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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 5 Co-ordinated Support Plan

1. Previous chapters have considered the general provision for additional support needs that the Act requires education authorities to make. However, a small number of children and young people have additional support needs arising from complex or multiple factors which require a high degree of co-ordination of support from education authorities and other agencies in order that their needs can be met. This support is co-ordinated through the provision of a co-ordinated support plan under the Act. This chapter explains the circumstances under which children and young people may require a co-ordinated support plan. The contents of a co-ordinated support plan are also considered.

s6(1)
s6(1A)

2. The co-ordinated support plan is a statutory document which is subject to regular monitoring and review for those children and young people who meet the criteria for requiring one. Education authorities must have arrangements in place to identify from among those children and young people for whose school education they are responsible, those children and young people with additional support needs who require a co-ordinated support plan and the particular additional support needs of the children so identified. Also, the Act, as amended, assumes that all looked after children and young people have additional support needs unless the authority are able to demonstrate that an individual looked after child or young person does not require additional support in order to benefit from school education. In addition, the Act, as amended, requires education authorities to consider whether each individual looked after child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan

s2(1)

3. The criteria for requiring a plan are as follows:

….. a child or young person requires a plan (referred to in this Act as a "co-ordinated support plan") for the provision of additional support if-

(a) an education authority are responsible for the school education of the child or young person,

(b) the child or young person has additional support needs arising from-

(i) one or more complex factors, or

(ii) multiple factors,

(c) those needs are likely to continue for more than a year, and

(d) those needs require significant additional support to be provided-

(i) by the education authority in the exercise of any of their other functions as well as in the exercise of their functions relating to education, or

(ii) by one or more appropriate agencies (within the meaning of section 23(2)) as well as by the education authority themselves.

Applying the criteria for a co-ordinated support plan

An education authority must be responsible for the school education of the child or young person

s2(1)(a)

4. The first test for determining whether or not a child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan is that an education authority must be responsible for the school education of the child or young person before one can be prepared. Children and young people for whose school education an authority are not responsible cannot have a co-ordinated support plan (see paragraph 10 below).

Early years and pre-school

s5

5. In the early years those children below the age of a prescribed pre-school child (normally the age of 3 years) are not eligible for a co-ordinated support plan, since they are not eligible to receive school education. Nevertheless, as described in Chapter 3, the authority may, in certain circumstances have a duty to provide additional support for learning to certain children, belonging to their area, who have been drawn to their attention as having additional support needs arising from a disability within the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (c 50) even though a co-ordinated support plan cannot be provided. However, when the children are in pre-school provision managed by the authority, or in a partnership nursery, then they may have a co-ordinated support plan, provided the other criteria for having one are met.

6. Education authorities should not wait until children reach the age of entitlement to school education, at the age of 3 years approximately, before commencing the initial assessments to determine whether a co-ordinated support plan will be necessary, if they have grounds to believe that such a plan will be required. For some children who are about to start pre-school provision, such as nursery school, it may therefore be necessary to begin the assessment process for deciding whether a co-ordinated support plan should be prepared, or not, for a child of two years of age.

School age

s4(1)

7. The education authority are responsible for the school education of children and young people belonging to their area who attend schools under the management of the authority (referred to here as the home authority). The authority are also responsible for the education of children and young people attending independent or grant-aided special schools where the authority have made the arrangements for children and young people to attend these schools, for example, to enable the authority to discharge their functions to make adequate and efficient provision for the additional support required. Children and young people may also be placed in independent and grant-aided special schools, and secure units, through the Children's Hearing system. In these cases the education authority are also responsible for the school education of children and young people belonging to their area. In any of these circumstances, the education authority will require to consider whether such individual children and young people require a co-ordinated support plan.

8. A child or young person may attend a school under the management of an education authority other than the education authority for the area to which the child or young person belongs. This former education authority are referred to here as the host education authority; the latter are the home education authority. The home education authority may enter into arrangements with another education authority, and arrange for that child or young person to be educated in that host education authority, in order that the home education authority can discharge their duties under the Act. In such circumstances, the home education authority are responsible for the school education of the child or young person including being responsible for establishing whether that child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan, for preparing the plan, as necessary, and for keeping under consideration the adequacy of any plan so prepared.

s10(1)

9. However, where a child or young person is attending a school in an authority other than the home education authority as a result of a placing request, then it is the host education authority which are responsible for the school education of that child or young person. The host education authority are responsible for ensuring that they fulfil all their duties under the Act, as required, where an education authority are responsible for the school education of a child or young person. These duties include being responsible for establishing whether that child or young person requires a co-ordinated support and for preparing the plan, as necessary.

s7

10. Children and young people who have been placed in independent or grant-aided schools, by their parents or others, or are being educated at home, and for whose school education the authority are not responsible, are not eligible to have a co-ordinated support plan. In these circumstances, parents or the 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. Managers of independent and grant-aided schools may also request the education authority 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.

Additional support needs arising from complex and multiple factors

s2(1)(b) and (c)

11. To have a co-ordinated support plan a child or young person must have additional support needs arising from one or more complex factors or multiple factors and these needs must be likely to continue for more than a year. It should be noted that while the need for support arising from these factors should be likely to continue for more than a year the Act does not require that the 'significant additional support' provided (see practical examples in Annex C) must last for more than a year .

12. As noted in Chapter 2 there is a wide range of factors which may lead to children and young people having additional support needs. The factors may be grouped into broad overlapping themes arising from the learning environment, family circumstances, disability and health issues, and social and emotional factors.

s2(2)(a)

13. The Act states that a factor is a complex factor if it has, or is likely to have, a significant adverse effect on the school education of the child or young person.

