Chapter 9: Changing schools and leaving school

This section is about supporting children at times of change in their education, as they enter pre-school, then move through primary, secondary and on to preparing for adulthood. Some children may also transfer to a different school at other times because they move home or need different support.

If your child has additional support needs it is particularly important that the move is as smooth as possible. Good transfer of information about your child’s needs will ensure that there is no disruption to the level of support they get.

Starting pre-school

If your child has been receiving additional support before starting pre-school, your local authority should start to gather information and views from any professionals working with your child at least six months before they are due to start pre-school. The authority must take any information it receives into account to ensure the pre-school is properly prepared and able to provide your child with the support they need.

At least three months before your child starts at pre-school, the authority must share this information with you and any professionals who will be involved from other agencies such as health or social work.

Information about your child should not be passed to other agencies without your consent and you should be fully involved in the planning process. This may involve attending meetings. You have the right to have a supporter or advocate with you at meetings to help you put your views across (see the section on supporters and advocates).

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From pre-school to primary to secondary

Local authorities will have systems in place that enable pre-schools and schools to share information. Any transition your child makes from one school to the next will usually be co-ordinated by a professional who is already working with your child and is familiar to both of you.

Before your child is due to move to their next school the local authority must start to gather information and views from appropriate agencies or other agencies (or both) that have been working with your child.

The authority must start to gather this information at least 12 months before your child is due to move from pre-school to primary school, and at least 12 months before they are due to move from primary to secondary school.

The authority must take any information it receives into account, to ensure the next school is properly prepared and able to provide your child with the support they need. This information should be shared with you and any professionals who will be involved from other agencies, such as health or social work, no later than six months before your child is due to start at primary or secondary school.

Information about your child should not be passed to other agencies without your child’s or your consent and you should be fully involved in discussions about your child’s additional support needs. This may involve attending meetings. You have the right to have a supporter or advocate with you at meetings to help you put your views across (see the section on supporters and advocates).

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Progressing beyond school

You and your child will be making decisions about their life after school long before they actually intend to move on. Do they want to attend further or higher education? Do they want to find employment or start a training course? Do they want to live away from home?

If your child has additional support needs, it is important that such plans are made in advance to ensure support is in place as they progress beyond school.

Local authorities must help children with additional support needs make the transition from school to adulthood. An appropriate place in post-16 learning must be offered to every young person who wants it.

For most children, this support will come from within their school and may include:

  • advice and guidance from careers advisory services in schools
  • personal learning planning (see the section on Planning your child’s additional support) — this may involve them setting and achieving goals that help them develop skills they will need after school, such as managing money or learning to travel independently
  • providing accessible information about relevant college or higher education courses, national training programmes, community-based programmes or work placements
  • organising visits to colleges or universities
  • organising a work placement
  • organising a phased entry to college, training placement or workplace for one or two days a week while continuing at school for the rest of the week
  • offering alternative curricular programmes such as literacy and numeracy, IT skills training, personal and social development, outdoor education or community-based programmes.

Some children may be assigned a lead professional to help give a smooth progression to further or higher education, training, employment or other services. The lead professional might be a teacher, careers officer, social worker, community education worker or someone from another agency.

Your child may need support from other agencies such as health, social work or a voluntary organisation when they leave school. The local authority has a duty to ask the appropriate agencies, and other agencies it thinks necessary, for advice and information about any provision they are likely to make for your child once they leave school. This must be done at least 12 months before your child is due to leave school. The information will be used to ensure that an appropriate programme of support is set up to help your child progress beyond school. As well as social work and health, other agencies involved in planning for post-school would be Skills Development Scotland and further or higher education establishments. See Enquire Factsheet 14: Progressing beyond school after 16 for more information.

The local authority must ask your child for their views about information that will be passed to appropriate agencies (unless they lack capacity to express a view — see the appropriate section). The authority must pass on information about your child to any of the agencies that may be working with them after they have left school. This must be done no later than six months before they leave. This cannot be done without your consent, or your child’s consent if they are aged 16 or over. The information will be used to help the agencies provide the support your child needs.

Your child should be fully involved in all decisions about the support they need to progress beyond school and the support they will have once they have left. Young people aged 16 or over have the right to have a supporter or advocate at meetings to help them put across their views about their additional support needs (see the section on supporters and advocates).

