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Advice for parents in Scotland

How will my child’s learning and support be planned?

Schools use planning as a way of thinking about, talking about and arranging what and how your child learns. It’s a way of monitoring their progress and making sure they achieve their goals.

For children with additional support needs, planning also helps make sure the support they receive is working. Plans can also help co-ordinate the support your child receives when lots of different professionals are involved. Different local authorities and schools use different sorts of learning and support plans to help make sure they are meeting children’s needs.

Most local authorities use a process called ‘staged intervention’. The plan a child has will depend on which stage they are at.

The most commonly used plans are

  • Personal Learning Plans (PLPs)
  • Individual Educational Programmes (IEPs) or Additional Support Plans
  • Co-ordinated Support Plans (CSPs)
  • Child’s Plan (CPs)

Personal learning planning is used for all children and is a way of planning what and how your child learns and assessing their progress. It is an on-going process of setting goals that reflect your child’s strengths and development needs and monitoring then their progress. Your child should be involved in this. Monitoring your child’s progress in achieving these aims and goals will help everyone know whether additional support is working. For most children no further planning will be needed.

If your child education needs more detailed planning than a PLP, (for example if they need changes to the curriculum, special equipment in class or support from school staff other than their teacher) the school may create an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP). Local authorities have different names for planning documents so your child's IEP may be called an Additional Support Plan, Support and Strategies Plan or Wellbeing Assessment Plan.)

An IEP (or similar) should set out your child’s additional support needs and the type of support they require. The may include short-term goals for your child and explain what methods will be used to reach them. Schools and local authorities are not legally required to prepare an IEP for your child, and IEPs are not legal documents. It is good practice for schools to prepare them for children who need a lot of support. Your child's IEPs should be reviewed regularly, usually every school term.

You and your child should be involved in drawing up their IEP and you should should receive a copy.

The aim of a CSP is to make sure that the additional support your child receives is properly co-ordinated. The different between a CSP and other plans is that it is a legal document and disputes about them are dealt with by the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

By law local authorities must have arrangements to identify children and young people who have additional support and may need a CSP. They have a legal duty to open a CSP for any child who needs one and to keep it updated.

Most children with additional support needs will not require a CSP as their needs can be met through other forms of planning.

If your child meets all of the following criteria your local authority should consider opening a CSP:

- Your child requires support because of complex or multiple factors that negatively and significantly affect their school education
- Your child's support needs are likely to last for more than a year
- Your child needs significant additional support from the local authority’s education department, and from at least one another agency (such as social work, or health).

A CSP should describe your child’s strengths, your child’s additional support needs, and your child’s educational objectives. It should also include the support they need to meet these objectives and the organisation or professionals who will provide it.

If your child has a CSP, the school should still carry out personal learning planning. If appropriate, it should also set up a learning plan such as an IEP to set smaller, short-term learning targets. For example, information from the CSP should be used to draw up the IEP, and progress with the IEP can be used to measure the success of the support outlined in the CSP.

The local authority must review your child's CSP every 12 months.

Part of the Getting it Right for Every Child approach (the set of principles that guide how professionals make sure the wellbeing of children) is a single planning approach for children who need additional support from services, called a Child’s Plan.

Your child may have a Child’s Plan if they need extra support to meet their wellbeing needs. Their Child's Plan would set out the needs that have been identified and any action taken or to be taken to meet those needs. All professionals working with your child would use the plan. A Child's Plan may include information from their IEP if they have one. If your child has a CSP this information should feature in the Child's Plan, but the CSP will still be a stand alone legal document.

If your child has healthcare needs they may have a healthcare plan setting out their treatment and medication. But if there healthcare needs affect their ability to attend school or learn, they should have a school healthcare plan drawn up in partnership with health staff. Whether or not a school healthcare plan is needed should be assessed by a health professional. This could be a member of the health team, a community paediatrician or children's nurse.

A school healthcare plan should include details of:

- your child's health care need and impact on your child
- the type and dosage of any medication to be taken, and storage information
- any side effects your child might experience and how to deal with them
- any healthcare procedures you child requires
- learning support needs resulting from their condition and who is providing support
- emergency procedures and contacts
- how often and when the plan should be shared

The plan should also include the name of the person responsible for it.

During planning meetings, staff will share lots of information about your child and how they learn and behave in school. It's important that you have the chance to share insights about your child too. Sometimes you may be asked to do this at a meeting or by filling in a section of a learning plan. Here's some things you might want to share:

- What do you think are your child’s strengths?
- What are the things your child enjoys and is successful at when they are out of school?
- What are the areas of school that your child seems to struggle with?
- Are there any strategies that work at home, such as for homework, routine or behaviour?
- What goals are important to your child?
- Which areas do you feel are a priority?

You can:

- ask your local authority for information on how they plan for children's additional support needs
- read our blog post about staged intervention
- if you aren't sure whether your child has a learning plan ask their class teacher or guidance teacher
- if your child doesn’t have a learning plan, ask for a meeting with the school to discuss whether it would help your child to have one
- find out about your child's rights

Possible conversation starters

- I don't know whether my child has a learning plan. Could you check for me?
- Could you explain how my child is being supported and whether he might benefit from having a IEP/ASP?
- My child seems to meet the criteria for a CSP. I'd like her to be consider for one?
- It's some time since my child's plan was reviewed. Can we arrange a review meeting?

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