The Act does not define the length of time over which a complex factor has an effect (although the additional support needs arising from one or more complex factors have to be likely to last for more than a year for a child or young person to require a co-ordinated support plan), nor does the Act define the term 'significant adverse effect'. However, since a complex factor is one that has a significant adverse effect on the school education of the child or young person, it is likely that it will affect most aspects of learning. Some examples of complex factors grouped according to the above themes could be the following:

Learning environment - where the teaching approaches and curriculum are significantly different from what the child or young person requires and are thus having a significant adverse effect on his or her school education. This may arise where the child or young person is attending a particular mainstream school and the learning and teaching approaches available there cannot, for whatever reasons, be suitably adapted to take account of the child's or young person's learning needs. In this example, a special school may provide a more effective education. Alternatively, a child or young person in a special school may require to be placed in a mainstream school. Or, the child or young person may have severe dyslexia which is having a significant effect on his or her ability to access the curriculum and, because the appropriate measures have not been put in place, this is adversely affecting the child's or young person's progress in school.

Family circumstances - where family life is disrupted, perhaps through parental alcohol, drug or domestic abuse or mental health problems, and the child or young person is not receiving the parental support, direction and guidance needed to make the most of school education. Or, where for example, school attendance is very poor and is adversely affecting educational progress.

Disability or health - where the child or young person faces barriers to learning and development from, for example blindness, or a physical disability such as cerebral palsy or other condition such as autistic spectrum disorder, specific language impairment or developmental co-ordination disorder and requires measures to be put in place if the child or young person is to benefit from school education. In addition, some children or young people with a mental health problem such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression or anorexia may experience significant or frequent disruption to their school education.

Social and emotional factors - children or young people may have social and emotional difficulties, such as behaviour difficulties which may lead to offending or they may be being bullied, which prevents them attending school regularly or engaging effectively with the curriculum.

s2(2)(b)

14. Multiple factors are factors which are not by themselves complex factors but, taken together, have or are likely to have, a significant adverse effect on the school education of the child or young person. For example, a child may have a mild sensory impairment (disability or health), live in disadvantaged social circumstances where there are parental relationship difficulties, unemployment and low income (family circumstances) and may not be receiving appropriate education (learning environment) which takes account of the sensory impairment. Each of these taken separately may not have a significant adverse effect on the education of the child or young person, but the cumulative effect of these multiple factors is such that the school education of the child or young person is being adversely affected to a significant degree.

15. In all cases it is how the factors impact on the child's learning and development that is important and it is assessment which determines this. Those well placed to decide whether or not factors are complex or multiple are those working with the child or young person, as well as the parents, and of course the child or young person. What may be complex, or multiple, factors with a significant adverse effect for one child or young person may not be for another. It is the effect of the factor(s) on school education that is important, not any diagnostic label alone. Every child or young person should be considered on an individual basis. In some cases, there will be a need for a co-ordinated support plan while for others, another existing planning process e.g. an individualised educational programme, or a Care Plan may be sufficient to address the child's or young person's needs.

A co-ordinated support plan may not need to last throughout a child's or young person's school career

Adam has a specific language impairment which had led to a co-ordinated support plan being prepared during his pre-school year. He maintained a split placement between a language unit and mainstream primary school for the first three years of his primary schooling. During this time his needs required a high degree of co-ordination amongst the professionals involved and he received significant support from a speech and language therapist. In P4 he attended his mainstream school full time supported by an outreach teacher and a speech and language therapist. In working with the speech and language therapist, the school staff were able to develop new skills and appropriate strategies within class to meet his needs. At the next review of the co-ordinated support plan, it became clear that significant support from outwith education was no longer necessary and there was no longer a need for a co-ordinated support plan.

Additional support needs likely to continue for more than a year

s2(1)(c)

16. As noted above, in addition to deciding on whether the criteria of complex or multiple factors are met, professionals involved with the children and young people must determine how long those additional support needs are likely to last. For a co-ordinated support plan to be required the judgment must be that these needs are likely to continue for more than a year.

Significant additional support

s2(1)(d)

17. These additional support needs must also require the provision of significant additional support from an education authority, and either the local authority exercising their functions other than education (e.g. social work services) and/or one or more appropriate agency/agencies 13, within the meaning of the Act and the associated regulations, if a co-ordinated support plan is to be required. One purpose of the co-ordinated support plan is to ensure that support is co-ordinated effectively when at least one service is required from outwith what the education authority provides as part of its educational functions.

18. The Act does not define what "significant additional support" means but the issue has been discussed in the Tribunal and courts. In particular, the opinion delivered by Lord Nimmo Smith in the Inner House of the Court of Session in the case of JT is particularly relevant and is followed here 14. The use of the term "significant" signals that the scale of the support provided, whether it is in terms of approaches to learning and teaching (e.g. adaptation or elaboration of the curriculum) or personnel (eg provision of learning support assistant) or resources (eg specialist aid to communication or a special hoist), or a combination of these, stands out from the continuum of possible additional support. The issue of significance thus refers to the extent of the provision. Judgments about significance have to be made taking account of the frequency, nature, intensity and duration of the support and the extent to which that support needs to be co-ordinated and is necessary for the achievement of the educational objectives which will be included in the plan. In particular, the support must be of sufficient duration to make it worthwhile preparing a co-ordinated support plan in order to ensure that it is co-ordinated properly.

19. In Annex C a grid is provided with some examples which may prove useful in considering the issue of significance. Full-time placement in a special school or unit would count as significant additional support, as would provision of personnel full-time to support a child or young person in a mainstream school, and provision of specialist aids to communication.

20. Where a child or young person is looked after and living away from home in a special school then that is certainly significant additional support. Where support is required from social work services to sustain the child's or young person's attendance at the school, and hence to enable him or her to achieve their educational objectives (see below), than that is likely to count as significant additional support. In these circumstances, it is likely that the child or young person would require a co-ordinated support plan. However, it is not possible to generalise as to what should count as significant and consideration has to be given to circumstances in individual cases.