If you or your child feel that the local authority has not followed post-school planning procedures, you have a right of appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal. These procedures relate to gathering information about your child, involving you and your child in this process and sharing this information with relevant agencies. See Enquire Factsheet 4: Resolving disagreements.

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Calum’s story

Calum - picture posed by model

Calum

(picture posed by model)

Calum is 15 and attends a special school in his home local authority. Calum has a co-ordinated support plan and requires 1:1 support to engage with those around him. He has a profound learning disability, a visual impairment, epilepsy and is a wheelchair user who requires regular postural changes. Calum receives nutrition via a gastrostomy. He enjoys a sensory curriculum and particularly likes the music and drama class. The priorities for Calum and his family at the transition planning review at the end of S3 were to ensure that once he leaves the education system he has the opportunity to continue his personal development through meaningful day activities/supports and therapies. Calum’s co-ordinated support plan was also reviewed; Calum will not be looking for work.

His social worker took on the role of the lead professional to co-ordinate the planning for transition. It was agreed that the following should happen:

  • Calum should stay on at school until the end of S6
  • a social worker from the Children and Families team will complete a full assessment report for Calum in the next six months as this information has not been updated for some time. This will require talking with Calum’s parents and a range of allied health professionals
  • the appropriate social worker from the adult learning disabilities team will be invited to the next review
  • Calum will have opportunities to take part in community activities once every two weeks within his school timetable
  • his speech and language therapist will work on a personal communication passport for Calum over the next 6 months
  • his paediatric consultant will be asked to clarify arrangements with Calum’s family for transferring support with gastrostomy care, neurology and orthopaedics to adult healthcare within the next 6 months
  • the educational objectives in his co-ordinated support plan would be updated over the following month to take account of the arrangements for transition planning.

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Supporting your child

The following steps are examples of support that may make your child’s progression beyond school as smooth as possible.

  • Make sure that the local authority is involving you and your child in decisions that will affect them and is taking seriously the views of both of you. Local authorities have a duty to take into account the views of parents, children and young people in decisions that significantly affect the child’s or young person’s education. You can talk to the Named Person if you have questions.
  • Discuss with your child whether they want to stay on at school beyond the age of 16. All children should be offered an appropriate learning option by their local authority to continue their education after age 16. Local authorities may support full-time and further education for a young person with additional support needs up to the age of 19, although there is no legal requirement to do this.
  • Make full use of the services provided by Skills Development Scotland and your son’s or daughter’s careers advisor. Skills Development Scotland has access to a wealth of information on post-16 employment, learning and training opportunities.
  • Where appropriate, find out what benefits and services your child may be entitled to. You can contact your local benefits office or Self Directed Support Scotland for further information.
  • Consider what medical, psychological, teaching or therapeutic services your child may need when they leave school and how they can access them.
  • Find out about the range of support available from voluntary organisations.
  • Consider what social support, if any, your family may need. For example, do you get enough breaks from caring? Does your child have enough leisure and social opportunities? What about their siblings or other family members — do they need support? Your local social work office or relevant voluntary organisations should be able to give you advice on this.

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At a glance: Changing schools and leaving schools

Your child has the right to:

  • have their views taken into account
  • be involved in the planning process
  • (aged 16 or over) have a supporter or advocate present at any discussions or meetings with a local authority when their additional support needs are being discussed (see the section on supporters and advocates).

Local authorities must:

  • request and take into account information and advice from other agencies that are supporting your child at least 12 months before they are due to start at primary or secondary school
  • share information and advice from other agencies with you and obtain your or your child’s consent before passing on information about your child’s additional support needs to other agencies
  • pass on relevant information and advice to any agencies that will be supporting your child at primary or secondary school, with your or your child’s consent, at least six months before they are due to start
  • give your child information and advice about their options including staying on at school, entering further or higher education, participating in the national training programmes, or taking part in personal and social development opportunities offered through community learning and development
  • request and take into account information and advice from other agencies that are likely to be involved in supporting your child after they leave school. This must be done at least 12 months before your child is expected to leave
  • seek and take account of your child’s views when deciding what information to share with agencies that may be working with your child after they leave school
  • pass on relevant information and advice to any agencies that will be supporting your child, with your child’s consent. This must be done no later than six months before your child leaves school.

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0345 123 2303
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children and young people

Helpline: 0345 123 2303

Visit our website for children and young people