Additional support for learning: guidance on assessing capacity and considering wellbeing

Guidance on the assessment of capacity and consideration of wellbeing in respect of additional support for learning in school education.

Annex A Case Studies

A request for identification of additional support needs and support with outcomes.


Gary is 12 years of age and has recently started at his new secondary school. At primary school, he was achieving well in line with expectations and in secondary, he is now making progress towards attaining outcomes at Third Level, across many of the curriculum areas and in literacy and numeracy. His primary school report specifically mentions his maturity within lessons and his ability to understand challenging problems. After several weeks in secondary school, Gary had his settling in interview with his form tutor, Calum. During the settling in interview, Gary shared with Calum that he was finding it hard to concentrate in lessons, particularly when faced with writing tasks and wasn't managing to complete them all on time. He had asked the class co-operative teacher for some support in English. He asked if he could be assessed for dyslexia, as he said other children in his class got support for their dyslexia. Gary emails this request to Calum.

Following his request, Calum informs Gary's parents that he has requested to use this right, and that he will assess his capacity and any adverse impact on wellbeing. Calum assessed that Gary was mature and showed good understanding, based on evidence from his coursework, and the information from his primary school and from their discussions. Calum considers whether Gary has capacity (sufficient maturity and understanding see chapter 3) to make the request for, and to undertake, the assessment (to act). Calum also considers whether the request of assessment, or the process of assessment, would have an adverse impact on Gary. He discusses this with Gary and concludes that there would be no adverse impact. Gary has indicated he would welcome advocacy support from the Children's Service, to help him to understand the outcome of that assessment. Calum emails Gary and his parents, to inform them of the outcome of the assessment of capacity and considerations on potential adverse impact on wellbeing. Calum then asks his learning support colleagues to assess Gary for dyslexia. He also makes a referral for Gary to receive support from the children's service.

Request for consideration of a co-ordinated support plan for a Looked After Child.


Leeanne has been receiving additional support for autism. Due to a significant change in circumstances, Leeanne has recently become looked after, and is now living in a residential unit. She attends the local secondary school and is aged 15. Due to her rapid change in circumstances, Leeanne has indicated that she needs more support at school. She has spoken with her Care Worker, who says to Leeanne that she should request that a coordinated support plan ( CSP) be prepared, as she is autistic and looked after.

Leeanne speaks to the Principal Teacher of support for learning, Daniel, and says her Care Worker says she should have a CSP. Leeanne says that she thinks she should have a CSP and emails the Principal Teacher to ask to be assessed for this. The Principal Teacher has been working closely with Leeanne, to build her ability to manage her support needs and to support her during her change in circumstances, and knows her very well as a result. Following Leeanne's request, her Principal Teacher informs her Care Worker that that she has requested to use this right, and that he will assess her capacity and any adverse impact on wellbeing.

Leeanne's Principal Teacher views her as having good understanding generally, in terms of comprehension, and also in understanding her own needs. This has been evidenced through various conversations in the last 6 months, and so he concludes that she has capacity, in relation to her decision to request a CSP (to act). He also considers whether there is any potential adverse impact on Leeanne's wellbeing, as a result of making the request. He considers that the circumstances which have led Leeanne to become looked after are very sensitive and may impact on her sense of being nurtured, as the preparation of the information to support the request would revisit those issues. However, on balance, he feels that Leeanne has been very well supported by her Care Worker throughout, to understand her circumstances, and that this would continue. He also considers that instead of an adverse affect, there is possible benefit to Leeanne, of being able to make the request herself, in terms of the Included wellbeing indicator. As a result, on balance, he concludes that she has capacity and that there would be no adverse impact on wellbeing. He informs Leeanne's Care Worker of the outcome of his considerations.

He then passes Leeanne's request to the educational psychology team, along with the information that he has to support her request, including the views that she has expressed to him. The Educational Psychologist responds, indicating that the assessment will go ahead as requested, but that the authority will take the lead in arranging it, in line with their responsibilities to assess whether or not, looked after children require additional support and a co-ordinated support plan.

Request for a review of a co-ordinated support plan, where there is adverse impact on wellbeing.


John is 13 and has complex additional support needs which require significant support from education and another agency, in this case, health. John's co-ordinated support plan ( CSP), details that he should receive weekly speech and language therapy, provided by his classroom assistant, in line with advice and guidance provide by speech and language therapy services. Progress should be reviewed termly, by the allocated speech and language therapist. John has been making progress in his learning and his pronunciation of words has improved over time. John has recently had a significant disagreement with his classroom assistant and no longer wants to work with her on speech and language tasks. John has emailed the education authority officer named on his CSP, to request a review of the CSP, with a view to removing the requirement to provide speech and language therapy.

