Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs)

Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs)

Some children have long term, multiple or complex support needs that mean they need a significant amount of support from multiple departments and agencies, not just education. Their support should be planned, provided and reviewed with the help of a specific legal support plan, a co-ordinated support plan (CSP).

In this section we’ll look at:

  • which children and young people must have a CSP
  • children and young people’s rights to support under a CSP 
  • requesting CSPs for one of your learners, and
  • your role within the assessment, drafting and reviewing of CSPs.

If you would like a general refresher on planning and how it can help you and your learners, take a look at our page on Planning learners’ additional support.

Should my learner have a CSP?

When a local authority is responsible for a child or young person’s education, that child must have a CSP if they:

  1. Need support due to complex or multiple factors that negatively and significantly affect their education

    It’s the impact on the child or young person’s learning that is important, rather than the reason they need help. The individual factors may not be complex on their own, but accumulatively they have a significant negative impact on a child or young person’s learning.

  2. Will, or are likely to, need long term support (for more than a year), and

  3. Need significant additional support from education and from another department of the local authority (such as social work) or another agency or agencies to reach their educational goals.

    This can include an NHS board, another local authority, Skills Development Scotland, or a further or higher education institution. Whether support being provided is significant will depend on factors including the frequency, nature, intensity and duration of the support they need. The significance of the support needed is from the point of view of the agency providing it. A relatively small amount of support can have a big impact on a child, but not necessarily require in-depth coordination and planning. It is also about the total amount of support that an agency is providing, for example a child might receive input from multiple health professionals whose individual input is not significant, but added together there may be significant support being provided by the NHS.

If you have a learner that meets the above criteria, they must have a CSP. It is not about whether they or their parents/carers have requested one, or whether others think it will be helpful or not. A CSP helps you and your colleagues work together with other professionals who are also providing a lot of support to your learner. It helps you work from the same plan, towards the same goals, to ensure your learner can benefit fully from their education.

By law, all looked after children and young people must be assessed to see if they need a CSP.

For more detail about the eligibility criteria, see the Scottish Government statutory guidance on CSPs.

Does a CSP change a learners’ rights to support?

A CSP is the only legal education support plan used in Scotland. This means the support written into a CSP must be provided. The plan must also be reviewed at least annually. A CSP gives children and young people, and their families, more security. They have a right to take concerns relating to the content or delivery of support in a CSP to an Independent Tribunal .

However, a co-ordinated support plan does not change a child or young person’s right to additional support. Learners who need extra help at school or nursery have the right to get the support they need, with or without a CSP.

Requesting a CSP

If you are supporting a child or young person who may meet the criteria for a CSP, you should consider referring them to be assessed for one. You can discuss this with your colleague who takes lead responsibility for additional support for learning at your nursery or school. They should arrange a meeting with your learner and their family to discuss things before requesting an assessment for a CSP. It might be helpful to share with the family our Factsheet on Co-ordinated Support Plans .  

If everyone agrees a child or young person may meet the criteria for a CSP, the nursery or school should request an assessment from your local authority’s additional support for learning contact .

If a parent or carer think their child should have a CSP, they also have a right to request their child is assessed for one. They can do this directly themselves to the local authority, or they may request this through you as a nursery or school. If they do so, you should pass this request on to your local authority’s additional support for learning contact without delay. Most young people over 12 also have a right to ask to be assessed for a CSP.


Assessing and drafting a CSP

When a local authority is asked to assess a child for a CSP, they have 8 weeks to confirm if they will do so. This can be extended to 16 weeks in some situations, like if the request is made over the summer holidays.

If they agree to assess for a CSP they need to confirm this in writing. From then, they have a further 16 weeks to decide if the child or young person needs a CSP. If they do, their plan must be completed by the end of the same period. Again, in some situations this can be extended up to 24 weeks, but the local authority must write to explain why they need more time.

You may be asked to contribute throughout this process. For example, you may be asked to share your understanding of your learner’s support needs and a summary of what support you currently provide them with. If a CSP is being drafted, you may also be part of the initial meeting with the child or young person and their family that will help the local authority produce a first draft.  

Each CSP must have a CSP co-ordinator who is the lead professional responsible for making sure a child or young person receives the support written into their plan. Often this person will take a lead role in drafting the CSP, but sometimes they will be appointed once the plan is finalised.

Remember: Even if a child or young person is waiting to be assessed for a CSP, or for their plan to be drafted, they still have a right to support in the meantime.

Contents of a CSP

A CSP should be clear and succinct. It should set specific longer-term objectives for a child or young person’s education. It should set out what support is required to help them meet those objectives, and who will be providing that support.

The Scottish Government has produced a CSP template with supporting notes to help you understand what level of detail should be contained within a CSP.

Short-term objectives and support should generally continue to be recorded in other types of plans which can be reviewed and updated more regularly. This may mean a learner has various concurrent plans. For example, a child living in care may have:

  • a Child’s Plan to help social services plan their living and care arrangements
  • a CSP to help school, educational psychology and social work coordinate long-term support for their education, and
  • an individualised educational programme (IEP) to help school set short-term goals and review their support each term.

CSPs must also contain the views of the child or young person, and their family.

Reviewing CSPs

CSPs must be reviewed at least every 12 months. They must be updated and signed off within 12 weeks of the expiry date on the CSP. In specific situations, this can sometimes be extended up to 20 weeks.

If a child or young person’s needs or circumstances change significantly, it may be appropriate to request an early review of their support plan. If you think this may be needed, speak to the CSP co-ordinator who will be named on the CSP. They should discuss this with the learner and their family and request an early review from the local authority. The local authority has 4 weeks to decide if they agree to a request for an early review.

If you are not directly involved in a review meeting, you should still be updated on any changes to their CSP that you need to know about.

When people disagree

There are various stages where a disagreement may arise to do with a CSP. Parents may request an assessment for a CSP for their child, and the local authority may refuse their request or decide they do not meet the criteria after an assessment. A young person may feel they are not receiving the support written into their plan. Or following a review it may be decided to end a child’s CSP, but their carers feel they should still have one.

As with any disagreement about a child’s additional support for learning, there are steps you can take to try and work together with your learner, their family and others supporting them to try and reach an agreement about the best way forwards. For tips, see our advice on Involving learners and their families in decisions .

CSPs must include the views of the child or young person, and their parent or carer. These sections of the plan should note any areas of differences of opinion. Including this in the plan can sometimes help ensure everyone feels heard and their views acknowledged.

If there is still a disagreement to do with a CSP, parents and carers (and most children over 12) have a right to take their concerns to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal. If you are working with a learner and their family who are concerned about a decision or the implementation of their child’s CSP, it can be helpful to suggest they seek advice from Enquire . Our helpline advisers can listen to their concerns and help them consider their options. We will always try to help people find ways to resolve disputes in the quickest and most amicable way possible.

Quick Tips

More like this

Module: Planning and reviewing learners’ support

15-30 minute learning module to introduce planning and reviewing learners’ support.

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Short-life working group on CSPs

Final report looks at the current gap between the law and policy on CSPs, and their use in practice. It makes recommendations for overcoming these barriers to implementing CSPs.

Read final report

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