21. The following diagram provides a decision tree to help authorities to decide whether children and young people require a co-ordinated support plan. It should be read in conjunction with the Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations. This chart should be read as relevant to all appropriate agencies.

diagram

Seeking and taking account of views and providing information

s12(2)

22. When considering whether or not a co-ordinated support plan may be required, or in preparing such a plan, an education authority must seek and take account of relevant advice and information (including assessments) from appropriate agencies and other persons whom they think are appropriate. This may be, for example, from health services. They must also take account of advice and information available from sources within the authority, other than from education. Such a source is most likely to be the authority's own social work services. They must also take account of information provided to them by, or on behalf of, the child or 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 himself or herself, then the authority must take that report or advice into consideration if provided to them. Also, the authority must seek and take account of the views of children and their parents, and young people themselves.

s2(4) Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991

23. If an education authority identify a child or young person as requiring a co-ordinated support plan it is expected that the parents would want to, and will, participate in its preparation. Most parents are keen to do what is best for their child and do co-operate with education authorities. In some cases, parents may be concerned about the assessment process and may not co-operate. If the parent will not co-operate with the assessment process the education authority will require to decide whether they have enough information available to prepare a co-ordinated support plan. This is also the case where a child, or a parent on their behalf where the child lacks the capacity to consent, has refused to give consent to a medical assessment or examination. For most children or young people who require a co-ordinated support plan there will be detailed information available. Education authorities are still able to draw up co-ordinated support plans even where parents disagree that one should be prepared or where they refuse to co-operate. In circumstances where the parents disagree that a co-ordinated support plan is required it is open to them to refer the authority's decision to the Tribunal.

s11(1), (2) and (3)

24. Where an education authority propose to establish whether any child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan they must, before proceeding, inform the parents ( or young person). They must also inform the managers of independent or grant-aided schools, where they are responding to a request by them to establish whether a child or young person would require a co-ordinated support plan if the education authority were responsible for the child or young person's school education. When they have reached a view on whether a co-ordinated support plan is required the authority must also inform these persons about their conclusions and any rights to make a reference to the Tribunal regarding the authority's conclusions.

Requesting an assessment

25. As described in Chapter 3, where an education authority are responsible for the school education of a child or young person they must meet requests made by a parent or young person to establish whether any child or young person has additional support needs, or requires a co-ordinated support plan, unless the request is unreasonable.

26. Where an education authority are not responsible for the school education of a child or young person they may meet requests made by the parents, young person or managers of an independent or grant-aided school to establish whether the child or young person would, if the education authority were responsible for the school education of the child or young person, require a co-ordinated support plan.

s28(2)
s7

27. In both cases above those making the request will be expected to provide sufficient information to explain why they think assessment is required. The education authority must notify the parents or young person, or the managers of the independent or grant-aided school (as appropriate), of a decision not to comply with the request. In the case of a child or young person for whose school education they are responsible, the education authority must notify the parents or the young person, before proceeding, of their proposal to establish whether the child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan. In the case of a child or young person for whose school education the education authority are not responsible then where the education authority decide that a co-ordinated support plan would have been required, if they were responsible for the child's or young person's school education, then they must provide the person who made the request with such information and advice about the child's or young person's additional support needs as they consider appropriate.

28. Education authorities should notify the person making the request of either decision as quickly as possible but certainly no later than 4 weeks from when the request is received.

s18(5)
s28(2)(d)

29. Where an education authority are responsible for the school education of a child or young person then their decision not to comply with a request to establish whether a co-ordinated support plan is required is treated as a decision of the education authority that the child or young person does not require a co-ordinated support plan. In notifying the parents or young person of their decision, they must also notify them of their right to make a reference to the Tribunal. A reference to the Tribunal can only be made where an education authority are responsible for the school education of the child or young person.

s18(5A)

30. Where a parent or young person has requested that the authority establish whether the child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan and the authority have not responded to that request within a specified period of time (set out in Regulations), the Act, as amended, provides that the failure to respond is treated as if it was a decision by the education authority that no co-ordinated support plan is required. In these circumstances the parent or young person can refer to the Tribunal the authority's deemed refusal to prepare a co-ordinated support plan.

s18(5B)

31. Also, where an authority have notified a parent or young person that they will establish whether the child or young person requires a co-ordinated support plan but, after a specified period of time (set out in Regulations), the authority have not made a decision on the matter either way, the Act, as amended, enables that failure to be treated as if it were a decision of the education authority that no co-ordinated support plan is required. Decisions of an authority that no co-ordinated support plan is required can be referred to the Tribunal.

s8(1)
s8A
s7(2)(b)

32. Where an education authority propose to establish whether a child or young person has additional support needs or requires a co-ordinated support plan they must also comply with a request for an assessment or examination made by the parent or young person unless the request is unreasonable; as noted earlier, the Act, as amended, allows this request to be made at any time, not just when establishing whether a child or young person has additional support needs or requires a co-ordinated support plan. The parent or young person can request that the education authority arrange for the child or young person, referred to in the proposal, to undergo a process of educational, medical, psychological or other type of assessment or examination (or a combination of these) for the purposes of establishing if there is a requirement for a co-ordinated support plan. The managers of independent or grant-aided schools may request an assessment or examination where an education authority propose to establish whether a child or young person has additional support needs or a child or young person would require a co-ordinated support plan if the education authority were responsible for the child or young person's school education.

33. Educational assessments are an intrinsic part of day-to-day practice in schools. Education authorities should consider these when deciding whether a request for any additional or particular assessment or examination, not already contained in the proposal for establishing if there is a requirement for a co-ordinated support plan, is reasonable. They should consider also any other available assessments (for example, health or social work) and decide whether there is any requirement or need for further detail.

Preparing a co-ordinated support plan

diagram

34. The flow diagram above describes the steps which may be taken to draw up a co-ordinated support plan. It is essential that the plan is prepared having sought and taken account of the views of:

  • the parents and child
  • the young person
  • representatives of those appropriate agencies, and any others, providing support.

