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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 6 Transitions

1. School education is organised in such a way that all children and young people experience transitions as they move through the various stages of schooling. These transitions include entry to pre-school provision, transfer to primary school and through the different stages of primary and secondary school and, in particular, to post-school provision. Some may experience changes in their school education at other times with a transfer to another school or a break in their school education. Early or timely planning is required to ensure continuity and progression between stages or breaks in education. This chapter considers the requirements on education authorities and others under the Act in relation to transitions.

2. Some changes in school education may involve irregular transition experiences through, for example, exclusions and school closures. Where these involve a child or young person with additional support needs, the education authority and other agencies should take account of the way these changes affect the planning of the support needs for the child's or young person's school education.

Planning for changes in school education

3. Education authorities should have appropriate arrangements in place to ensure that changes in school education for all children and young people can be as smooth as possible. Effective planning helps to promote shared understanding and close communication among all relevant persons and above all helps to ensure that any required action is co-ordinated appropriately. An education authority's routine arrangements should enable schools to provide sufficient support for the majority of children and young people faced with changes in school education. In some circumstances, education authorities will require to involve other agencies to ensure that the transition process is effective for certain children and young people with additional support needs.

4. The Act is supported by the Changes in School Education Regulations which are referred to here 16. The regulations specify the action that the education authority must take at various transition points in a child's or young person's school career.

5. It should be noted that in setting out below the duties and arrangements for transitions the education authority have some discretion about the particular children or young people to whom these duties apply under the Act. The reason for this is that it would be burdensome and unnecessary to apply these duties and arrangements to every child and young person with additional support needs given that some additional support needs may be transitory and/or relatively minor. It will be for those working with the child taking into account the views of the parents and child to decide whether the duties described below apply; young people have the same rights as parents under the Act. However, it is anticipated that the transitional duties will apply to all those children and young people with additional support needs who:

  • have a co-ordinated support plan
  • are in a specialist placement such as a specialist unit or a day or residential special school
  • have additional support needs arising from a disability within the meaning of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
  • are otherwise at risk of making a successful transition.

Starting nursery school

Reg 3 (1) and (2)

6. When a child starts receiving school education in pre-school provision, usually at the age of 3 years, in a school under the management of an education authority or where an authority have entered into arrangements with an establishment to provide school education, then the Regulations require that the education authority must seek and take account of relevant advice and information from appropriate agencies and other persons before the child is expected to begin receiving school education. The appropriate agency most likely to be involved is an NHS Health Board. Advice should also be sought from the authority's own social work services if necessary.

7. The authority should take the above steps no later than 6 months before the child is due to start at the pre-school provision; they may do it earlier if they wish. However, if they only become aware of the circumstances less than 6 months before the child is due to start at the pre-school provision then they should take action as soon as possible.

Reg 3 (2)(a) (b) and (4)

8. The requirement to seek relevant information and advice applies to such agencies and other persons as the authority consider appropriate (see paragraph 5 above). Where the education authority seek advice and information from other appropriate agencies or other persons then the Regulations require the authority also to seek and take account of the views of the child (if the child is able to express a view) and the child's parent before starting school. The authority has discretion about whether or not to seek the views of a particular child and clearly it may be considered that a very young child lacks the capacity to provide an informed view and should, therefore, not be asked for one.

Reg 3

9. The advice and information is relevant where it is likely to assist the education authority in:

  • establishing the child's additional support needs
  • determining the provision of additional support required
  • considering the adequacy of the additional support provided.

Reg 4 (2)

10. No later than 3 months before the child is due to commence at pre-school provision the education authority must inform these agencies about:

  • the date education is due to commence
  • the child's additional support needs
  • the additional support provided to the child during the 3 months immediately prior to providing the information to the appropriate agency.

11. As above, if they only become aware of the circumstances less than 3 months before the child is due to start at the pre-school provision then the authority should take action as soon as possible.

12. The education authority must seek the consent of the child's parents before passing on information. Copies of any information passed on to an appropriate agency should be sent to the parents at the same time as it is sent to the appropriate agency.

Pre-school to primary school; primary school to secondary school

13. The above duties apply also to children transferring from pre-school provision to primary school and from primary school to secondary school. However, the timescales are different. The duty to seek and take account of information and advice should be completed no later than 12 months before the change of school is anticipated, not 6 months as above, and the duty to provide information should be completed no later than 6 months before the anticipated change of school, not 3 months as above. As above, if the authority cannot meet these timescales because they were not made aware of the proposed change in school education in time then they should take steps to fulfil the requirements as soon as possible.

