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How are additional support needs identified and assessed?

Photo: You have the right to ask the LA for an assessment of your child’s needs

Local authorities (LAs) in Scotland must put in place appropriate arrangements for identifying which children and young people have additional support needs. Each LA will have its own Additional Support Needs Policy giving details of local arrangements.

You can contact your LA and ask for a copy of their policy – if it isn’t on their website.

As a parent, if you think your child has additional support needs that haven’t been identified, or aren’t being met, you have the right to ask the LA for an assessment of your child’s needs. A young person (aged 16 or over) can make a request for their own assessment. If you feel that your child needs significant additional support, you should specifically ask that the assessment consider if your child should have a coordinated support plan (CSP).

A request for an assessment should be made in writing, and should include the reasons why you feel your child needs to be assessed. The LA must comply with your request unless it considers the request unreasonable, for example an assessment was done recently and there haven’t been any changes since then.

Professionals working with your child can also request an assessment, but they should discuss their concerns with you so that you’re aware and involved in what’s happening.

If you asked for a CSP you should receive a response from the LA within four weeks. If you didn’t specify a CSP when you asked for your child to be assessed, you should receive a response from the LA on whether they will carry out an assessment within 10 weeks. If the LA refuses to carry out an assessment, you can seek mediation or independent adjudication.

Once the LA has agreed to carry out an assessment, they should let you know who will carry out the assessment and provide you with their contact details. This key contact or coordinator should keep you updated throughout the assessment process.

The assessment may include informal observations by teachers and more formal assessments from education, medical or psychological professionals. So, for example, a child who is deaf may be assessed by a Teacher of the Deaf (ToD), speech and language therapist, and educational psychologist. It will be up to the LA to decide who is best placed to carry out the assessment.

The assessment may lead to the development of an additional support plan (ASP), individual education programme (IEP) or a CSP.

Unless your child will be having a CSP, there are no specific timescales for when these plans must be produced – this will depend on the LA’s policy and also the education setting’s approach.

How can I contribute to the assessment process?

The assessment of your child should involve discussions with you and others who know your child well together with assessments from professionals. Your child may also have their own information to add.

Here are some factors that may be relevant to your child. Information about these different factors can help the LA to identify your child’s needs and this will then help them to identify the type of support that needs to be put in place.

Receptive skills

This is about how your child receives and understands language.

Explain:

  • the method of communication people should use so that your child can receive and understand information
  • what helps them to understand
  • how you can tell they have understood
  • how well they make eye contact.

Expressive language

This is about how well your child can express themselves.

Explain:

  • what language they use to communicate
  • how easy they find it to communicate with you, your family, friends, teachers, other children (deaf and hearing) and people they don’t know well
  • whether you think they are using the right level of language for their age.

Concentration and attention

Say:

  • how long your child can concentrate on an activity
  • whether there are times when they becomes frustrated or behave in a difficult way, and what causes this.

Self-help

Describe:

  • what your child can do for themselves (for example, can they organise their things)
  • how good they are at helping and looking after themselves (for example, combing their hair, brushing their teeth, getting dressed, making a sandwich).

Motor skills

There are two types of motor skills – fine motor skills (the ability to make precise movements) and gross motor skills (involving large, non-precise movements).

Explain:

  • your child’s fine motor skills, such as holding a pencil or using scissors
  • your child’s gross motor skills, such as climbing and riding a bike
  • whether you feel your child's skills are about average, above average or below average for their age
  • whether any activities cause concern for you, or frustrate your child.

Responsibility

Say:

  • whether your child can take responsibility for themselves
  • whether they treat their own and other people's things with respect.

Social skills

Say:

  • whether your child plays alone, alongside other children, or with other children
  • whether your child relates better to children or adults
  • whether your child is aware of, and considers, other people's feelings.

Confidence and self-esteem

Say:

  • whether your child is comfortable and confident with themselves
  • whether your child is as mature as other children the same age
  • whether your child behaves appropriately.

General views

Set out:

  • what you think your child’s additional needs for learning are
  • what support you think your child needs.