By law, every child has the right to be provided with a school education. They also have the right to receive “adequate and efficient” support if they have been identified as having additional support needsThis is the legal definition of additional support needs from the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, as amended. A child or young person has additional support needs....
This means that your child has the right to attend school full time and receive support that meets their individual needs and helps them to reach their fullest potential. All children have the right to have their views listened to and should be involved in decisions about their support.
Until your child is 16 you can use your parental rights to help make sure they have the support they need. Find more information in What rights do parents and carers have?
When your child turns 16, if they have capacity, it is assumed they will be able to act on their own behalf. This means that at this age they will have the same rights as parents, including to:
- Ask the local authority to find out if they have additional support needs
- Ask the local authority for a specific type of assessment (see assessment section)
- Make a placing request to another school and appeal the decision
- Ask the local authority to open or review a co-ordinated support plan and to have their views noted in the plan
- Receive advice and information about their additional support needs
- Have a supporter or advocate with them at meetings about their additional support needs
Most parents will remain involved in their children’s education, attending planning meetings and receiving copies of any letters or plans. However in some cases (such as when a child is over 16 and excluded from school) communication from the school may be directly with the pupil.
At the moment, parents are expected to act on behalf of their children if they are under 16. As of 10th January 2018, children's rights will be extended. This means that children aged 12 or over, who have capacity, will have many of the same rights as their parents and over 16s under the Additional Support for Learning Act. They will not be able to make a placing request or request mediation.
Children’s rights are being extended so that children with additional support needs, if they want to, can be more directly involved in decisions about their education and support.
From January 2018 children will be able to act on their own behalf. A dedicated Children’s Service will be available to children who want to make use of their rights under the Additional Support for Learning Act.
Before a child uses these rights, their schools or local authorities will check that:
- they are able to understand their rights
- they are able to understand any decisions made and how this may impact their education and support
- their wellbeing will not be negatively affected by making use of their rights.
If your child is 3 or under your local authority must provide appropriate support if they have additional support needs because of a disability.
If your child is attending a local authority nursery or preschool (or one working in partnership with the local authority), they have the same rights to support as children attending school. The local authority has a duty to identify their needs and provide support to meet these needs.
Looked after children (including those looked after by relatives, kinship carers, foster carers and those in a residential unit, school or secure unit) have the same rights to extra support in school as other children.
All children who are looked after are automatically assumed to have additional support needs unless they are assessed and it is decided they don't have additional support needs. If a child is assessed as not requiring extra support at one time, they may still need extra support further down the line to cope with disruptions or upset caused by leaving a foster family, moving home or changing school. The local authority must consider whether a looked after child needs a co-ordinated support plan (CSP).
Education, social work and staff from other agencies should work together to assess and plan the support a looked after child needs. Local authorities should have detailed policies on the education of looked after children to makes sure this happens. The child should be involved in planning their support and have a say in decisions about what they will learn at school and the support they need.
If a child is looked after, their home authority has responsibility for their education even if they are:
- placed in accommodation in another local authority and attending a school in that authority
- placed in a school in another local authority, for example, because school provision that meets their needs is available there.
Some children who have additional support needs are disabled.
Disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial, long-term, adverse affect on [a person’s ability] to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.
Under The Equality Act 2010, local authorities and education providers must not discriminate against your child because of their disability. This means they should not treat your child less favourably and must make reasonable adjustments to help them take part in all areas of school life. Local authorities must make education accessible and remove barriers to learning for disabled pupils.
If you feel that your child's school has discriminated against them because of their disability, you can make a claim to the Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland.
It’s important to know that a child does not need a formal diagnosis of a particular condition to receive support.
Although a diagnosis can help the school to understand a child’s needs and plan support, if there is not a formal diagnosis a school should still put support in place.
This also applies if a child is being assessed or waiting for an assessment. The school should provide support that helps them learn and be included in school life.
- get in touch with Enquire helpline if you have any question about your child's rights to support in school
- order a copy of our Parents' guide to additional support for learning
- talk to your child's class or guidance teacher about your concerns
- visit Reach, Enquire's website for children and young people, to help your child understand their rights to support in school.