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Coronavirus and additional support for learning

How will my child’s additional support for learning be affected?

While Scotland continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, there may be some changes to what your child’s additional support for learning will look like. However, if your child, for any reason, needs extra or different help to benefit from their learning – their school or nursery still need to offer them support based on their individual needs. There is more information in our factsheet on ‘Additional support for learning: Key facts.’

Local authorities, schools and nurseries also still need to make sure they are treating children and young people fairly and taking an inclusive approach. There is more information in our factsheet on ‘Inclusion, equality and wellbeing.’

This section contains answers to some of the questions that you may have about changes to support for learning when your child is attending school or nursery during the coronavirus pandemic. If you have a question that we have not answered, please get in touch with our helpline. We will continue to keep this section updated.

Yes, your child still has the same legal rights to get additional support with their learning if they need it. Our factsheet, Additional support for learning: key facts, explains the legal duties on your child’s local authority, school or nursery and your child’s rights to support for learning.

If your child’s support before coronavirus included working closely for prolonged periods of time with support staff, this may have changed for a while. The school should look at whether they can meet your child’s support needs in a different way that helps reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading. However, if your child needs this support to benefit from their learning, and it can’t be provided in a different way, then the school should still provide it. There may need to be some adaptions, like your child and the support staff member being asked to wear face coverings.

There is a strong emphasis on communication between schools and parents as pupils adjust to being in school or nursery during the coronavirus, as they will need joined-up support from both school and home.

All schools and local authorities must also take steps to make sure they are not putting disabled pupils at a disadvantage. If they anticipate that a disabled pupil will be put at a disadvantage compared to other pupils their age, they should make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the way they plan and deliver education and support to avoid this happening. Our factsheet on Disabled pupils and the law explains more about schools’ and local authorities’ duties.

Some pupils with additional support needs get dedicated transport to and from school, based on their specific needs. As always, the local authority and school need to continue to take account of your child’s individual needs and provide them with transport when this is necessary.

If your child uses dedicated school transport (like a school bus) to get to and from school, the normal coronavirus public transport rules apply. The same rules apply if your child, due to their additional support needs, gets a taxi to and from school.

Children aged 12 and over should wear a face covering unless they are exempt. There are exceptions in the general coronavirus guidance on the use of face coverings on transport to take account of disabled people and those with certain health conditions. If you think your child’s additional support needs mean they cannot wear a face covering when getting to and from school, speak to their school about what adjustments can be considered to meet their individual needs.

Pupils are still encouraged to keep distance between themselves and others where possible on transport to and from school. They should also keep one meter distance between themselves and the driver where possible.

For children with additional support needs, it can often be important for the school or nursery to work together with other professionals to make sure your child gets the support they need. For example, educational psychologists are often involved in identifying and assessing pupils’ needs by visiting schools or nurseries and observing children in their learning environments.

Generally, schools and nurseries should try to limit the number of adults visiting and moving between different groups of children and young people. However, professionals can still visit schools and nurseries if they are providing essential services for the delivery of your child’s care or educational support plan. For example, support teachers, psychologists, nurses, therapists, social workers, and youth workers can all still work with your child if their input is necessary.

Schools and nurseries should have a risk assessment in place that looks at how they can try and reduce some of the risks of working together with other professionals. Schools or nurseries may arrange input from these professionals in a different and lower-risk way, for example using technology or outdoor spaces more.

If you are worried about your child’s support, speak to their school or nursery. You can ask how they will continue to work together with other professionals. Even if professionals have had to change how they are involved in your child’s support during coronavirus, they are still there to advise and support the school or nursery to get your child the help they need with their learning.

Some children and young people have found learning through coronavirus particularly difficult. When you have helped your child with their learning at home during lockdowns, you may have noticed difficulties you were not aware of before. Some children will have experienced bereavement or difficult family circumstances, for example if their parent lost their job because of coronavirus. Others may have struggled with changes to school life like different rules about break and lunchtimes and the wearing of face masks.

Whatever the reason, if you feel your child needs more or different support with their learning, it is important that you speak to the school about this. This way, the school can put in place the support your child needs. Schools and nurseries should focus on their pupils’ wellbeing and the impact coronavirus has had on their lives and learning.

If you are worried about the support that is currently in place for your child, you should discuss your concerns with your child’s teachers.

It may be best to put your concerns in writing to the school or nursery. This will give you the chance to think through what your main worries or questions are and will give staff the chance to give a considered reply. You could also ask for a phone or video meeting to talk things through.

If your child is disabled and their support has been affected by the rules or measures the school has put in place due to coronavirus, it is important that the school makes sure this does not put them at a disadvantage compared to non-disabled pupils. If you have any concerns that your child may be being discriminated against, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service for advice.

If you are worried after this, our factsheet on Avoiding and solving problems explains what other things you can do. Because of coronavirus, there might be delays to some of the more formal options for resolving disagreements, so it might be most helpful to focus on working together with the school or nursery if you can.

The law and guidance around planning and reviewing your child’s additional support for learning has not changed due to coronavirus. Your child’s school or nursery should still plan to help them meet your child’s individual needs.

If your child has a written support plan, their teachers should review and update it, with your and your child’s input, and use it as the basis for planning, delivering, and reviewing the support your child needs with their learning. If your child does not have a written plan, but you think they may need one, you can ask to discuss this with your child’s class teacher, or the person responsible for additional support for learning at the school or nursery.

You can also ask for your child to be assessed for a co-ordinated support plan (CSP), or for a review of an existing CSP. Local authorities have the same duties as usual, including to prepare CSPs for pupils who meet the criteria, review CSPs at least annually, and provide the support that is detailed in a pupil’s CSP.

Your and your child’s rights are explained in detail in our factsheets on Planning your child’s support and Co-ordinated support plans.

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Resources/Advice for Young People/

Our service Reach has bitesize, easy read advice to help you talk to your child about their learning and support during coronavirus.

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