35. Education authorities should have clear arrangements for joint working with those appropriate agencies and others involved in supporting children and young people with additional support needs. These should include the arrangements under which support specified in the co-ordinated support plan can be approved and provided by the authority itself and appropriate agencies.

Timescale for drawing up the plan

36. An education authority will have 16 weeks within which to produce a completed co-ordinated support plan as set out in the Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations. Within this timescale they will have to undertake a process to establish whether the child or young person meets the criteria for having a co-ordinated support plan, reach a decision, notify the parents or young person of the outcome and prepare the plan, if it has been established that one is required.

37. As part of this process they have to seek and take account of views and information provided, identify the educational objectives to be achieved, the support required, and identify and liaise with the appropriate agencies and other persons that will provide the support.

38. The 16 week period starts from the date the education authority inform the child's parents or the young person of their proposal to establish whether a co-ordinated support plan is required. The date is the date on which information about the proposal is sent by the education authority.

39. An education authority's proposal for establishing whether a co-ordinated support plan is required should also inform parents or young people about:

  • the agencies, other departments of the authority and other people from whom the education authority propose to seek views, advice and information
  • any proposed assessments or examinations
  • their right to request particular assessment(s) relevant to the proposal
  • their right to provide advice and information relevant to the proposal
  • their involvement in the process
  • a proposed timescale for the process
  • their rights under the Act to make a reference to the Tribunal
  • their right to make a placing request if they disagree with the school nominated in the plan.

40. The majority of children and young people being considered for requiring a co-ordinated support plan will previously be known to the education authority. Consideration for a co-ordinated support plan will have arisen from monitoring the child's or young person's additional support needs and his or her ability to benefit from the school education being provided. In most cases, education authorities would be expected to be able to reach a decision fairly quickly as to whether a co-ordinated support plan is required. There will be situations where reaching a decision will take longer, for example, where the child or young person has moved to the authority area from outwith Scotland and limited information is available, or where an appropriate agency cannot comply with a request for help quickly.

41. It will be in an education authority's best interests to ensure that the information about the proposal is as detailed as possible and that action is taken promptly to get the process underway, such as through contacting appropriate agencies, or others as appropriate, to seek and prepare to take account of information, advice or help. It is expected that the authority will have reached a decision and notified the parents or young person no later than 4 weeks after informing them of their proposal to establish whether a co-ordinated support plan is required, unless it would be impractical to do so. Where an education authority decide that the child or young person does require a co-ordinated support plan then they will have no more than 12 weeks remaining in which to prepare the plan and provide the parent or young person with a copy.

42. The statutory 16 week period ends on the date on which the education authority give the child's parents or the young person a copy of the completed co-ordinated support plan. This date is the date a copy of the co-ordinated support plan is sent by the education authority.

43. As in paragraph 31 above, if the authority have notified the parents or young person that they intend to establish whether or not a co-ordinated support is required and after a specified period of time (set out in regulations) have not made a decision on the matter either way then that failure will be treated as if the authority have decided that a co-ordinated support plan is not required. The parents and young person are able then to refer that decision to the Tribunal.

Time limit exceptions

44. While an education authority will be expected to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the time limit is complied with, there will be circumstances outwith the education authority's control which make compliance impracticable. The Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations, therefore, set out the circumstances where it would be considered impracticable for an education authority to meet the usual 16 week timescale. The exceptions cover circumstances relating to both the establishing and preparing phases of the overall process. These include where:

  • the child's parent or the young person has made a request for a particular type of assessment or examination and that cannot take place, or the results will not be available, before the end of the 16 week period
  • the education authority have asked an appropriate agency or other persons for help and they have not been able to respond in time.

45. When an education authority become aware that the 16 week time limit is unlikely to be met, they must explain to the child's parents or the young person the reason for the delay and must set a new date for completion of the process. The regulations require that the new time limit should not exceed the standard 16 weeks by longer than is reasonably necessary in the circumstances, which in any event must not be more than 24 weeks from the start date (see paragraph 38 above) . This is to allow for the individual circumstances surrounding the delay to be taken into consideration and to allow an appropriate new timetable to be set in the light of these.

s18(3)(c)

46. A parent or young person can make a reference to the Tribunal where, once it has been established that the child or young person does require a co-ordinated support plan, the education authority fail to prepare a plan by the 16 weeks statutory time limit unless one of the exceptions apply. Education authorities should have regard to this when considering applying any of the time limit exceptions. In some cases an education authority may have to proceed to reach a decision about requirement for a co-ordinated support plan or the actual content of a plan on the basis of the information available.

What does a co-ordinated support plan contain?

47. The Act and associated regulations set out the form and content for a co-ordinated support plan. The statutory parts of the plan and prescribed decisions, failure or information can be referred to the Tribunal for review. Plans must contain:

  • the education authority's conclusions as to the factor or factors from which the additional support needs of the child or young person arise
  • the educational objectives sought to be achieved taking account of those factors
  • the additional support required to achieve these objectives
  • details of those who will provide this support.

48. The plan must also contain:

  • the name of the school the child or young person is to attend
  • the details of the person who will coordinate the additional support identified in the plan, or the details of any person nominated by the education authority to carry out the co-ordinator function, if not an education authority official
  • the details of a contact person within the local authority from whom the parent or young person can obtain advice and further information.

49. The plan should be clear and succinct, and refer to needs that will, or are likely to, continue for more than a year. Short-term objectives would continue to be contained within personal learning planning or an individualised educational programme or other plan. In cases where there is an individualised educational programme or other planning approach in place, the co-ordinated support plan should refer to these but not duplicate the content of the plans unless required to meet the statutory requirements for the plan.

50. The co-ordinated support plan also contains other details in addition to those required by the Act. These are:

  • specified biographical and contact details of the child or young person
  • specified contact details for the parents(s) or those adults who have, or share, responsibility for the care of the child or young person
  • a profile - the purpose of this is to build a holistic pen picture of the child or young person. It should focus on the positive aspects of the child's/young person's life, for example, his/her skills and capabilities. It may also include information about the school attended or curriculum, other planning in place, his/her favourite activities, or how he/she likes to learn
  • parents' and child's/young person's comments on any aspects of the co-ordinated support plan process as well as the plan itself
  • a review timetable.

