What is meant if I am told that my child may have additional support needs?
The majority of children and young people are able to access their learning without the need of additional help other than that which is normally provided..
However, there will be a small percentage of children/young people, who may, at some point in their education, have difficulties that will act as a barrier to their effective learning. In such circumstances the child or young person may require additional support beyond the norm in order to help them overcome these barriers.
Such children/young people will be considered to have additional support needs.
What is meant by a barrier to their effective learning?
A barrier is any circumstance in the child/young person’s life that can be shown to interfere with their learning. Barriers may arise from a range of circumstances:
- learning environment
- family circumstances
- disability or health
- social and emotional factors
This list is not exhaustive nor should it be assumed that inclusion in the list automatically implies that additional support will be necessary.
Most barriers will fit into one or more of the above general categories, but the important thing to remember is that it will always be specific to the circumstances for any individual child/young person.
Do these barriers need to be present all the time?
Absolutely not – in some circumstances they will be a part of the child/young person’s life right through their education, but in other circumstances the barriers may be very short term and may arise from a specific sudden event in a child/young person’s life.
If my child does have additional support needs what help will be available?
Naturally, this depends on the nature of the problem that is causing the barrier to their learning. It will be the responsibility of the education establishment and the local authority to put measures in place to help overcome these barriers.
It is anticipated that any difficulties in your child’s learning will be dealt with by the establishment through systematic planning for meeting the needs of individual children.
How will I know what is going on?
As a parent, you will be involved from the beginning in understanding the nature of your child’s additional support needs, planning how to meet these needs and being a part of reviewing the progress that is being made to overcome any barriers to learning.
Can I request an assessment to be carried out?
If you have any concerns about your child’s progress, you have the right to ask for an assessment to be undertaken (process of assessment).
What will happen if my child’s needs are really significant and longstanding?
At one level the process will be the same, but it may well be that other agencies other than education will be involved in supporting you and your child. In such cases it may lead to a more formal record of your child’s needs, how they will be met and how all agencies involved will coordinate their efforts to make sure that your child gets the best support possible. In such circumstances your child’s needs may be recorded in a legal document called a Coordinated Support Plan.
Dispute resolution and mediation
Dispute resolution was set up under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (Amended 2009). It is a formal process that is recognised in law. All education authorities must now have a dispute resolution process.
We also have an independent Mediation Service which is an alternative to dispute resolution.
Where can I get more information about additional support needs?
In the first instance you should contact your child’s education establishment. The head of establishment or member of the senior management team will be happy to discuss the issues in more detail with you. You may also contact the local authority centrally.
Additional support needs