14. Where an education authority transfer a child to another school under their management then the above duties also apply.

15. As above, where the education authority seek advice and information from other appropriate agencies or other persons then the Regulations require the authority also to seek and take account of the views of the child (if the child is able to express a view) and the child's parent before starting the new provision. The education authority must also seek the consent of the child's parents before passing on information to an appropriate agency. Copies of any information passed on to an appropriate agency should be sent to the parents at the same time as it is sent to the appropriate agency. Young people have the same rights as parents under the arrangements for transitions, in particular with regard to giving consent for the sharing of information regarding their additional support needs.

Co-ordinated support plan

16. There are particular requirements applying to children and young people with co-ordinated support plans who transfer from a school in one authority to a school in another authority either as a result of a placing request or because of a change of residence. These are referred to in Chapter 5, paragraphs 84-88.

Good practice

17. Education authorities should take account of the following principles of good practice whenever a child or young person with additional support needs is approaching a transition point in their school education:

  • transition planning should be embedded within the education authority's policies and procedures for additional support needs
  • other agencies, such as health and social work services, Skills Development Scotland (Careers), Further Education Colleges and Institutions of Higher Education should also be involved in transition planning where required
  • the child's or young person's views should be sought and taken into account when discussing changes in school education
  • parents should be part of the planning process, and their views should be sought, and taken account of, and they should receive support, as required, during the transition process
  • early consultation should take place with the school or post-school provision, which the child or young person will be attending
  • schools should plan to ensure that the necessary support is in place for children who have additional support needs to help them through the transition phase to their new school or provision
  • professionals from all agencies working with the child and family should plan in good time for transition to future services
  • transition should be co-ordinated by a relevant person known to the child or young person and their family
  • where a child or young person has a co-ordinated support plan then any anticipated change in the statutory co-ordinator should be discussed with the child or young person, and parents, as far in advance of the change as possible.

Sarah had a straightforward primary school experience and untroubled family life until the start of P7 when her mother died unexpectedly. Sarah's schoolwork suffered and she became withdrawn. Her father became concerned about how she would cope with transferring to secondary school. Relevant staff in the secondary school, who prior to transfer routinely visited all P7 classes of associated primary schools, were made aware of the situation. The secondary school staff arranged that Sarah would be in a form class along with some of her close friends when she transferred and agreed to pay particular attention to Sarah over the initial stages of the transition.

Preparing for Adulthood

18. Education authorities and schools should be able to address the requirements of most children and young people with additional support needs, as they approach the end of their school education, through the school's routine vocational guidance arrangements and Skills Development Scotland (Careers). Preparation for adulthood should involve explicit recognition of the strengths, abilities, wishes and needs of the child or young person as well as identification of relevant support strategies which may be required. It is essential that there is good communication between the child or young person and parents and all supporting agencies. Information should be shared promptly and effectively, with the child's, parents', or young person's consent. Where a child has sufficient capacity to consent their consent should also be sought in addition to that of the parents.

19. In their final years at school, children and young people with additional support needs should engage in the transitional planning process to help them to prepare their plans for the next stage in their education, training or employment. For example:

  • some young people may need to develop independence skills so that they manage money more effectively, learn to travel independently to placements, check a bus timetable and ask for information
  • some may need help to organise how they will interact with their new educational provision and/or their work commitments

20. Whatever children and young people require to learn in order to make the transition successful should, in good practice, be planned for carefully and in a timely manner.

Zahir is following an HNC programme in information systems. He has Asperger's Syndrome. He came from a mainstream school where he received one-to-one support and achieved standard grades at general level. A year prior to leaving school he applied to attend a further education college. A transition programme was agreed by Zahir, his parents, teachers, social worker and college learning support staff. Short and long term targets were agreed for a structured transition period and regular meetings were held with all relevant parties. As a result the school was able to help Zahir to make a successful transition to college and the college was able to prepare a learning programme and support arrangements appropriate for his learning needs.