51. While the co-ordinated support plan details the factors giving rise to the child's or young person's additional support needs, the plan does not contain the multi-agency information, including assessment/examination reports that contributed to the education authority reaching these conclusions. How or where this information is kept or shared is a matter for all the professionals involved to consider while bearing in mind that some of this information may be sensitive or could cause distress to the child or young person or other family members.

52. A co-ordinated support plan template containing guidance notes can be found at Annex B. Further information and guidance on how to complete a co-ordinated support plan will be contained in separate guidance.

The factors giving rise to additional support needs

53. This part of the plan must state the complex factor or factors, or multiple factors giving rise to additional support needs. In some cases, the factors may be diagnostic terms such as autistic spectrum disorder, learning disability or clinical depression. In other cases, the factor or factors may be more descriptive and related directly to the personal circumstances of the child or young person and family. For example, parental mental health problems may be a complex factor which results in difficulties in the family and leads to the child or young person being looked after away from home.

54. It should be clear from the assessment information which underpins the co-ordinated support plan what the complex and/or multiple factors are and how these are influencing the development of the child or young person and his/her ability to benefit from school education. All the complex and/or multiple factors involved should be stated in the co-ordinated support plan. The factors triggering the requirement for a co-ordinated support plan need to have, or be likely to have, a significant adverse effect on the school education of the child or young person.

Educational objectives

55. The co-ordinated support plan is designed to enable children or young people to work towards achieving their educational objectives. Within the meaning of the Act, school education includes, in particular, education directed towards the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person to their fullest potential. Educational objectives should be set to secure that the child or young person benefits from the school education provided or to be provided. They should be viewed in the widest sense as encompassing a holistic view of the child or young person. They should be specific to the child or young person and his or her additional support needs.

56. Educational objectives, for example, may include those required for personal and social development or for health and wellbeing. For some children or young people, legitimate educational objectives could be, for example, learning to travel independently or learning particular social skills concerned with, say, feeding or dressing. What is important is that the plan contains those educational objectives which require the various forms of support to be co-ordinated if the educational objectives are to be achieved. For example, a teacher and speech and language therapist may need to ensure their support is well co-ordinated if the educational objectives to be achieved are related to improving the communication skills of a child with an autistic spectrum disorder; a teacher and social worker may need to work together to ensure that a child looked after away from home is able to complete schoolwork assignments outwith school.

57. The educational objectives in the co-ordinated support plan must take account of the factors giving rise to the child's or young person's additional support needs. The objectives will require the co-ordination of services if they are to be achieved. Children and young people will always be working to achieve other learning outcomes which are not documented in the plan and these will be outcomes which do not depend, for their achievement, on the level of co-ordination of support required by the plan. For example, a particular child with a co-ordinated support plan may have intended learning outcomes set for, say, language and mathematics and, apart from the usual support from the family, the school may feel that these will be achieved without any support from other agencies. These learning objectives will be documented through other school planning arrangements such as personal learning planning, an individualised educational programme, or another approach used by the school and will not be listed in the co-ordinated support plan.

58. Decisions about what are appropriate educational objectives to meet a child's or young person's additional support needs should be taken independently of the additional support required to achieve these and should be informed by the assessment information available. The starting point should be to establish what it is reasonable to expect the child or young person to achieve over the course of the next year, taking account of the assessment information available. The objectives should be described in terms that are specific enough to enable the education authority, and the other agencies involved in supporting the child or young person, to monitor and review progress over time. When setting an objective, a question that needs to be answered is "How will we know the objective has been achieved?" Since each co-ordinated support plan has to be reviewed on, at least, an annual basis then the objectives should be those which can be achieved in a year approximately or for which progression milestones will be identifiable within the year.

59. Those drawing up the educational objectives will find it useful to consider as a starting point the Experiences and Outcomes in Curriculum for Excellence because these apply across all schools in Scotland and are relevant for all children and young people as they pursue their education.

The additional support required by the child or young person

60. The co-ordinated support plan must describe the additional support required to achieve the educational objectives stated. This will cover teaching and other staffing arrangements, appropriate facilities and resources, including information and communications technology, and any particular approaches to learning and teaching. The statement of support to be provided should be clear and specific and, wherever possible, should be quantified. Everyone should understand and be clear about what is being provided and why it is being provided. Statements such as "learning support as necessary" or "speech and language therapy as required" are too vague to be helpful. Statements such as the following provide a clearer idea about what is being provided:

  • voluntary agency to provide group work in school for two hours per week, approximately, for one term
  • speech and language therapist and classroom assistant will provide weekly therapy within a small group setting for six weeks followed by a specific programme being supported within the mainstream curriculum by the teacher and classroom assistant with a review of outcomes at the end of term.

The persons by whom the support is provided

61. The plan must state the "persons" who should be providing the support. What is meant here are the agencies or professions providing the support, not the actual names of individuals. So, for example, terms such as "visiting teacher of the deaf", "speech and language therapist", "social worker", "clinical psychologist", and "Careers Scotland 15" are acceptable terms. It is neither desirable, nor necessary, to name, for example, the speech and language therapist, since while personnel may change the additional support provided need not.

The nominated school

62. The plan must state the name and address of the school it is intended that the child or young person will attend. If a child or young person is being educated at home under arrangements made by the education authority the plan must state this.

The contact details of the contact person

63. The plan must state the name, address and telephone number of the person in the local authority responsible for providing advice and further information about the co-ordinated support plan to parents and young people.

The contact details of the co-ordinator

64. The plan should state the name, address and telephone number of the person responsible for co-ordinating the provision. The authority can arrange for another person to discharge their co-ordination responsibility and, if so, must provide their nominee's contact details.

