Calling All Parents And Carers : Get In The Know!

Understanding parents’ and carers’ rights

Do you know what rights you have as a parent or carer of child with additional support needs (ASN)?

Parents have a range of specific rights under additional support for learning law. The definition of ‘parent’ goes further than birth parent or anyone with parental responsibilities and parental rights. It includes anyone who cares for the child, which includes anyone they live with. So, if a child lives with a foster carer, family member or prospective adopter, that person has the power to ask for the ASL Act to be applied.

Parents have the right to:

  • have their views listened to and be involved in decisions about their child’s education and support
  • have a supporter or advocate present at meetings about their child’s needs
  • ask the local authority to find out whether their child has additional support for learning needs
  • ask the local authority for a specific assessment of their child’s additional support needs
  • receive information or advice about their child’s additional support needs
  • ask the local authority responsible for their child’s education to find out whether their child requires a co-ordinated support plan (CSP)
  • ask their local authority for a specific assessment to find out if their child needs a CSP
  • be asked for their views and for them to be taken account in their child’s CSP
  • use the free independent ASL mediation service
  • make a referral to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal
  • make a placing request
  • appeal against a local authority decision to refuse their placing request
  • request independent adjudication.


Do you know what the term ‘additional support needs’ means?

All children and young people need support to help them learn. Through good quality learning and teaching, staff in early learning and childcare settings and schools are able to meet a diverse range of needs without additional support.

Some children will require support that is additional to, or different from, that received by other children of the same age to ensure they benefit from education, whether early learning, school or preparation for life after school.

There are many reasons why children from early years and onwards to support them to learn.

Additional support needs may be short or long term or during a difficult period. Needs may arise for any number of reasons:

  • disability or health
  • learning environment
  • family circumstances
  • social and emotional factors

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 informs parents of their rights in respect of what support should be provided for children and young people.

Different levels of planning may be required to make sure that your child gets the right support.

These include personal learning planning, individualised educational programmes and co-ordinated support plans.

  • Personal Learning Planning

Personal learning planning (PLP) is for all children and young people, regardless of whether or not they have any additional support needs. Different schools will have their own approaches and formats. Ask your child’s school how they do it.

Personal learning planning involves you, your child and their teacher in discussing:

  1. what your child is going to be learning
  2. what evidence of achievements and progress will look like
  3. planning for the next steps

This can help to identify any additional support needs that your child may have.

Read the Scottish Government’s practical advice for parents on personal learning planning (available in a range of languages) here

Staged intervention

This is a structured process used to identify the level of support required to meet the learning needs of an individual child or young person.

Staged intervention models may vary from one local authority to another but generally there are three, four or five stages. A child’s progress is regularly reviewed, and they may move between stages.

Individualised Educational Programmes

An individualised educational programme (IEP) is a written document that outlines the steps to be taken to help a child or young person with additional support needs to achieve specified learning outcomes.

Find out more about individualised educational programmes (PDF file).

Co-ordinated Support Plans

This statutory plan is used to identify, and ensure provision of, services for children and young people with complex or multiple additional support needs. Your child may be eligible for a co-ordinated support plan if:

  • Their needs have a significant negative effect on their school education and are likely to last at least a year, and
  • They need support from a local authority and at least one other non-education service or agency.

The Scottish Government has provided guidance on co-ordinated support plans. Schools will also be aware of, and will use, Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) pronounced ‘girfeck’. It’s the national approach to make sure that all the people who support your child work together to give you and your child the right help at the right time. A more detailed look at GIRFEC follows.

Getting it right for every child (known as GIRFEC) is the national approach intended to make sure that all the people who support your child work together seamlessly to give you and your child the right help at the right time.

What does GIRFEC mean for me and my child?

Whenever your child needs help or support, GIRFEC aims to make sure that both you and your child:

  • feel confident about the help being given
  • understand what is happening and why
  • are listened to carefully, with your wishes heard and understood
  • are appropriately involved in discussions and decisions that affect you
  • can rely on appropriate help being available as soon as possible
  • experience a fair and co-ordinated response from staff.

