Chapter 6: Providing additional support

Depending on your child’s needs, different kinds of support are available. The additional support might be an approach to learning and teaching, support from staff, or resources.

Where possible, the support your child receives will be given in ways that do not make them feel singled out. It should be integrated into their everyday life at pre-school or school.

Children up to the age of three

The support will depend on your child’s circumstances. At this early stage its purpose will be to help with your child’s development and prepare them for pre-school and school. For example, a home-visiting teacher may advise you about suitable activities you can do with your child to help them with their development and learning. The teacher may also suggest your child attends a nursery.

An action plan may be drawn up that details what support your child needs and how you can contribute.

A lead professional or key worker, someone who has regular contact with your child, should be chosen from the local authority or one of the other agencies that are involved in supporting your child. This person should be the single point of reference for you and other professionals. Your health visitor or your social worker could be the lead professional.

The details in your child’s action plan will feed into any future educational plans for your child.

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Pre-school children

The support will depend on your child’s circumstances, but often it will be the same or similar to the support provided in schools, see below.

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School-age children

One or several of these methods may be used to support your child. Additional support can be provided in different places, not just at school. For example, your child may receive support in hospital or at a social work centre.

Adapting the curriculum

Example: a very able child in the later stages of primary school gets access to the secondary school mathematics curriculum.

Individual or small group teaching

Example: one-to-one or small-group tutorial will be given by the school’s support for learning teacher to help with a reading difficulty.

Group work support in the school

Example: a group of children working together at the same reading level or a particular project to develop social interaction.

Specific support from a classroom assistant, additional support needs assistant or behaviour co-ordinator

Example: helping a child understand a task and keeping them on track.

Support from a visiting teacher

Example: support is provided by a visiting English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher for a child whose first language is not English.

Differentiation of the curriculum, including resources and materials

Example: particular resources such as computers are made available to enable children to access curriculum materials in a more suitable format. Breaking down work into smaller chunks can enable children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to perform a variety of tasks.

Adaptations to school buildings

Example: a school may make certain adjustments, such as better signage to help children with visual impairment find their way around. Further information about the rights of children with disabilities is in a later chapter

Peer-support arrangements such as buddying, paired reading and circle time

Example: children with social and emotional difficulties are set up with a network of older pupils who buddy up with them at lunchtime and playtimes to help them join in with their peer group and socialise.

Therapist within school

Example: a speech and language therapist devises a series of exercises that the teacher can use in the classroom when working with a child who has a particular language disorder.

Teacher takes advice from a specialist

Example: the class teacher helps a child with behavioural difficulties by following a behaviour management programme drawn up with a behaviour support teacher.

Attending a special unit

Example: some children may benefit from attending a unit in the school on a full-time or part-time basis. This may be because the particular type of support required is not usually provided in the classroom, or a child’s needs would be better met by a part-time placement in a mainstream setting.

Attending a special school

In some cases, a special school may be better equipped to meet your child’s needs. See the chapter on ‘Choosing where your child will be educated’.

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Planning your child’s additional support

Depending on your child’s needs, different levels of planning will be required to make sure their learning needs are met and to arrange the support they receive. This guide gives a broad description of the types of planning that may be used to support your child’s learning, but each local authority will have their own local procedures. For more information visit

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Personal learning planning (PLP)

“All children with additional support needs should be engaged in personal learning planning and for many this process will be sufficient to address their additional support needs.”

(Supporting children’s learning code of practice 2010)

PLP sets out aims and goals for your child that relate to their own circumstances. These must be manageable and realistic and reflect your child’s strengths as well as their development needs. Monitoring your child’s progress in achieving these aims and goals will determine whether additional support is working.

The school should arrange for your child to regularly discuss their progress in achieving their learning goals with a member of staff. If possible, your child should note what has been discussed and decided at these meetings, with the help of staff.

If a particular type of support is not helping them achieve their aims and goals, an alternative approach should be explored. Both you and your child should be fully involved in PLP, including setting aims and goals and monitoring progress.

You will be able to discuss your child’s progress during meetings or informal conversations with their teacher or other staff. You will be best placed to help your child if you are clear about their learning goals.

For many children, PLP will be enough to arrange and monitor their learning development. However, if required, their PLP can be supported by an individualised educational programme (see below).

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Individualised educational programmes (IEPs)

If your child requires more detailed planning for their learning than can be made through PLP, they may have an individualised educational programme (IEP). An IEP describes in detail the nature of a child’s or young person’s additional support needs, the ways these are to be met, and the learning outcomes to be achieved. It also specifies what additional support is needed. In some authorities these plans have a different name – ask your child’s school or Enquire for more information.

An IEP may include tasks that can be done at home to help your child’s progress. As with all plans, both you and your child should be fully involved in developing their IEP and monitoring their progress.