Role of co-ordinator

65. The co-ordinator is the person responsible for monitoring provision to ensure that the services required to deliver the additional support identified in the co-ordinated support plan are in place for the child or young person and for taking action to secure services when necessary. Once a plan has been agreed, the co-ordinator should ensure that parents, young people and all those involved in providing additional support know what is required of them under the plan. The Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations make provision for necessary information sharing between appropriate agencies and other parties to enable each to do their part in delivering the necessary support to meet the needs of the child or young person. The co-ordinator and anyone intending to share personal information about the child, young person or their family must consider how the regulations and the wider legal framework for information sharing apply in each individual case.

66. The co-ordinator should be aware of the objectives set out in the plan and be closely involved in working with the team who support the child or young person. The co-ordinator should know the procedures to follow if there is a break in the delivery of necessary services to fulfil educational objectives. For example, if support from external services breaks down due to staff ill health or absence, the co-ordinator must then liaise with the relevant agency to seek to ensure a replacement of services without undue interruption to the provision of those services.

s18(3)(d)(ia)
s19(3)

67. The co-ordinator should note that the Act, as amended, enables parents and young persons to make references to the Tribunal where there is a failure by the education authority to provide, or make arrangements for the provision of, the additional support contained in a co-ordinated support plan which is necessary for the child or young person to achieve their educational objectives. The Act, as amended, enables the Tribunal to require the education authority to take action to rectify the failure by the authority to provide, or make arrangements for the provision of, the additional support contained in a co-ordinated support plan which is necessary for the child or young person to achieve their educational objectives. It also enables the Tribunal to specify a timescale within which such action must be taken.

The role of the co-ordinator

Danny is 10 years old and is looked after away from home and placed with foster carers. He exhibits behaviour difficulties in all situations and requires a high degree of co-ordinated support, for which a co-ordinated support plan is in place.

Danny's attendance at school is becoming increasingly erratic and he displays increasingly confrontational behaviour in class, leading to the possibility of exclusion from school. His class teacher asks his co-ordinator to find out if there is anything happening in Danny's home-life that may be affecting him. The co-ordinator's enquiries of colleagues in the multi-agency team reveal that the family support package has broken down following the departure of his social worker. The co-ordinator contacts the local social work manager and highlights the current difficult situation stressing the need for urgent support.

As an interim measure, the social work manager arranges for Danny to receive support from a children's service worker who has a base at the school. The worker is able to work on a one to one basis with Danny with the aim of calming him down sufficiently, to return to his mainstream class. The school also increases the level of in class support from a classroom assistant. The co-ordinator has arranged to meet with the social work manager in a month's time to review the situation.

68. In addition, the co-ordinator should:

  • maintain regular contact with the child or young person and his/her family
  • be familiar with the school within which the child's or young person's needs are met
  • have a working knowledge of relevant service policies and practices
  • have experience of working with children and young people with additional support needs
  • have experience of compiling and implementing educational support plans (e.g. individualised educational programmes) or health and care plans
  • be able to work with other agencies.

Who can be a co-ordinator?

69. The education authority will appoint a co-ordinator, and this person could be from any agency contributing to the plan, but need not be. The choice of co-ordinator will depend on the nature of the additional support needs and the provision to be put in place for the child or young person. The education authority are not required to seek the parent's or young person's agreement to the person appointed as co-ordinator. However, it would be difficult to envisage how a co-ordinator could fulfil his or her role without having the confidence of the parent or young person. Education authorities should seek and take account of the views of the parent, child and young person when considering appointment of the co-ordinator. The co-ordinator may change in the light of circumstances, for example at transition from one stage of education to another. Where practicable, changes should be kept to a minimum. Where the co-ordinator does change, the co-ordinated support plan must be amended and details circulated. The parent or young person should receive a copy of the updated plan.

70. There are several stages in the preparation of a co-ordinated support plan. These include the discussion which results in the decision to prepare a co-ordinated support plan, the drawing up of the plan, the authorisation of the plan and the co-ordination to ensure the services are available. The co-ordinator could be appointed at any of these stages depending on the procedures in the local authority. Throughout the parent, young person or child should be kept fully informed as to the name and contact details for the person responsible for drawing up the plan, see flowchart following paragraph 33.

Review of the co-ordinated support plan

s10(2)

71. The Act requires that the education authority responsible for the school education of child or young person must keep under consideration the adequacy of each co-ordinated support plan and must formally review each plan at least every 12 months, making appropriate amendments, as necessary. The education authority must have completed the review within 12 weeks on the expiry date which is the anniversary of the date on which the plan was prepared unless any of the various exceptions apply as prescribed in the Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations.

72. Education authorities should ensure that an appropriate review schedule is in place for each plan and that the appropriate agencies, and parents or young person, receive sufficient advance notice of review meetings as appropriate. Paragraphs 8 and 9 of this chapter describe the requirements where a child or young person is receiving school education in an education authority other than the one for the area to which the child or young person belongs.

73. Authorities may carry out a review earlier than 12 months if they feel it necessary or expedient to do so because of a significant change in the child's or young person's circumstances since the plan was prepared or last reviewed. Alternatively a child's parents or the young person may request a review before 12 months have elapsed and authorities must meet this request unless the request is unreasonable. Education authorities should give clear guidance to schools and their staff in this regard.

s11(1), (2) and (3)

74. Before proceeding with any review, the education authority must notify the child's parents or the young person of their proposal and ask them for their views. Parents should be notified about what is likely to happen during the review, such as consideration of:

  • how far the educational objectives have been met
  • the child's or young person's additional support needs
  • the setting of new educational objectives, the support required and the agencies responsible for providing it.

s8(1)(a)(ii) and (b)

75. The parents should also be informed of their right to request an assessment if they feel that what the authority is proposing does not include a particular assessment which they may feel is necessary. For example, a particular child may be receiving support from a physiotherapist and speech and language therapist. The parents may feel that an assessment by an occupational therapist would be helpful and they could request the education authority to arrange this.