21. Effective transition can involve a range of strategies. The school should ensure that the child or young person has sufficient information and understanding, within their programme of learning, on which to base decisions about the relevant choices of training or work placements and college or higher education courses. This process of transitional planning should start at an early point in his or her secondary schooling, for example, prior to subject choices being made for externally validated course work. Opportunities to sample options should be made available through visits or work experience relevant to the young person's aspirations and interests in order that the child or young person can be involved in making fully informed choices. A phased entry to college, training placement or workplace, for one or two days a week, while continuing at school for the remainder of the week would be an appropriate approach to making the this transitional step less threatening for the young person than an abrupt change to full-time attendance at a new provision.

More Choices More Chances

22. Encouraging all young people to stay in learning post-16 is the best way of ensuring their long-term employability and contribution to society. 16+ Learning Choices and the entitlement to a Senior Phase of Education supports this aspiration within Curriculum for Excellence. There are three key elements:

  • the right learning provision must be in place - a range of options, including staying on at school, entering further or higher education, participating in the national training programmes, or taking part in personal and social development opportunities offered through community learning and development, must be available to each young person, or a flexible programme sharing several of these elements
  • the right financial support must be available to ensure that young people make choices based on the most appropriate learning for them, rather than on the amount of money offered
  • the right information, advice and guidance must be available early enough to make sure that young people know what opportunities are on offer, how those fit with their own needs and ambitions, and how they will be able to progress through and beyond these opportunities to sustain positive life outcomes.

More Choices, More Chances

More Choices, More Chances 17, the Government's strategy to reduce the proportion of young people not in education, employment and training, recognises key features of effective school to post-school transition:

  • identifying every young person (in school; not attending/excluded from school; in alternative provision) before they reach the stage where they will be progressing beyond schooling, at a time most appropriate to their needs, and ensuring they receive the information, advice and guidance they need to secure an appropriate opportunity to progress post-16
  • where the young person has additional support needs, using the statutory measures in the ASL Act, and the advice in the code of practice, to ensure the arrangements for school to post-school transition are planned well in advance; that these arrangements are clear and well-understood by all involved
  • making an offer, well in advance of a young person's intention to progress beyond secondary schooling, of a programme of learning - which could include staying on at school as all or part of the programme offered to them- taking into account their individual learning and support needs and appropriate financial support
  • ensuring there is sufficient, appropriate provision to meet the needs of all young people in the local area; in particular, identifying and filling gaps between what young people want and the currently available programmes and measures of support
  • supporting the transitional planning and providing continued support to monitor and sustain positive progressions, including early warning systems to prevent drop-out.

23. For most young people with additional support needs, the transition process is helped by the involvement of a lead professional to co-ordinate planning. This might be a teacher, careers adviser, social worker, community education worker or someone from another agency. The lead professional can then assist the child or young person to make a smooth transition to employment, training, further or higher education, or other services. Where a child or young person has a co-ordinated support plan, their co-ordinator should take the lead in ensuring that all relevant agencies are brought together to plan for transition to post-school and plan for the transfer of the lead person to someone who will effect that transfer.

24. The Support and Assistance of Young People Leaving Care (Scotland) Regulations 2003 set out particular duties placed on local authorities to provide advice, guidance and assistance to children and young people who are looked after or who have ceased to be looked after over school age. As well as stressing the need for education and social work staff to work closely together to ensure that young people achieve their maximum potential whilst within the education system, local authorities are also encouraged to work closely with Skills Development Scotland (Careers) to support young people in making their choices for education and training.

Duties on education authorities and others under the Act

25. The Act requires education authorities to take specific action to help young people with additional support needs to make the transition from school to post-school life successfully. It places a duty on the education authority to request information from appropriate agencies, if any, which are likely to be involved with the child or young person on leaving school. The appropriate agencies, all in Scotland, which may be involved are:

  • any NHS Board
  • any other local authority
  • Skills Development Scotland (Careers)
  • any Further Education College
  • any Institution of Higher Education.

26. The duties apply to children and young people for whose school education the authority are responsible. The Act gives the education authority discretion about which appropriate agency (if any) requires to be approached to provide information (see paragraph 5). The authority should seek information from an appropriate agency or agencies whose help will assist the child or young person with additional support needs in the move to post-school provision. It is anticipated that education authorities will seek information from another appropriate agency, or agencies, in the case of most children and young people with co-ordinated support plans.

s12(6)(c)(ii)

27. The education authority must seek and take account of the views of the child, where he or she is capable of expressing these, the child's parents and the young person (or the young person's parent where the young person lacks the capacity to express his/her views). Although the Regulations do not require that information should only be sought with the consent of the child's parent or the young person (or the young person's parent where the young person is not able to give consent) in good practice education authorities working in partnership with parents and young people should aim to secure consent. A situation could arise where the child wishes information sought from another appropriate agency, or agencies, and the child's parents do not (or vice versa). The education authority should, in deciding what course of action to take under the circumstances, consider the best interests of the child or young person as well as the child's or young person's capacity to express a view, and act accordingly.