Support from other agencies such as health, social work, or voluntary agencies may be required. If so, the relevant agencies should be involved in developing your child’s IEP so that the work is properly co-ordinated.

You will be able to discuss your child’s progress during meetings or informal conversations with their teacher or other staff. The better you understand your child’s learning goals, the more you will be able to help.

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Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs)

Your child might need a co-ordinated support plan (CSP) to organise their support if:

  • they have support needs as a result of complex or multiple factors that have a significant adverse effect on their school education
  • supporting them requires high levels of involvement from one or more appropriate agencies such as health, social work services or the local authority, and
  • their support needs will last more than one year.

Unlike personal learning planning and individualised educational programmes, a CSP is a legal document. It aims to ensure that the different professionals involved in providing support work together and the support is properly co-ordinated. It is an action plan for everyone involved, including you and your child. To find out more about CSPs, and why your child may need one, see a later chapter.

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Staged intervention

Some local areas use an approach to supporting children in schools called staged intervention. Staged intervention helps identify,  assess, plan, record and review the learning needs of children and young people. It aims to meet a child’s needs at the earliest opportunity and with the least intrusive level of intervention.

Staged intervention involves the child, parents and carers, school staff and, at some levels, other professionals. All work in partnership to get it right for every child.

There are commonly four stages, from stage 1 – where there might be some adjustments made to the curriculum or environment, for example – to stage 4, where children or young people are likely to have complex needs and a co-ordinated support plan. Also at stage 4, other professionals such as educational psychologists will be heavily involved. Staged intervention allows for movement between stages, depending on how the child or young person is doing.

You can usually find information about a local authority’s approach to meeting the additional support needs of the children and young people in their area on their website.

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How education plans fit in with other plans

As a result of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 some children will have a Child’s Plan. Child’s Plans are created if a child or young person needs some extra support to meet their wellbeing needs such as access to mental health services or respite care, or help from a range of different agencies. Professionals working with the child will prepare and co-ordinate support through a Child’s Plan.

The Child’s Plan will contain information about:

  • why a child or young person needs support
  • the type of support a child or young person needs
  • how long support will be needed and who should provide it.

Child’s Plans mean that the people who support a child or young person use a single planning approach. This should make sure that any plans for a child always take into account the aims and goals set out in your child’s education or other plan. More information about Child’s Plans can be found on the Getting it right for every child section of the Scottish Government website

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Monitoring and reviewing support

Your local authority must keep your child’s additional support needs under review and monitor the effectiveness of the support they are receiving.

This will be done by monitoring your child’s progress in achieving the aims, goals and targets that have been set through their PLP, IEP or CSP. Other agencies, such as health, social work services or voluntary organisations may be involved in monitoring your child’s progress if they are providing support.

If your child is not making adequate progress, their needs should be reassessed and appropriate support provided.

All learning plans should be reviewed regularly. The law sets out some specific arrangements for reviewing CSPs. More information about the review of co-ordinated support plans is in a later section.

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Children who can’t go to school

If a child misses school because of ill health, local authorities have duties to ensure they can continue their schoolwork while they are absent. These duties apply when a child has an illness or has had an accident but also if the child is missing school for other reasons, for example, as a result of:

  • being a young parent or carer
  • refusing to go to school or having a school phobia
  • having an undiagnosed mental health condition.

Whatever the reason for being off school, the child has the same right to education as others. If your child is absent from school, you should talk to the school as soon as possible and explain why. This will allow the school to consider your child’s needs and arrange for appropriate support. You can find out more in Enquire Factsheet 17: When a child can’t go to school.

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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 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 grant-aided school, or to educate your child at home, your local authority can choose to provide additional support for your child, but is not legally obliged to do so. You have the right to ask your local authority to assess your child to find out if they have additional support needs (see the chapter on ‘The assessment process’). You also have the right, and so does the manager of your child’s school, to ask your local authority to establish whether your child would require a co-ordinated support plan (see the chapter on ‘Co-ordinated support plans’).

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At a glance: Providing additional support

You have the right to:

  • receive advice and information about your child’s additional support needs.

For more information on your rights relating to co-ordinated support plans, see ‘At a glance’ in the chapter on Co-ordinated support plans.

Your child’s rights

  • If your child is aged 16 or over, they have the same rights as you, listed above.

Local authorities must:

  • provide ‘adequate and efficient’ additional support for each pre-school and school-age child who has additional support needs. This is subject to the exceptions shown in an earlier chapter
  • provide appropriate additional support for disabled children under the age of three who have additional support needs because of their disability
  • monitor the adequacy of additional support that they are providing for individual children
  • publish, and keep updated, information on their arrangements for addressing and monitoring children’s additional support needs
  • provide a co-ordinated support plan for children who require one and keep this under review.

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