Here we look at co-ordinated support plans (CSP), how to determine if your child needs a plan and the process for requesting and preparing one. 

What is a CSP?

A CSP is an education plan prepared by local authorities for certain children and young people with additional support needs. The plan outlines:

  • their additional support needs
  • objectives that have been set for them to achieve
  • the support they need to achieve the objectives.

The CSP is a legal document, meaning that the local authority must make sure that the child or young person receives the support detailed in their plan. 

What is the advantage of a CSP?

Some children and young people with additional support needs require a high level of input from a number of different services, such as education, health and social work. A CSP makes sure that these services work together to give the child or young person the support they need.   

As CSPs are the only education plans that are legal documents, some parents feel that they are the best way to make sure that their child's needs are met.  

Which children and young people should have a CSP?

Not all children and young people with additional support needs have a CSP, many will have their needs met without one. A CSP is for those who have complex and high level needs. 

A child or young person must meet certain criteria before a CSP is prepared for them. 

CSP criteria

A CSP can only be prepared for a child or young person that a local authority is responsible for. If your child is educated in a local authority school or pre-school or has been placed in an independent school by a local authority, then the authority is considered responsible for your child's education. 

However, if you choose to educate your child at home or pay the fees for your child to attend an independent school, then your local authority is not responsible for your child and they will not receive a CSP. There may still be occasions when you can request support from your local authority. 

The other criteria that your child must meet relate to the type of additional support needs they have and how long these will continue for. A CSP will only be prepared for children who have complex or multiple additional support needs which have a 'significant adverse effect' on most areas of their learning. These needs must also last for 12 months or longer.

An autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex and lifelong developmental disability. In order for them to meet the criteria, you need to demonstrate that your child's difficulties significantly affect most of their learning and development. 

Finally, you must be able to show that the level of support your child needs with their education is 'significant' and should be provided by education services and at least one of the following:

  • a health service, such as speech and language therapy, or occupational therapy
  • a local authority service outside of education, such as social work
  • another education authority
  • further or higher education, such as a college or university
  • Skills Development Scotland, including Careers Scotland.

Guidance on deciding whether support is significant or not has been issued to local authorities. It says that:

  • 'significant' refers to the level of the support provided to your child and not the effect the support would have on them
  • the support that is to be considered includes any approach, personnel or resources, or a combination of these, that your child needs
  • the frequency, nature and intensity of any support should be considered
  • any support should enable your child to benefit from education and their educational targets
  • any support should last long enough to make the preparation of a CSP worthwhile.

When determining whether your child needs significant support, the local authority must consider all the education and support that they need, not what is available or can be afforded.

How can I get a CSP for my child?

If your child meets the criteria for a CSP, the local authority must prepare one. Before doing so, they must contact you and involve you in the process. They may ask to carry out particular assessments or examinations to help confirm whether a CSP is needed. 

The authority has a limited amount of time to prepare the CSP. If they fail to meet this time limit you can challenge this at the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland. If you have any concerns or questions, get in touch with your local authority in the first instance. 

Each local authority has a legal duty to find out which of the children they are responsible for needs a CSP. For details of how this will happen in your area, contact your local authority.

If you feel that your child may be entitled to a CSP and you haven't been contacted by the school or local authority, then contact them to discuss your concerns.  

You can also write to the authority to ask them to find out whether your child needs a CSP and to request that they carry out particular assessments, such as speech and language tests, if you think this will help with the process. The authority must reply to you within a certain period of time. If they don't, you can appeal to the tribunal.

If you would like help in making a request to your local authority, our Education Rights Service can help.  

What if my request for a CSP is refused?

A local authority can refuse to give your child a CSP. If they do this then you must be notified of the refusal, their reasons for refusing and the rights you have to challenge the decision. 

If your request has been refused and you have not received this information, then contact your local authority to discuss this. 

What if my child doesn't meet the criteria?

If your child does not meet the criteria, the local authority can't prepare a CSP for them.

However, your local authority must meet your child's additional support needs even if they don't have a CSP. They might do this by preparing an alternative education plan, such as an individualised educational programme. If you feel that your child's needs aren't being met, you can take action.

For example, if your local authority has told you that your child does not need additional support, or is proposing to reduce support, you can ask to take part in mediation and/or ask for the decision to be reviewed by an independent adjudicator

If you have been told that your child does not meet the criteria for a CSP, you can challenge their decision at the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland. You may want to discuss your concerns with your child's school or your local authority in the first instance. 

Read more about getting your child's additional support needs assessed

Preparing a CSP

If your local authority is preparing a CSP for your child, they need to involve the services that will be providing support eg health or education services. The local authority must also involve you and your child, recording your views in the CSP. It is likely that a draft CSP will be compiled first for everyone to agree upon. 

Content of a CSP

The format of a CSP may vary slightly in each local authority area, but the final plan must contain the following information:

  • your details, your child's details, and a profile of your child and their needs
  • the educational objectives that your child is expected to achieve in a specified period of time
  • the additional support that your child needs in order to meet these objectives and who will be providing that support
  • the school your child will attend
  • your comments on any part of the CSP or its preparation
  • your child's comments on any part of the CSP or its preparation
  • details of the CSP review
  • the contact details of relevant people, such as education officers, you can contact for further advice and a named person who will co-ordinate and monitor the support outlined in the CSP. 

An example of a CSP can be found in the useful reading section of Supporting children's learning: code of practice. Local authorities use this template as a guide.

What if I'm unhappy with the content of the CSP?

You may find that you disagree with some of the content of your child's CSP. If you are unhappy with the details of your child's needs, the educational objectives that have been set, the support that is to be provided or the people providing the support, you can challenge this at the Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland.  

You may want to discuss your concerns with your child's school or your local authority in the first instance. 

CSP review

Once a local authority has prepared a CSP for your child, they must monitor and review it to make sure that it addresses your child's additional support needs.

A formal review must be carried out approximately every 12 months to discuss your child’s needs, progress and their educational objectives. New objectives will  be set for your child and there will be a discussion about the support that they need to meet them and who will be providing the support. The local authority must involve you and your child in this process.

A review may take place early if the local authority feels that there has been a significant change to your child's additional support needs and the CSP is no longer adequately meeting them. Parents also have the right to request an early review if they feel that their child's needs have changed and this has not been addressed by the local authority.  

Other educational plans

Your child may have one or more educational plans. All plans should consider the support documented in others to encourage communication between the sources of provision and prevent duplication. For example, an education plan should take into account support already provided in a health and social work plan. If your child has one or more statutory plan, they may be contained in a single child’s plan

When a local authority is preparing to review one of your child's plans, they should take any other plans and review schedules into consideration for the same reasons.

If you would like to know more about the plans available to your child, get in touch with your local authority, as things can differ across Scotland.

Further help from our charity

The National Autistic Society’s Education Rights Service can provide information, support and advice on educational provision and entitlements for children and young people on the autism spectrum.  

Useful reading

Supporting children's learning: code of practice. Scottish Government (2010).

Autism toolbox. A resource for Scottish schools. Scottish Government.

Last reviewed: 17 May 2016.