Here is an explanation of words and phrases which families in Scotland might hear in relation to their child's education and additional support needs.

Children and young people with additional support needs will require educational support that is more, or different, to what is generally provided in schools. The exact type and level of support will depend on the individual child or young person, school and education authority but can include a particular teaching approach or resource. It may involve support from staff in the school/education authority, such as an educational psychologist or a support for learning assistant; or support from other staff members, such as a speech and language therapist or social worker.

Additional support needs (ASNs)
The term additional support needs replaces 'special educational needs'. Any child or young person who needs more or different support in education to what is normally provided is said to have additional support needs.

Additional support needs auxiliary
A non-teaching member of staff who supports children and young people with additional support needs at school. Their titles may vary across education authorities.

Additional support needs tribunal for Scotland (ASNTS)
A tribunal is normally made up of a legally qualified convenor and two members who have experience of additional support needs. The tribunal hears and decides the outcome of appeals made by parents or young people on matters related to co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) post-school transitions and certain placing request refusals.

Advocate
Person who supports parents and pupils to express their views. Some advocates may speak or act on a parent's behalf at meetings with a school, an education authority, education appeal committee or at tribunal.

Appellant
A parent or, in some cases, a pupil, who is making an appeal (eg to the tribunal or the education appeal committee).

Appropriate agencies
Organisations and departments who must assist education authorities with their legal responsibilities, including other education authorities, health boards, further/higher education institutions and Skills Development Scotland.

Assessment 
An education authority may need to carry out assessments and examinations to help identify a child's or young person's additional support needs and/or whether a co-ordinated support plan is needed; or for the purpose of considering a child's or young person's additional support needs at any time. Assessments and examinations can be educational, psychological, medical or otherwise. Parents also have the right to request assessments and examinations on these occasions. 

Capacity
A child or young person is considered to have capacity if they are able to understand the nature and possible consequences of actions and decisions. Children are generally considered to have capacity when they are 12 years old or over. If a child or young person lacks capacity any rights they would have had under education law remain with the parent.

Careers Scotland
A part of Skills Development Scotland which provides services, information and support on career planning to people. Careers Scotland must take account of the Scottish Executive's Supporting children's learning: code of practice to help young people prepare to leave education and enter work and adult life.

Case officer
Additional Support Needs Tribunal staff member who communicates with parents and education authorities about an appeal to the Tribunal.

Case statement
A case statement is the further information a parent or young person may send to the tribunal to support their appeal. The length of the case statement period depends on what the tribunal has been asked to consider.

Child
In education law, 'child' refers to anyone under the age of 16 years. The law gives parents the right to greater involvement in making decisions about their child's education and also in trying to resolve any disagreements with an authority.

Child's plan
The Child’s Plan is based on improving outcomes for children and young people, using eight indicators to describe wellbeing: safe; healthy; achieving; nurtured; active; respected; responsible and included. It is envisaged that most children will not need a plan, only those who need extra specialist support to improve their wellbeing. Any plan will be produced by services in discussion with the child and family and will be reviewed regularly.

Clerk
Local authority staff member who communicates with parents and education authorities about an appeal to the education appeal committee.

Clinical psychologist
A professional who studies how people behave. They can make an assessment of a child's behavioural and emotional issues and may implement a behaviour management plan. Clinical psychologists are able to make the initial diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Code of Practice
This document, published by the Scottish Government, as Supporting children's learning: code of practice, provides guidance and practical advice to education authorities, schools and others on carrying out their legal responsibilities for educating children with additional support needs. Although it is not law, education authorities, schools and others such as health and social work must take account of it when making decisions. 

Co-ordinated support plan (CSP)
co-ordinated support plan (CSP) is a legal document which has details of a child's additional support needs, educational objectives and the support and staff members needed to help meet those objectives. It is designed to make sure that any services providing support to a child or young person are working together.

Not all children and young people will need a CSP and certain criteria must be met to be eligible for one. This is the only 'statutory' educational plan, which means that education authorities are required by law to provide the support and services it lays out. 

Continuing professional development (CPD)
Process to make sure teachers and others working in education can enhance their knowledge and skills.

Convenor
Legally qualified chair of the tribunal hearing.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE)
The Curriculum for Excellence aims to improve the learning, attainment and achievement of children and young people in Scotland and create a unified set of purposes and principles for the whole curriculum in Scotland from three to 18 years.

Dispute resolution 
Processes for resolving disagreements between education authorities and families (see also mediationindependent adjudication and additional support needs tribunal for Scotland).

Duty
Used in education law to describe an education authority's obligation to do or provide something.

Early years
Refers to pre-school children (generally three to four years old) and those under the age of three years.

Educational psychologist
Educational psychologists are often involved in identifying and assessing additional support needs. They are usually employed by the education authority to advise and help staff in schools and make recommendations on the needs of a child or young person. Some educational psychologists work on an independent basis and can be commissioned by parents to assess and report on their child.