76. Monitoring and review arrangements should be agreed amongst the professionals working with the child or family. A person who has regular contact with the child may be identified by the team to help the family to get the most out of the process. The co-ordinated support plan co-ordinator or contact person also has a role to play.

s11(5)

77. Following a review, the education authority must notify the child's parents or the young person of the outcome and of their rights to make a reference to the Tribunal. If the plan has been amended as a result of the review (or subsequent to a requirement made by the Tribunal), the education authority must give a copy of the amended plan to the child's parents or the young person as appropriate. The authority must then ensure that:

  • the additional support they have to provide, as recorded in the plan, is provided, insofar as they have the power to do this
  • the additional support others have to provide, as recorded in the plan, is provided
  • the support above is co-ordinated
  • all providing the support are informed about what the amended plan contains and the implications of this for them.

Sch 1 11A

78. The Act, as amended, provides the President of the Tribunal with the power to monitor the implementation of Tribunal decisions. Following a decision of a Tribunal that requires an education authority to do anything, the President of the Tribunal may require the authority to provide him or her with information about the authority's implementation of the Tribunal decision. This includes information about whether an authority has amended a co-ordinated support plan as required by a Tribunal and carried out the action in paragraph 77 above.

Sch 1 11A
s27 (9), (10) and (11)

79. The Act also provides the President with the power to refer the matter to the Scottish Ministers where he or she is satisfied that the authority are not complying with the Tribunal decision. The Scottish Ministers, in turn, have the power to direct an education authority (or authorities) regarding the exercise of their functions under the Act. Authorities must comply with such a direction. For example, if an authority has failed to amend a co-ordinated support plan following the decision of a Tribunal then it can be directed to do so by the Scottish Ministers.

80. The arrangements described in paragraphs 74 and 77 for notifying parents and the young person about reviews and their outcomes apply also to the managers of independent or grant-aided schools where an authority have responded to their request to establish whether a child or young person would require a co-ordinated support plan if the education authority were responsible for the child or young person's school education

Custody, Transfer, Disclosure, Discontinuance, Preservation and Destruction of the co-ordinated support plan

81. Specific provisions for the custody, transfer, disclosure and discontinuance of co-ordinated support plans are contained in the Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations. In the case of a co-ordinated support plan for a young person, requirements in the Regulations to notify the young person or obtain his or her consent are satisfied by notifying or obtaining the consent of his or her parents where the education authority considers that the young person does not have the capacity (understanding) to consent.

Custody of the co-ordinated support plan

82. The education authority must keep a copy of a co-ordinated support plan, which they prepared, in a place the authority consider appropriate. This would normally be in the appropriate department at the authority's headquarters. The Act provides for a child's parents or the young person to receive a copy of the plan. However, they must also be told where they can inspect free of charge the authority's copy during normal business hours.

83. A copy of a co-ordinated support plan must also be kept at the school attended by the child or young person. How it is kept is a matter for the school to decide bearing in mind that it is a confidential document and should not be disclosed to anyone other than those authorised to see it or have copies of or extracts from it. The co-ordinated support plan will inform classroom planning and practice for the individual child or young person and forms part of the child's or young person's Pupil Progress Record.

Transfer of the co-ordinated support plan

84. When a child or young person with a co-ordinated support plan moves, without any immediate intention of returning, from the area of one education authority to that of another, the education authority who prepared the co-ordinated support plan must transfer it to the new education authority within 4 weeks from either the date of departure notified on which the child or young person will be moving or, if the child or young person has already left the area, from the date the original education authority become aware the move has taken place.

85. From the date of transfer, the co-ordinated support plan is deemed to have been prepared by the receiving education authority. Subject to any review they may initiate, (which they may do immediately if they consider it necessary or expedient as a significant change in the circumstances of the child or young person) the new education authority are bound by the terms of the co-ordinated support plan and the plan must be treated in the same way as any other co-ordinated support plans prepared for children and young people in their area. Any review will be subject to the provision in section 10 of the Act and in the Regulations.

86. As soon as reasonably practicable the new education authority are responsible for notifying the parents or, as appropriate, the young person of the transfer and for informing them that, in future, responsibility for the co-ordinated support plan and providing for the additional support needs of the child or young person rests with the authority. Wherever possible the new education authority should at the same time inform the parents or young person about the co-ordinator within, or appointed by, the new education authority and the person within the receiving authority, from whom the parent or young person can obtain advice and further information.

s12(3A)

87. The Act, as amended, requires that where a child or young person with a co-ordinated support plan moves to a school in the new host authority, as a result of a placing request or simply because the parents have changed their home address, then the new authority are under a duty to seek and take account of information and advice from the education authority from which the co-ordinated support plan was transferred as well as from any agencies or persons involved in providing support under the co-ordinated support plan prior to its transfer. This ensures that the new host authority and the previous authority responsible for the school education of the child or young person are in contact and that the new authority has all the information necessary from the previous authority and the agencies previously supporting the child or young person. This should aim to make the transition from one authority to another as smooth as possible.

s10(1)
s10(5A)

88. For children or young persons with additional support needs who are attending a school outwith the area in which they live following a successful out of area placing request, then the Act, as amended, requires that the duty to keep under review any co-ordinated support plan transfers from the original home authority to the new host authority. The Act, as amended, places a duty on the new host authority to carry out a review of the co-ordinated support plan as soon as possible after the date of any transfer of the co-ordinated support plan from the home authority to the host authority (time limits for conducting this review will be specified in secondary legislation).

89. When a child or young person who has had a co-ordinated support plan in Scotland subsequently moves to England, Wales or Northern Ireland, the education authority which prepared the plan can disclose the plan or extracts from it to the relevant authority for that area, where the original authority considers it necessary to do so in the interests of the child or young person to whom the plan relates. Although the education authority do not have to seek the consent of the child's parents or the young person, it is recommended that they notify the parents or young person of their intentions.

