Support for children in the senior phase

Support for pupils in the senior phase

All pupils are entitled to the support they need at school, including pupils in the senior phase.

Your child’s school should work with you and your child to find the support that best meets their needs.

What are my child’s rights before they turn 16?

All children have the right to have their views taken into account, but children aged 12-15 have extra rights to help them become more actively involved in decisions. These rights are similar to the rights you have as a parent, although it does not mean that your rights as a parent have changed.

For example, children aged 12-15 have the right to:

  • ask their local authority to assess their support needs
  • ask their local authority to find out if they need a co-ordinated support plan (CSP)
  • have a supporter or advocate with them at meetings about their support
  • use formal routes for resolving disagreements with their school or local authority

Enquire works as part of a service called My Rights, My Say to support children aged 12-15 with additional support needs to be involved in decisions about their education. Find out more on their website linked below.

For more information, have a look at our factsheet, Rights of children aged 12-15.

  • Rights of children aged 12-15

    Factsheet explaining the specific rights of children aged 12-15 with additional support needs to be involved in decisions about their education, and how they can use these rights.

What are my child’s rights once they turn 16?

Once your child turns 16, by law they are no longer considered ‘a child’ – they are now ‘a young person’. As a young person, they are assumed to be able to do things on their own behalf and should be fully involved in decisions about their education and support.

In short, a young person has the same rights as their parents or carers did before they turned 16. This does not mean that parents and carers are no longer involved. Often, parents and carers will continue to attend meetings.

If your child cannot understand or does not have the capacity to make decisions, then as a parent or carer, you can still do this for them.

How can my child be supported in their senior phase of school?

All young people have the right to the support they need, and this right continues into the senior phase. The law does not say what support should look like, because it should be based on your child’s individual needs. Your child’s school should listen to your views and your child’s views to find the support that best meets their needs.

Support can include many different things, including:

  • Adapting the curriculum
  • Teachers taking advice from a specialist, e.g., an educational psychologist or behaviour support teacher
  • Support from a classroom or pupil support assistant
  • Access to additional resources and materials
  • Making adaptations to the school or nursery environment
  • Individual or small-group teaching
  • Access to a nurture or support base
  • Support from a visiting teacher or therapist, e.g., an English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher or a speech and language therapist
  • Peer support.

The Curriculum for Excellence aims to support pupils to gain a broad range of skills and understanding. In the senior phase in particular, this might include support to help your child gain independent living skills as they move towards adulthood.

Our factsheet Identifying and Assessing your child’s needs explains how your child’s school should take steps to find out what your child’s individual needs are. From this, they should put support in place that meets those needs. Sometimes, recording this support into a written plan can be helpful. You can find out more about this process in our factsheet Planning your child’s support.

  • Education and additional support after 16

    Factsheet explaining young people’s right to stay on at school after 16, and local authorities’ duties to plan for pupils with additional support needs leaving school.

  • Identifying and assessing your child’s needs

    Factsheet explaining what local authorities, schools and nurseries must do to identify your child’s support needs, and your rights to request assessments of their needs.

  • Planning your child’s support

    This factsheet explains the different ways that your child’s support might be planned, including descriptions of the types of written plans that might be used.

What support can my child get with their SQA exams?

All children are entitled to the support they need at school, and this includes support with exams – sometimes called ‘assessment arrangements’. The purpose of support in exams is to make sure pupils with additional support needs have an equal opportunity to demonstrate the skills, knowledge and understanding they have achieved during their course.

Your child’s school are responsible for organising and assessing for assessment arrangements. The support your child receives in their exams should be based on their individual needs. Often, the support in their exams will be similar to the support they are given in class. For example, if your child uses a laptop to type their answers in class, they may use one in their exams, too. It’s also important to remember that support can be different for different subjects.

For more information, have a look at our page Support with exams and assessments.

My child is not getting the right support. What can I do?

You should first ask to speak with the person at your child’s school who is responsible for additional support for learning. You could ask for a meeting to discuss your concerns.

At the meeting, you could:

  • ask how the school feel they are meeting your child’s needs
  • share your concerns about your child’s support
  • share your child’s views about their support
  • ask for a written support plan
  • ask when the support will next be reviewed (as this should be done regularly).

Hopefully, this will help you to get the right support in place for your child, but there are further steps you can take if you need to. These are explained in our page on Solving problems with school.

How will my child be supported to plan for when they leave school?

The Scottish Government have committed to offering each young person an appropriate place in post-16 learning to equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to progress into adult life. Your child could choose to:

  • stay on at school after S4
  • go on to further education, e.g. college or university
  • attend training courses
  • become an apprentice.

Your child’s school should support them to decide what their next steps will be. This is called ‘transition planning’. Transition planning should start as early as possible, but must begin at least 12 months before your child is due to leave school.

Transition planning may include:

  • meetings between you, your child, and their school to discuss the options open to them
  • work experience or visits to colleges or universities
  • multi-agency meetings with the school and other relevant professionals, like a careers adviser, educational psychology, or social work.

For more information, please read our webpage Planning for leaving school.

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