Education appeal committee
The committee is made up of three, five or seven people from different backgrounds (including local councillors and parents). It is set up by an education authority to hear and decide exclusion appeals and certain placing request appeals.

Education authority
The part of the local council that is responsible for providing education, including to children and young people with additional support needs.

Education officer
Person from the education authority who communicates with parents about education arrangements. Some officers may have a specific responsibility for additional support needs. Their titles may vary across education authorities.

Education Scotland
Education Scotland is a public body charged with supporting quality and improvement in Scottish education. It provides support and resources for learning and teaching and has responsibility for the inspection and review of all schools and education services in Scotland.

Education welfare officer
Person employed by some education authorities to help parents and education authorities meet their legal responsibilities in relation to school attendance. In some areas education welfare officers may be known as education social workers or school attendance officers.

Exclusion
Exclusion is when a pupil is removed from school for a period of time or on a permanent basis, often as a result of their behaviour. Schools must provide alternative education 'without undue delay' to an excluded pupil.

Grant-aided school
A private school which is part-funded by the Scottish Government.

Hearing
The education appeal committee or tribunal meeting to hear and decide the outcome of appeals made by parents, and in some cases, pupils.

Home education
Some parents may choose to have their child educated at home instead of sending them to school. This is a legally recognised form of education. There may still be some involvement from an education authority, such as monitoring the education provided at home.

How good is our school?
Inspection publication that allows schools to evaluate their performance.

Independent adjudication
Process for helping a parent or young person to settle certain disagreements with an education authority. Independent adjudication allows both sides to explain their disagreement to an independent person who is appointed by the Scottish Government. The adjudicator looks at the information provided by the parent or young person and the education authority and suggests how the issue might be settled. 

Independent school
A school that is managed privately and not by an education authority). Fees are usually charged. 

Indvidualised educational and behavioural programme (IEBP)
Similar to an individualised education programme (IEP) but with a focus on behavioural issues.

Individualised educational programme (IEP)
An individualised education programme (IEP) is an educational plan which is prepared for certain children and young people with additional support needs by their school. The IEP should include details of the person's additional support needs, how these needs will be met, long- and short-term learning objectives, strategies, resources and support. Parents and their children should be involved when the IEP is being drawn up.

Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS)

LTS was the main organisation for the development and support of the Scottish curriculum until its merger with Her Majesty's Inspectorate for Education to form Education Scotland in 2011.

Local authority
Local council made up of different parts, such as housing, social work and education.

Looked-after children/looked-after and accommodated children
A child who is looked after by the local authority. This can happen for a number of reasons and can result in a child being placed in residential or foster care. 

Mainstream school
Any school which is not a special school.

Mediation
Process for helping a parent or young person to settle disagreements with an education authority. Mediation involves an informal meeting between the two sides with an independent mediator chairing the discussions. Mediation is voluntary, confidential and free to parents and young people.

Member
Person on a tribunal with knowledge and experience of additional support needs who may help the convenor decide the outcome. There are usually two members at a hearing.

Named Person
Every child in Scotland must have a Named Person who is the first point of contact for children and families and can be called upon if there is a concern about the child’s wellbeing. For pre-school children, this will be their health visitor and for school-aged children, this will be their head teacher, deputy head teacher or guidance teacher. 

Occupational therapy
Occupational therapists assess motor, sensory, perceptual, social, emotional and self-care skills. Working with the child, parents and teachers, they use therapeutic techniques (advising on equipment and environment adaptations where appropriate) to improve a child's ability to access the physical and learning curriculum. Purposeful activities and play are used to help a child attain maximum levels of functional performance, thus gaining self-esteem and independence.

Order 
The decision given by the additional support needs tribunal after an appeal hearing.

Parent
In education law, a parent is any person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person or who cares for them or has a duty to maintain them (ie provide maintenance). The law gives parents the right to greater involvement in making decisions about their child's education and also in trying to resolve any disagreements with an authority.

Parent council
Each school has a parent council to represent the views of the parent forum and report back to the forum; support the school's work with pupils; and encourage links between the school, parents, pupils and others.

Parent forum
All parents in a school are collectively known as the parent forum.

Peripatetic teacher
Teacher who is not based in one particular school but instead works in more than one place. Usually teaches in a particular field, such as visual impairment.

Personal learning planning (PLP)
Process which involves all pupils, including those with additional support needs. It sets achievable goals for learning and personal development and encourages children and young people to become more involved in their education.  Parents should be involved in the process, too. 

Physiotherapy
Therapy designed for problems with movement, posture and balance. A physiotherapist's main aim is to help a child function and move normally. They will carry out an assessment to find out what stage of development a child is at compared to a child without difficulties. The physiotherapist will decide treatment, recommend the number of times therapy will be needed and whether any special equipment is needed.