Disclosure of the co-ordinated support plan

90. The co-ordinated support plan is a confidential document but for it to be effective, and by its very nature, the plan or information in it will require to be shared with a range of people. While consideration must be given to the effect sharing certain information may have for the child or young person and their family the co-ordinated support plan should not be a document that is locked away and rarely referred to. As a strategic planning document it should be used and referred to on a regular basis.

91. When education authorities prepare or amend a co-ordinated support plan they must tell the people involved in providing additional support for the child or young person about matters in the plan as they consider appropriate.

92. However, there will be certain persons who would require to have a copy of the actual plan or extracts from it depending on different circumstances. The child's or young person's teacher will need a copy of the plan to help inform planning and monitoring of progress. The appropriate agencies and other persons providing support to help meet the educational objectives may only require to have the part of the co-ordinated support plan containing that information. Education authorities will have to make these decisions based on the individual circumstances of the child or young person.

93. In addition to those providing additional support to the child or young person the Co-ordinated Support Plan Regulations set out those persons to whom education authorities can disclose a co-ordinated support plan or extracts from it without seeking the consent of the child's parents or the young person. These include:

  • those people the education authority think it necessary in the interests of the child or young person
  • the person who will act as the co-ordinated support plan co-ordinator where that is not an education authority officer
  • the Principal Reporter.

94. In terms of good practice, however, it is recommended that education authorities notify parents or young people of their intention to share the plan or extracts and their reasons for disclosure. In making decisions about who should receive a copy of, or extracts from a co-ordinated support plan, education authorities must have regard to not only the Regulations but to the wider legislative framework that covers sharing information, such as the Data Protection Act 1998. Different legislation may apply depending on the individual circumstances of the child or young person, such as whether or not they have social work or health needs. The Resources section contains sources of guidance on information sharing.

95. In all other circumstances, education authorities must not disclose a co-ordinated support plan or extracts from it without first seeking the consent of the parents or young person. Education authorities should reserve the right to request the return of any copies or extracts of co-ordinated support plans.

Discontinuance, preservation and destruction of the co-ordinated support plan

96. Where a co-ordinated support plan is to be discontinued following a review, or where the education authority are no longer responsible for the child's or young person's school education, the discontinued plan must be preserved for a period of 5 years from the date of discontinuance which date must be noted on the plan.

97. If the plan is to be discontinued following a review, the education authority must inform the parents or young person of their decision. The education authority must not discontinue the plan before the expiry of the 2 month period parents and young people have in which to refer the decision to a Tribunal.

98. At the end of the 5 year period the co-ordinated support plan must be destroyed. The education authority should notify the parents or young person that this has happened as soon as reasonable practicable. It may be that after 5 years the whereabouts of the parents or young person are not known. If that is the case, the education authority should take reasonable steps to obtain contact details.

99. Where a Tribunal overturns the education authority's decision to prepare, or continue, a co-ordinated support plan, the education authority must notify the child's parents or the young person when the plan will be discontinued and ask them to let the authority know within 21 days (excluding school holidays) whether they want it to be preserved for a period of 5 years or not. If the answer is yes then the plan must be preserved. If the answer is no, or there is no response, the education authority must destroy the plan and let the parents of the young person know this has happened.

100. During the period that the co-ordinated support plan is preserved, the arrangements for disclosure described in paragraph 90 to 95 above continue to apply.

Getting it right for every child and the co-ordinated support plan

The Getting it right for every child approach

101. In the Getting it right for every child approach, any child or young person who requires additional help should have a plan to address their needs and improve their well-being. This may be a single agency plan such as, for example, in education where a child may have an individualised educational programme because he or she needs support to overcome a learning difficulty. When two or more agencies are involved there will be a multi-agency 'child's plan' co-ordinated by a Lead Professional .

102. Where necessary Getting it right for every child integrates and co-ordinates plans developed by different agencies. It looks to practitioners to work in accordance with legislation and guidance but also expects agencies to think beyond their immediate remit, drawing on the skills and knowledge of others as necessary and thinking in a broad, holistic way. For example, a care plan for a child looked after by the local authority, a health care plan, or an individualised educational programme should be incorporated within the child's plan where the child or young person's circumstances require this.

103. Every plan, whether it is single or multi-agency, should in the Getting it right for every child approach include and record:

  • reasons for the plan
  • partners to the plan
  • the views of the child or young person and their parents or carers
  • a summary of the child or young person's needs
  • what is to be done to improve a child or young person's circumstances
  • details of action to be taken
  • resources to be provided
  • timescales for action and for change
  • contingency plans
  • arrangements for reviewing the plan
  • lead professional arrangements where they are appropriate
  • details of any compulsory measures if required.

Links with the co-ordinated support plan

104. The co-ordinated support plan is a multi-agency plan and because it is statutory it needs to be included along with the child's plan (or be readily extractable from the child's plan) as a stand alone document. The date of the co-ordinated support plan is based on the date it is sent to parents and young person where appropriate. Education authorities must be able to produce this stand alone document to demonstrate adherence to legally specified processes and timescales and also because copies have to be made available to a range of people including parents, children, young people, HM Inspectors of Education, the Tribunal and those whom the authority think should see the plan.

105. Clearly there are significant similarities between the contents of the child's plan and the co-ordinated support plan. However, one important difference is that the co-ordinated support plan is concerned with the additional support a child or young person requires in order to benefit from education. The child's plan, however, potentially covers a wider range of issues related to promoting a child's or young person's wellbeing and it will, therefore, refer to matters not contained in the co-ordinated support plan such as, for example, issues relating to compulsory care measures or child protection. However, it is important that the process of developing the co-ordinated support plan is fully integrated with the planning and review of the child's plan so that, for example, the annual review of the co-ordinated support plan dovetails with the review of the child's plan and so that assessment is carried out in a holistic way as illustrated by the My World Triangle in Chapter 3.