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ASL summary

Summary of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 came into effect on November 14 2005.

The Act replaces the system for the assessment and recording of children and young people with special educational needs, including records of needs, and introduces a new system for identifying and addressing the additional support needs of children and young people who face a barrier to learning (references to young people are to those aged 16 or 17 and still receiving school education).

The Act encompasses any need that requires additional support in order for the child or young person to learn. It places duties on local authorities and requires other bodies and organisations to help.

In providing school education, local authorities are required to identify and then make adequate and efficient provision for the additional support needs of children and young people. Parents can ask a local authority to establish whether their child has additional support needs and whether they require a co-ordinated support plan (CSP).

A co-ordinated support plan must be prepared for those with enduring complex or multiple needs that require support from outwith education services. The plan will focus on supporting the child to achieve learning outcomes and assist the co-ordination of services from a range of providers. Mediation, dispute and appeal procedures are provided.

The new term 'additional support needs'

The previously-used term 'special educational needs' traditionally only applies to children and young people with particular types of learning needs. The new concept of 'additional support needs' refers to any child or young person who, for whatever reason, requires additional support for learning. Additional support needs can arise from any factor which causes a barrier to learning, whether that factor relates to social, emotional, cognitive, linguistic, disability, or family and care circumstances. For instance, additional support may be required for a child or young person who is being bullied, has behavioural difficulties, has learning difficulties, is a parent, has a sensory or mobility impairment, is at risk, or is bereaved.

There will be many other examples besides these. Some additional support needs will be long term while others will be short term. The effect they have will vary from child to child. In all cases though, it is how these factors impact on the individual child's learning that is important and this will determine the level of support required.

New duties on local authorities and others

Local authorities must

  • make adequate and efficient provision for each child or young person with additional support needs, for whose education they are responsible
  • keep under consideration the needs and the adequacy of support for each child or young person with additional support needs
  • take account of additional support needs of children in providing school education generally
  • provide appropriate additional support for disabled children under 3 (or under 5 if not in a public or partnership nursery), where the child has been referred by a health authority and has additional support needs
  • put in place arrangements to identify additional support needs and to consider if a child requires a CSP
  • meet requests from parents and act on referrals from others (unless unreasonable) to identify a child's additional support needs or establish if they require a CSP
  • prepare a CSP if it is established that a child or young person requires one
  • when preparing or reviewing a CSP, tell parents about this, inform them of the outcome and of their rights of appeal, and provide them with a copy of the CSP
  • keep under consideration the adequacy of each CSP and formally review each CSP at least every 12 months, making appropriate adjustments
  • review a CSP earlier than 12 months if there has been a significant change in the child's circumstances or if parents request this (unless the request is unreasonable)
  • seek and take account of advice and information (including formal assessments) from other agencies (eg health, social work services)
  • seek and take account of views of the child and their parents, and any information they may provide, such as an independent assessment report.
  • publish their policy and arrangements for identifying and addressing additional support needs, what the role and rights of parents and children are and whom parents should contact to obtain information and advice
  • provide independent mediation and dispute resolution services for all parents of children with additional support needs and publish information on these services
  • when there are transitions between schools, local authorities must ensure that information about children with additional support needs is forwarded in good time to the next school
  • request, and take account of, information and advice from agencies likely to support the child when he or she leaves school in providing adequate additional support in the period up to leaving school; this must all be done at least 12 months prior to the expected school leaving date
  • provide information to whichever agencies will be responsible for supporting the young person once they leave school, including further education colleges, if the young person agrees; this must be at least six months before the young person leaves school to allow preparation and planning with other agencies for a continuing support
  • ensure that the provision made for those with a record of needs is not reduced before consideration for a CSP Plan has taken place (unless there is a significant change in the needs of the child or young person)
Other provisions

Other agencies have duties to help each local authority discharge its duties under this Act unless the request for help is incompatible with the agency's duties or unduly prejudices the agency in its discharge of its own functions. For the purposes of the Act other agencies include any other local authority, any Health Board or any other agency specified by the Scottish Ministers, which may include, for example, Careers Scotland and further education colleges. Each local authority's social work services are considered to be another agency for the purposes of the Act.

In addition, local authorities will have the power to help children with additional support needs who are not in the public education system (other than disabled children under 5 referred to them - there is a duty towards those children). For children not yet old enough for school or nursery, this will be whatever type of learning support and advice is appropriate for that child

New rights for parents

Parents have a number of new rights under the Act and more detail can be found on the Parentzone website.

A new Code of Practice

Rather than guidance, a code of practice has been issued. The Act sets out the key topics included in the code. The code has been developed in collaboration with service users and providers. It sets minimum standards and aims to promote more and better joint planning and partnership working among agencies, and consistency across Scotland.

Better planning and preparation for post-school

Instead of the formal future needs sssessment process, currently for those young people with a record of needs, there will be a more person-centred system to provide for all the young people who may need extra support on leaving school. The aim is to provide for continuing support that ensures the young person's interests are given greater consideration.

Planning and preparing a young person for post-school life will involve any agency that will become responsible for supporting the young person once he or she leaves school. This could be input from a social worker, an occupational therapist or from Careers Scotland or a further education college, for example. The local authority must also obtain information about the provision other agencies plan to make for the needs of the young person once they have left school, and plan accordingly to prepare the young person and to support the transition to these other services. The emphasis is on co-operation among all parties concerned, to ensure these transitions are as smooth as possible. This must all be done at least 12 months before the young person is expected to leave school.

Local authorities should then take account of this information and consider the additional support to be provided for the child or young person in the period before they leave school. The should also take account of the child or young person's (and their parent's) views and the provision that the authority is expected to make after school.

In addition, local authorities must provide information to whichever agencies will be responsible for supporting the young person once they leave school, including further education colleges, if the young person agrees. This must be at least six months before the young person leaves school to allow preparation and planning with other agencies for continuing support.

The new co-ordinated support plan (CSP)

This is the new statutory planning document for children and young people with enduring complex or multiple barriers to learning who need a range of additional support from different services. Co-ordination of the services is required where the local authority needs help from others both within the authority itself, such as social work, or from outside agencies, such as health. It will plan long term and strategically for the achievement of learning outcomes, rather than focusing on deficits and weaknesses, as the record of needs did.

The CSP must contain:

  • the reasons for the individual's additional support needs
  • details of the educational objectives
  • details of the additional support required to achieve the objectives and who will provide it
  • details of the person responsible for co-ordinating the CSP
  • details of the person parents can contact for information and advice
  • the name of the child's or young person's school

Everyone involved in supporting the child's or young person's learning needs will have the opportunity to be involved in drawing up the CSP, reviewing it and making provision. The local authority will have responsibility for the CSP and for ensuring the co-ordination of the support detailed in it. However, the co-ordinator role (the person who will manage the day-to-day implementation) can be delegated to an individual outside education if he or she is more appropriate for the child or young person, such as a health worker or social worker who may have involvement with the wider family.

New Additional Support Needs Tribunals

The new tribunals are independent and have an expertise that equips them to hear appeals relating to children and young people who have complex needs. The tribunals have been designed to operate in a user-friendly way and will aim to be less intimidating for parents and children than a more traditional court setting. The tribunals are able to consider aspects relating to CSPs, including provision, and are able to direct local authorities to take action to prepare, review or close a CSP or to amend the contents. Ultimate responsibility for the CSP lies with local authorities. Where a tribunal has directed a local authority to amend the content of a plan, other agencies will have a duty to assist local authorities in implementing the changed plan.