additional support may be given within or outwith a classroom or mainstream school context. For example, some children may benefit from attending a unit within the school on a full or part-time basis. Others may benefit from provision in a special school. Others may benefit from attending a health, social work or voluntary agency facility.

Planning: educational plans

78. Planning for learning is an ongoing process subject to continuous review, through pre-school, school and beyond into lifelong learning. Most children and young people who require additional support will have their learning needs met by the day-to-day classroom practice in pre-school and school settings. This practice is subject to the normal self-evaluation and external professional monitoring and quality assurance procedures in place in school education. More formal planning arrangements may be required where additional support is needed from other education services and other appropriate agencies. For example, an educational psychologist may be called on to advise on appropriate learning outcomes for a particular child or young person. Other non-education services may be involved in a joint or shared assessment of a child or young person. In such circumstances an integrated plan of action will be appropriate.

79. In all circumstances, planning should aim to ensure the effective co-ordination of support, including parents and the child or young person, so that it is clear what the intended learning outcomes are and what additional support is required to achieve these. Every opportunity should be taken to ensure that there is an integrated action plan for a child or young person where more than one agency or service is involved and the aim should be to have one plan in line with Getting it right for every child. Such an integrated action plan may be made up of different elements; for example, an individualised educational programme may be included as part of a child's plan for a looked after child. In this way, the professionals working with the child or young person use one integrated action plan with shared educational objectives. The following paragraphs consider the plans most likely to be used with children and young people who require additional support for learning.

Personal learning planning

80. Personal learning planning helps children, young people and parents to be clear about the goals of learning, including those for personal development, and the experiences and outcomes planned for children and young people through Curriculum for Excellence. Its focus is on supporting dialogue among teachers, parents, children and young people, and ultimately about engaging children and young people in their own learning. The purpose of record keeping and documentation is to support the process of personal learning planning rather than these being ends in themselves. This should be done in whatever way suits learners and the school best. All children with additional support needs should be engaged in personal learning planning and for many this process will be sufficient to address their additional support needs. Further detailed information about personal learning planning including information on sharing criteria, involvement of pupils, gathering evidence, record keeping, individual and group personal learning planning and meeting the needs of pupils with additional support needs, including extracts from case studies explaining each of these further can be obtained from the Assessment is for Learning website which is noted in the resources section.

Individualised educational programme

81. Where children or young people require more detailed planning for learning than can be catered for through personal learning planning, or where substantial adaptation to the curriculum is being considered, an individualised educational programme may be appropriate. An individualised educational programme describes in detail the nature of a child's or young person's additional support needs, the ways in which these are to be met, the learning outcomes to be achieved, and specifies what additional support is required, including that required from agencies from outwith education. Where appropriate, an education authority should work with health, social work or voluntary agencies to draw up the programme so that objectives and services can be co-ordinated

82. Many local authorities have a policy which explains the circumstances under which individualised educational programmes are used. Some have developed a template for an individualised educational programme which can be completed electronically.

Co-ordinated support plans

83. There is a small number of children and young people with significant additional support needs arising from complex or multiple factors who require support from at least one agency from outwith education. These children may fulfil the statutory requirements for having a co-ordinated support plan, which is described in detail in chapter 5, to ensure that the support for learning is co-ordinated effectively across agencies. The links between co-ordinated support plans and other educational plans are considered in Chapter 5.

Planning: agencies outwith education

84. There is a range of plans, which a child or young person may have. Education authorities and other agencies should seek to ensure that assessment for, and production of, learning plans takes account of any other planning processes within the local authority and across agencies. The ultimate aim is to have one plan in line with Getting it right for every child. Educational objectives should be shared across plans. In particular, education plans should link with any health or social care plan. This will help prevent duplication and facilitate the co-ordination and implementation of support for children and young people .