The education officer recognises that she must assess John's capacity to request the review of the CSP and any potential adverse impact on his wellbeing arising from that request. In order to make these assessments, she requests information from John's parents, school, teachers, and support staff .


When considering John's capacity, the education officer must consider whether John has sufficient maturity and understanding to make this request. The information from John's school indicates that they believe, based on his skills and experiences in learning, his ability to deal with complex problems, and to overcome challenges, that he has capacity to make this request.


All of the wellbeing indicators are considered by the school and they conclude that John's request to review his CSP is likely to have an adverse impact on his wellbeing, as reduction or removal of speech and language therapy, would potentially affect his learning outcomes. Taking all of the information into account the education officer's decision is that whilst John has capacity, there would be adverse impact on wellbeing related to the indicator of achievement. John and his parents are informed of this decision, the result of which is that John is unable to exercise this particular right at this time.

John's parents believe that John should be able to exercise his rights as he wishes. They agree with the education authority's decision on capacity, but disagree with their conclusion on adverse impact on wellbeing. They support John to make a reference to the Tribunal to challenge the education authority's conclusion, in relation to adverse impact on wellbeing (under section 18(3)(eb).

John is supported to make his reference using legal representation services, provided as part of the children's service.

The Tribunal

The Tribunal considers the reference using a Convener sitting alone. She first, as a preliminary matter, considers the written evidence in relation to John's capacity and decides that no further evidence is required. She determines that John has capacity to make the reference. She considers whether there would be an adverse impact on John's wellbeing as a result of making the reference to the Tribunal. She assesses the written evidence and considers John's views, which are set out in a report to the Tribunal by his independent advocate and determines that there will be no adverse impact on John's wellbeing, as a result of making the reference.

The Convener then considers the subject matter of the reference. The Convener considers the reasons for the decision of the education authority and reviews the written evidence provided to her by both parties (John's legal representative and the education authority). Her conclusion, based on the balance of the evidence presented, is that the decision of the education authority is confirmed.

She notifies John's legal representative and the education authority of the decision. This confirms that John is unable to exercise his right to review the co-ordinated support plan at this time. The Convener notes in her decision, that John may benefit from the support of advocacy services provided by the Children's Service, to understand and come to terms with this decision.

Request for independent adjudication - conclusion that there is not capacity and there is adverse impact on wellbeing.


Omar is 12 years old and has social, emotional and behavioural needs. He is in first year at his local secondary school. Omar was adopted from an orphanage overseas at age 4. It is known that he has experienced trauma, but the details of this are not fully known. Omar can have difficulty concentrating and at times, regulating his own behaviour. He can respond impulsively if challenged. Omar spends 6 hours per week, spread across 4 days, in the Support for Learning base within the school, to ensure that he is able to focus on and complete learning tasks. He checks in with support staff on the day which he doesn't attend the base, and he can attend the base at any time if needed, to support both positive relationships with classmates and behaviours in class. On the whole, Omar is progressing well with his learning.

Omar has asked for extra time in the base. Following his request, his parents are advised that that he has requested to use this right, and that an assessment of capacity and a consideration of wellbeing will be carried out. This has been declined by the school, as it would affect his ability to attend a wide range of curricular subjects and would narrow the breadth of his learning. It was felt, on balance, that he is making good progress across subjects and that the focus on this approach should be sustained. Omar and his parents are advised of the decision.

Omar has decided that he would like to make an application for independent adjudication, to challenge this decision (under 2(a) of the specified matters). He lets his Form Tutor know that he wants to do this by email. Following his request, his parents are advised that that he has requested to use this right, and that an assessment of capacity and a consideration of wellbeing will be carried out. In order to support the education authority's decision on Omar's capacity to make that request (to act), his Form Tutor gathers evidence from colleagues, including support for learning staff. He is confident that he will be able to evidence that Omar would have the understanding to make the request, but there is concern that he may not have the maturity to do so, and so he seeks specific information on this also. As a result of the information he receives from colleagues, he is able to conclude that Omar does not have sufficient maturity, at this time, to make the request. He therefore concludes that Omar does not have capacity.

Omar's Form Tutor then considers whether making the application for independent adjudication would have an adverse impact on wellbeing. It is considered that the only area where there would be any concern regarding adverse impact on wellbeing, is in relation to the safe wellbeing indicator. While there is no risk to Omar, the need for him to prepare biographical information about himself and his needs, as part of his evidence to support his independent adjudication application, may cause him to revisit some very difficult past events, which may undermine his current sense of safety, albeit temporarily. Therefore, the decision is reached that there would be adverse impact on Omar's wellbeing.

Omar and his parents are informed of these decisions by the education authority. Omar and his family have a discussion as a result, and it is decided that instead, Omar's parents will pursue the independent adjudication application, in relation to Omar's support.


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