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 whatever reason, needs extra or different help to benefit from their learning – their school or nursery should still try to offer them support based on their individual needs. This includes if they are learning from home due to coronavirus, for example during January 2021.
Equality laws have not changed, and local authorities, schools and nurseries 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 support for learning 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.
Your child’s school or nursery should identify which pupils in their schools and nurseries may need extra help with their learning. They should then provide them with the support they need to do the best they can in their education. Our factsheet, Additional support for learning: key facts, explains their duties and your child’s rights to support for learning.
Schools and nurseries should focus on their pupils’ wellbeing and the impact coronavirus has had on their lives and learning. Teachers will watch out for any signs of distress or difficulty for pupils and work to support them. They should also take account of any information you can provide about your child’s needs – whether these are social, psychological, health or educational needs.
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.
If your child uses school transport they need to wear a face covering while using the transport (unless they are exempt). The rules are the same for school transport as they are for public transport, with all adults and children aged 5 and over needing to wear face coverings.
There are exceptions in the 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.
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 and observing children in their learning environments.
Generally, nurseries and schools 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 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 from outside the school. Schools may arrange input from these professionals in a different and lower-risk way, for example using technology or outdoor spaces more.
If your child is not able to get input from other professionals at the moment this may be worrying for you, especially if you are awaiting an assessment of your child’s needs or if your child’s normal support involves visiting professionals. The school will be aware of the challenges this will present for your child, and they should review what your child’s support will look like under the current coronavirus guidance.
If you are worried about your child’s support, speak to their school. You can ask how the school 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 to get your child the help they need with their learning.
Coronavirus has had a big impact on the lives of all children and young people, including their learning. Some pupils will have found learning at home, and returning to school, easier than others. Schools are aware of this, and they should be working to understand where your child is at with their learning, what help they need to get back on track, and offering them that support.
If you are worried your child still needs more or different support to help them catch up, you can speak to the school. For more information about how to do this, see our coronavirus webpage on Working together with your child’s school or nursery during coronavirus.
Some children and young people have found the last year particularly difficult. When you have helped your child with their learning at home during lockdown, 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 longer lessons or different rules about break and lunchtimes.
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.
If you are not happy with 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 still not happy 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.