Important elements of GIRFEC are:

By 2016 every child and young person aged 0-18 will have a named person – someone that you or your child can contact whenever you have any concerns or problems.

If at any time your child needs support from people in different professions and organisations (for example health and social work) as well as school staff, someone called a lead professional will be appointed to ensure that all the people supporting your child work well together.

GIRFEC focuses on eight areas of wellbeing that are important for your child to grow and develop to reach their full potential. These are:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Achieving
  • Nurtured
  • Active
  • Respected
  • Responsible
  • Included

Staff use the wellbeing wheel to assess your child’s wellbeing across all eight areas, and to identify what’s good in a child’s life and whether there are any areas where support is needed.

Staff also use the ‘My World Triangle’ to understand a child or young person as a whole and to get a better picture of their needs.
You can also view text versions of the information contained in the wellbeing wheel and My World triangle.

PDF file: Wellbeing wheel and My World Triangle – text versions (83 KB)

Further information about GIRFEC:

Wellbeing for young Scots – a young person’s guide to GIRFEC

Children, young people and families section of the Scottish Government website

Scottish Government – Guide to Getting it right for every child.

Children and Young People Act

The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 takes forward the Getting it right for every child approach to ensure that:

  • all children and young people from birth to 18 years old have access to a Named Person
  • a single planning process is put in place to support those children who require it
  • a definition of wellbeing exists in legislation
  • public bodies have a duty to co-ordinate the planning, design and delivery of services for children and young people, with a focus on improving wellbeing outcomes, and to report collectively on how they are improving those outcomes.

Why should parents and carers be involved?

You should be given the opportunity to be involved fully in discussions and decisions about your child’s learning. You want what is best for your child and have unique knowledge and experience to contribute to understanding their additional support needs. You have a key role to play in your child’s education. The home environment is the place which is most important for your child’s learning and development.

Parents are central to ensuring that their children get what they are entitled to and building partnerships with parents and carers is expected of schools. Understanding your own and your children’s rights builds knowledge and creating relationships with those who have the responsibility for making sure your children learn will give you the confidence to make sure you are involved every step of the way.

Parenting children who need that extra support isn’t easy. But the more informed you are, the more you understand the systems in place that are designed to help you, the more effective you will become. Don’t make it someone else’s business or feel you’re on the outside, make sure you know what to do and when and act when necessary. There are organisations who can help if and when you need them. Our parent workshops offer skill-building sessions for mums and dads and families just lie you – contact us if you’re interested in us coming to your area.

You can speak to your child’s school which should to provide you with information about your child’s additional support need.

To maintain strong relationships with families, it’s important that the professionals who support children with additional support needs understand parental rights and collaborate with you as much as possible so schools and teachers should welcome your involvement. If they do not, let us know, we’d like to help improve these types of situations. We know that things don’t always work the way it says it should on paper, relationships are the most difficult things to get right, especially when there are differing opinions and interests and of course perspectives.

You as the parent or carer can try to build the confidence and skills to be the effective advocate you ned to be for your child.  We hear stories of battle=worn and stressed mums and dads but things can improve, trying a different approach, finding out a bit about how perception cause relationships to break down. There are many supremely effective simple solutions you can gift yourself if you want to. Find out a little more about how we can help you become the most effective parent you can be.


The Scottish Child Law Centre is one of only a few dedicated providers of free information on matters of law concerning children and young people in Scotland. Providers FREE EXPERT LEGAL ADVICE and information about children’s right and child law in Scotland through our telephone advice line and email.

Advice Line open Mon- Fri 9.30am – 4pm  Tel: 0131 667 6333

Freecall Under 21s (landlines); 0800 328 8970 (mobiles) 0300 3301421

The national support organisations for additional support needs are:

Parentzone Scotland provides information and guidance on specific support needs.


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