Chapter 3: Eligibility for additional support

Eligibility for early learning and childcare – all children

In Scotland, funded early learning and childcare is available in a number of settings:

  • A local authority nursery or pre-school class in a primary school or special school
  • A private nursery working in partnership with your local authority
  • A private nursery where your local authority has agreed to pay fees
  • A child and family centre.

Some two-year-olds (those who are looked after, have a kinship care order, have a parent-appointed guardian or whose parents receive certain benefits) are entitled to 600 hours a year of early learning and childcare. You can find out if your child qualifies by contacting your local authority. A child who is entitled would start the first term after their second birthday.

All three- and four-year-olds are entitled to a funded part-time (600 hours a year) pre-school education place. They can start the next term after their third birthday. Sometimes a child can start from the date of their third birthday so it is worth asking about this.

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Who is eligible for additional support?

If your child is receiving their funded hours (or is about to start pre-school), the following applies:

Children up to the age of three

Your local authority must provide appropriate additional support to help your child’s development if they have additional support needs due to a disability. ‘Disability’ is defined in the Equality Act 2010. See the chapter on ‘Equality of opportunity’.

The local authority should also provide additional support for two-year-old looked after children receiving their funded hours of early learning and childcare.

The local authority can also provide additional support for children under three who have not been diagnosed with a disability but who may benefit from getting additional support early; however, it is not legally obliged to provide that support.

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Pre-school children

Your local authority must identify whether your child has additional support needs and, if so,  give them the appropriate support. Enquire has more information in Factsheet 10: Early learning and childcare

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School-age children

Your local authority must identify whether your child has additional support needs and provide them with the appropriate support if they:

  • attend or are registered with a school run by your authority
  • receive education in another local authority school under arrangements made by your own authority
  • have been placed at an independent special school or grant-aided school by your local authority.

Your local authority must provide your child with ‘adequate and efficient’ additional support so that they are able to benefit fully from their education. The term ‘adequate and efficient’ is taken from the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. In the ASL Act the focus is on individual provision directed to each and every child.

The only reasons a local authority might not provide a certain type of support to pre-school or school-age children is if it cannot because it is outwith its powers, or if the cost of the support is considered to be unreasonably high. This might be the case if:

  • the cost of providing the support completely outweighs the benefits to your child
  • suitable alternative support is available at a significantly lower cost
  • the cost of providing the support, such as building new facilities, would completely outweigh the benefits to the wider community.

Local authorities should always consider whether the cost of providing your child with a certain type of support will benefit other children coming to the school in the future.

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Children who are educated outside the home authority

If your local authority makes arrangements for your child to go to a pre-school centre or school run by another authority, or an independent special school or grant-aided school, your local authority remains responsible for identifying and monitoring the additional support your child needs.

However, if your child attends a pre-school centre or school outside their local area via a placing request (see the section on ‘placing requests’), the host authority is responsible for their education. This means the host authority is responsible for identifying whether your child has additional support needs and for providing the additional support.

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Children who are educated outside the public education system

If you have arranged for your child to attend an independent school or pre-school, a grant-aided school or have decided to educate them at home, this means your local authority is not responsible for their education.

Both you and the school or pre-school that your child attends have the right to ask your local authority to find out whether or not your child has additional support needs, and to assess what level of support they might need (see the chapter on ‘The assessment process’). Your local authority can choose to agree to your request, and to provide the additional support, but it is under no legal duty to do so.

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Helpline:
0345 123 2303
Enquire Visit our site for
children and young people

Helpline: 0345 123 2303

Visit our website for children and young people