28. The purpose of obtaining such information from an appropriate agency, or agencies, is to enable the education authority to consider the adequacy and appropriateness of additional support provided by the education authority and other services in the period up to the child or young person progressing beyond school; ultimately this is to support the process of ensuring a good match between their needs and options for subsequent support. These options include provision which may be made by an appropriate agency, or agencies, as well as any provision which the local authority make for the child or young person on leaving school; this provision includes, for example, that made by social services or housing.

s12(6)(c)(i)

29. This process of seeking and taking account of information from an appropriate agency, or agencies, and the other requirements referred to above, must be completed no later than 12 months before the date a child or young person with additional support needs is expected to cease receiving school education. However, this means that the process will require to be started well in advance of the 12 month period to be carried out effectively for the benefit of the child or young person. There will be circumstances, where the education authority has less than 12 months to carry out these functions in which case they should be carried out as soon as reasonably practical after they become aware of the fact that the child or young person is to cease receiving school education.

s13(1)and (2)

30. The Act also requires the education authority to pass on information to appropriate agencies (if any), no later than 6 months before the child or young person is expected to progress beyond school. Where an authority find that a child or young person is expected to leave school within 6 months, then it must pass that information on to appropriate agencies as soon as is reasonably practicable after they become aware of the fact. This information includes:

  • the child's or young person's expected date of progression beyond school
  • any provision the local authority may make when the child or young person leaves school such as, for example, through social work or housing
  • any other information that the authority thinks will help appropriate agencies to make provision.

s13(5)

31. However, any information can only be provided with the consent of the child's parent or the young person or the young person's parent where the young person is not able to give consent.

s13(4A)

32. The Act, as amended, places education authorities under a duty to seek and take account of the child's views (unless the authority are satisfied that the child lacks capacity to express a view) in relation to any information to be provided to an appropriate agency or agencies under the Act regarding the child leaving school

Monitoring and review

33. Education authorities should ensure that the arrangements required for transition to post-school are clear so that the child or young person, and all those involved, know exactly what is happening, when it is happening, and who is responsible. The effectiveness of the action required should be monitored by a lead person and reviewed if there is a change of circumstances, or if the child or young person requests an alteration. Where the child or young person has a co-ordinated support plan the education authority has a duty to review any co-ordinated support plan at least every 12 months. Such a review should help inform action to be taken prior to a child or young person, with a co-ordinated support plan, progressing beyond school. All relevant information in the co-ordinated support plan should be incorporated into the transition planning process.

Tribunal

s18(3)(g)

34. The Act, as amended, allows the Tribunal to consider references in relation to an authority's failure to comply with any of its duties in terms of post-school transitions under sections 12(5) and (6) and 13 of the 2004 Act and described in paragraphs 25-32 above. The exception to this would be where the parents or young person have not given permission for the education authority to provide information to an appropriate agency or agencies.

Mediation and dispute resolution

35. The Act also enables parents and young people to use the arrangements in place for mediation or dispute resolution where they have concerns about how an authority has carried out their arrangements for all transitions (see Chapter 8).

Stuart has Down's Syndrome and is in a stable long term foster placement. At Stuart's transitional review meeting at the end of S3, it was agreed in discussion with Stuart and his foster parents that he would like to pursue a career in gardening and landscaping. Stuart was still developing his skills in literacy and numeracy, particularly in the use and handling of money. It was agreed with Stuart and his foster parents that he should:

  • stay on at school beyond 16 on a part-time basis to continue developing his literacy skills
  • consider attending college part-time to pursue his horticultural studies and to continue to develop his numeracy skills
  • have extended work experience with the council landscaping department in conjunction with his college course
  • continue to have support from the transitions social worker in relation to coordinating the community activities for Stuart, linking with the college facilities for sport and leisure.

With his foster parents' permission it was agreed that the college would be sent information about Stuart's progress in school, his interest in pursuing a course at college and the transitional arrangements being put in place. The college will be asked about the arrangements which may be made for Stuart in college and about what provision should be made in school to prepare Stuart for attending college and having a successful transition.