Section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980: guidance on making a complaint

Guidance to support those who are considering or who have made a complaint under Section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980.

How to make a complaint

You can make a complaint to the Scottish Ministers by writing directly to the Scottish Government. An application form is available at the end of this guidance and on the Scottish Government website at the following link:

Complaints can be made to the address detailed below.

The Scottish Ministers
Learning Directorate
Victoria Quay


The Scottish Government currently fund Govan Law Centre's Education Law Unit ( to provide advice and support to parents or young people on any aspect of education law, which includes Section 70 complaints. Anyone considering making a complaint under section 70 may wish to contact the Education Law Unit on 0141 445 1955.

The section 70 process is an evidence-based process which may result in an order being made by the Scottish Ministers to carry out the duty. As such, you should ask yourself the following questions before submitting a complaint:

Have I detailed the sections of legislation which I believe the responsible body has failed to carry out?

It is vital that when making a complaint, it is clear which sections of legislation you believe the responsible body has failed to carry out. Providing this information will ensure that your complaint is focused specifically on the alleged failed duties and will allow the responsible body to respond directly to the claim.

Where it is not clear which sections of the legislation you believe the responsible body has failed to carry out, the complaint will be returned to you with a request for clarification.

Have I provided evidence to support my claims and does it relate specifically to the alleged failure to discharge duties?

The section 70 process is evidence based and the Scottish Ministers will consider the evidence provided to determine whether or not they believe a responsible body has failed to carry out a duty. Therefore, it is important that the evidence you provide relates specifically to the duties you believe have not been complied with. The evidence you provide should relate directly to the alleged duty failure. In most circumstances evidence could be any of the following:

  • Minutes of meetings
  • Educational Plan
  • Official correspondence from the school or education authority
  • Copies of correspondence to school or education authority

These should support your summary of the alleged failure.

If the complaint refers to an alleged failure of more than one section of the legislation, you must provide evidence in support of each of the alleged failures. The evidence should be clearly labeled to show which section of the legislation it refers to, although it may refer to more than one section. As you may want to provide a large volume of evidence, you may want to consider presenting the evidence in chronological order with a covering summary or contents page.

What do I want to happen as a result of making a section 70 complaint?

If the Scottish Ministers are satisfied that a responsible body has failed to carry out their statutory duties, they may make an order declaring the responsible body to be in default in respect of the duty and requiring them to discharge the duty. Where they make such an order, the responsible body will be required to discharge that duty by a specified timescale.

Potential users of the section 70 process may wish to consider if there are alternate mechanisms (detailed on pages 5-8) they can use which:

  • are able to resolve their concern at a more local level;
  • may result in a more agreeable outcome to them (apology from responsible body, recommendations from education professionals, decision from Tribunal, financial compensation etc.);
  • will resolve their concerns in a faster timescale.

As section 70 can only investigate alleged failures of responsible bodies in relation to their duties under education legislation, it cannot be used to investigate matters that fall outside of this. You may wish to consider if the other mechanisms outlined on pages 5-8 would be more appropriate.

In addition, as the section 70 process can only investigate current, alleged failures, it cannot be used to investigate historic matters. For example, it may be alleged that a responsible body has previously failed to carry out an assessment of a child's additional support needs. However, if the responsible body has now carried out this assessment, the previous alleged failure cannot be investigated under section 70.


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