At the last meeting of Fife Council I asked the Administration what percentage of young people in Fife schools are recognised as having an Additional Support Need (ASN). The response I was given - it is just over a quarter - 29%.
Following attending a policy conference last month on ASN provision in Scottish schools and listening a variety of speakers - some from education, others with personal experience it once again became clear to me that there is a disparity of provision, a disparity of understanding and a disparity of how information is provided to key stakeholders - parents and pupils.
With this in mind and my own experience as having been an ASN teacher prior to being elected, I decided that further to my initial question what needed to be asked was how to ensure that information on access to certain services is made widely available - available to all. This also draw on personal experience, I have had constituents contact me concerned that policies in place in their child's school do not always reflect, what they perceive, to be the support that is required. Support can, and is sporadic, and does not always include all services - or it does for a period of time and then one or the other drops out of the approach.
A document known as a Co-ordindated Support Plan (CSP) can be put in place to ensure that adequate input from all services (a multi-agency approach) is available to any young person who is considered to have an ASN. What is key to this document is, it is a legal document.
Whilst some support needs are lifelong, others are not. An ASN could be the requirement for extra support to non-native speakers of English or it could be for a lifelong condition, such as an Autism Spectrum Disorder - in either case, what is essential is that young people and their parents know their rights and what they can access for support.
Amendments to the Additional Support for Learning Act have provided young people from the age of 12 with a range of rights - including requesting a specific assessment to establish if a CSP is required - below is a list of some of these rights.
My request is that both Fife Direct and individual school websites publish this information. Access to services should not be confusing and opaque. 2018 is Year of Young People so lets ensure the young people themselves are fully aware of their rights.
· ask the education authority to establish whether a child or young person has additional support needs
· request a specific type of assessment or examination (or both) at any time, including when the education authority proposes to formally identify whether a child or young person has additional support needs, or requires a coordinated support plan(a “CSP”)
· receive information or advice about a child or young person’s additional support needs
· ask the education authority responsible for their or their child’s education to find out whether they or their child requires a coordinated support plan, and to review an existing plan
· request a specific type of assessment and/or examination to find out whether they or their child require a coordinated support plan
· express their views and have them taken into account and noted in the child or young person’s coordinated support plan
· have their case heard by an Additional Support Needs Tribunal if they are involved in a dispute relating to a coordinated support plan.
· make a placing request to a special school if they or their child has additional support needs*
· appeal against the education authority’s decision to refuse their placing request. The appeal would either go to an education appeal committee or to an Additional Support Needs Tribunal depending on the situation
· agree that information can be shared about them with other agencies to support transition planning
· use free independent mediation services*
· request independent adjudication
· apply to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal (called 'making a reference') for decisions about a CSP and certain other issues. In particular, a parent or young person may make a reference about the decisions of an education authority:
o to prepare or not prepare a CSP;
o to continue or discontinue a CSP;
o regarding the timescales for the CSP;
o not to comply with a request to establish whether a child or young person needs a CSP;
o to refuse a placing request where a CSP exists, or is required but has not yet been prepared, or if an appeal against a refusal of a placing request has not yet been considered.