New rights for children with additional support needs

Law scrollThe Education (Scotland) Act 2016 – what’s it all about?

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 is a new law brought in by the Scottish Government to support a range of improvements to Scottish education including: improving the attainment of pupils from poorer backgrounds;  widening access to gaelic medium education; giving children a voice in matters that affect them; and extending the rights of children with additional support needs. It will also streamline the process of making a complaint to Scottish Ministers. (This is called a Section 70 complaint as it comes from Section 70 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980).

The new duties in the Act that relate to raising attainment support the National Improvement Framework that was launched recently. The framework incorporates, amongst other drivers, the assessment of children’s  literacy and numeracy at four key stages –  P1, P4, P7 and S3. Results from these assessments will be analysed at school, local authority and national level to monitor progress and ensure improvements are being made.

How does the Act affect children with additional support needs specifically?

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, parents, carers and pupils over the age of 16 with capacity (which means they understand what is being asked and any decision made) have certain rights relating to education and additional support. These include the right to:

  • ask the education authority to find out whether they, or their child, has additional support needs
  • ask for a specific type of assessment to find out what their, or their child’s, additional support needs are
  • be given information or advice about their, or their child, additional support needs
  • ask the local authority responsible for their, or their child’s, education to find out whether they require a co-ordinated support plan, and review an existing plan
  • request a specific type of assessment to find out if they, or their child, require a co-ordinated support plan
  • be asked for their, or their child’s, views and have them taken into account and noted in the co-ordinated support plan
  • a copy of their, or their child’s, co-ordinated support plan
  • have their, or their child’s, case heard by an Additional Support Needs Tribunal if they are involved in a dispute relating to a co-ordinated support plan or the education authority’s decision to refuse a placing request

The Education (Scotland) Act 2016 will extend these rights to children who are 12 and over and have capacity. It is hoped that by extending these rights to younger pupils, they will be able to influence decisions about the identification, planning and review of their needs. This move is significant for Scotland’s development of  more rights for children.

Disabled boy working out with trainer.How will children and young people be supported to use their new rights?

The Act also sets in place plans for a new service for children and young people. The support service will offer advice, information and assistance to help children understand and make use of their rights. It will also provide advocacy (if the child wants it) to support them in any meetings between themselves and the local authority.

When do these rights come into force?

These new rights will be implemented at the start of 2018. Enquire will update this post as more information becomes available.

Where can I find more information about what this means for me and my child?helpline

If you have any questions about you or your child’s rights to education or additional support contact Enquire’s helpline on 0345 123 2303.

More information about additional support needs  in general can be found in our Parents’ Guide or in our 17 factsheets. Visit out children and young people’s website for a range of guides to help pupils themselves understand their rights to additional support for learning.



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