s31 1995 Act

85. Particular issues may arise with statutory care plans. There is a statutory duty on the local authority as "corporate parent" to review children and young people looked after by them. Although the emphasis of the care plan will quite properly focus on the child or young person in placement, and contact arrangements with the family, it must also reflect fully the child's or young person's learning needs. Effective planning is important to ensure that children and young people receive the services they need. "Children who are looked after should have the same opportunities as all other children for education, including further and higher education, and access to other opportunities for development. They should also, where necessary, receive additional help, encouragement and support to address special needs or compensate for previous deprivation or disadvantage." ( Guidance to the Children (Scotland) Act 1995)

86. Schools are required to report on the educational progress of each child or young person who is looked after away from home. Where children or young people have additional support needs, these should be stated in their care plan. In many cases it will be appropriate for that part of the care plan which covers education to refer to any planning documents used for education, and for these documents to be appended to the care plan, without necessarily completing the education section of the care plan.

87. There is a range of health care plans for different disciplines within health, e.g. medical, nursing, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and physiotherapy. Each plan is informed by an assessment process with clear objectives and outcomes. These outcomes are monitored to inform and ensure clinical effectiveness. Plans may be single or multi-disciplinary, or form part of a multi-agency plan as appropriate. Although these plans have their own specific purposes, it is important that they are integrated with and cross-refer to education plans for purposes of identifying learning needs and educational objectives. However, the Government's eCare Framework will eventually provide secure multi agency information sharing.

Louise, aged 6, is the oldest of three children. The school is concerned about her short concentration span, poor communication and aggressive behaviour towards other children. The family receive support from the local family centre and there have been regular multi agency meetings to co-ordinate support.

For the previous six months all three children have been on the child protection register because of concerns of neglect. At the most recent review of the child protection plan it was highlighted that Louise's communication skills remained poor despite an individualised educational programme being in place. A speech and language therapist assessed Louise and advised the school about more appropriate teaching approaches and objectives and helped to develop new appropriate education targets within the plan. The educational objectives are now shared across the child protection plan and the individualised educational program

Monitoring and review

88. Education authorities must make appropriate arrangements for keeping under consideration the additional support needs of, and the adequacy of additional support provided to, each child and young person with additional support needs for whose school education they are responsible. Education authorities, with appropriate agencies, must monitor the progress of children and young people who have additional support needs to ensure that they are learning effectively and making adequate progress. Where children and young people are not making adequate progress as expected, the child's needs should be re-assessed and appropriate support provided.

89. Education authorities and other agencies need to have arrangements in place to co-ordinate the planning and review process for children and young people. These arrangements will maximise effective joint and coherent working across agencies and authorities involved and help reduce pressure on the child or young person and their parents as well as promoting the child's or young person's development to their fullest potential. This is particularly important where the review schedules for plans vary. For example, individualised educational programmes are reviewed regularly by teachers and children and young people as part of the continuous teaching and learning cycle. Formal programme reviews are called, as required, but typically every two months or each term.

90. The local authority, as a minimum requirement, must review the circumstances of children and young people looked after away from home within six weeks of being placed. Thereafter, reviews must take place within three months of the first review; and subsequently, at intervals of no more than six months. The purpose of these reviews is to prepare a care plan which addresses the immediate and longer term needs of the child or young person with a view to safeguarding and promoting his or her welfare. Where a looked after child or young person also has an individualised educational programme or a co-ordinated support plan, the authority may decide to review these within the care plan review process. Any meetings should fully involve the parents and the child or young person in preparing the plan or plans. A copy of the plan should go to parents, young persons and all those who have contributed to the plan or plans.

91. Authorities and agencies should have arrangements in place to ensure that all appropriate plans are updated and integrated as required. Local arrangements should be in place to decide who convenes multi-agency review meetings and who the lead professional will be. As noted `in paragraph 36 above, the Act presumes that all looked after children have additional support needs unless the education authority determine that they do not require additional support to enable them to benefit from education. Reviews should be used to consider whether looked after children or young people have additional support needs.

92. Changes in educational provision such as transfer of school and planning for leaving school require to be considered carefully to ensure that transitions are as smooth and purposeful as possible. Transitions are considered in Chapter 6.