Placing request
Where a parent makes a written request to an education authority for their child to attend a particular school. Often used if a parent does not want their child to attend the school suggested by their authority.

Power
Used in education law to describe an education authority's discretion to do or provide something, where there is no legal obligation to do so (see Duty).

Pre-school community assessment team (pre-SCAT)
These teams or their equivalent operate in most local authority areas. They are usually made up of education, health and social work representatives that offer support, advice and resources to help meet the needs of pre-school children with additional support needs.

Pre-school education
The education a child gets before starting primary school, which could be in a nursery school or class, family centre, community childcare centre or playgroup. Children aged approximately three and four years old are entitled to free pre-school or nursery education. Some two year old children are also entitled eg those who are looked after, living in a workless household or who would be entitled to free school meals.

Pre-school home visiting service
Qualified teachers with experience of working with babies and young children who provide a home visiting service for pre-school children with additional support needs.

Presumption of mainstream
Term used to describe an education authority's duty to educate all children, including those with additional support needs, in mainstream schools, unless particular circumstances apply.

Public school
A school managed by a local authority in Scotland.

Reference
If a parent or young person wishes to challenge an authority's decision at tribunal, they must fill in a reference form and submit it to the Additional Support Needs for Scotland Tribunal administration. The form contains details of their disagreement with the authority.

Request
In education law, where a parent or young person has the right to request something from an education authority. This request must be made in a permanent format, such as in writing, via email, audio or video format and include reasons for making the request.

Review
The review of educational plans, such as individualised educational programmes (IEPs) or co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) which an education authority must make. IEPs should be reviewed each term and CSPs must be reviewed every 12 months or earlier if a child's additional support needs change.

School age
Generally considered to be five to 15 years (inclusive). However, a young person can stay in school until their 18th birthday. In practice, this may be extended beyond 18 years, particularly in special schools.

Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
SQA is the national body in Scotland that is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications (apart from degrees).

SMART
Targets that are set for children and young people, such as those outlined in an IEP, should be:

  • specific (ie it is clear what the child or young person is working towards)
  • measurable (clear when objectives have been achieved)
  • achievable (for the child or young person)
  • relevant (to the child's or young person's needs and circumstances)
  • timebound (to be achieved by a specified time).

Special school 
A school which provides education that is specially suited for pupils with additional support needs. This also includes specialist classes or units in public schools.

Specialist unit
Some schools may have a specialist unit attached to or in the main school that supports pupils with additional support needs, including autism spectrum disorders. For example, a language and communication resource (LCR).

Speech and language therapy
The aim of speech and language therapy is to help adults and children with speech, language and communication difficulties (and associated difficulties with eating and swallowing) to communicate as best as they possibly can and be independent in all aspects of life.

Staged intervention
Some schools may use different 'stages' to help identify, assess and provide for pupils with additional support needs. The approach recognises that where necessary, increasing levels of specialist input should be used to meet the educational needs of a child or young person.

Supporter
Person who accompanies a parent or young person to meetings with an education authority, education appeal committee or at tribunal. Supporters may be friends, relatives or professionals.

Support for learning/Learning support assistant
A widely used job title for an assistant providing in-school support for pupils with additional support needs. A support for learning assistant will normally work with a particular pupil (or pupils) and provide assistance to their teachers.

Transition 
Transition describes a period of change that a child or young person experiences in education, such as starting nursery, primary or secondary education and changing or leaving school. There are also transitions which may not be planned, such as an exclusion or school closures. Education authorities must help certain children and young people with additional support needs at these times to make sure that the transition occurs smoothly.

Witness citation
A document that orders a witness to go to a tribunal hearing.

Working day
In education law, a working day is normally any day apart from a Saturday, Sunday, bank holiday, 27-31 December inclusive, or any day in July.

It is useful for families to bear this in mind when working out time limits and deadlines (for example, if your local authority is preparing a co-ordinated support plan for your child, they have to do this within a certain period of time). Families who need assistance with calculating deadlines can contact our Education Rights Service on 0808 800 4102.

Young person
In education law 'young person' refers to anyone aged 16 or 17 years old. When a child turns 16 they become a young person and have certain rights in relation to their education. If a young person is not able to understand the nature and possible consequences of actions and decisions, the parent retains any rights.

Useful reading 

  1. Scottish Government (2010). Supporting children's learning: code of practice. ISBN: 978 0 7559 9470 0
  2. Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland. Additional support needs tribunals for Scotland DVD.

The publications mentioned above are available from:

1. Scottish Government (Learning Directorate)
Tel: 08457 741741
Website: www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Education

2 and 3. Additional Support Needs Tribunal for Scotland
Tel: 0846 120 2906 
Website: www.asntscotland.gov.uk

Further help from our charity

Further help for parents trying to obtain an appropriate education for their child is available from our Education Rights Service on 0808 800 4102.

Last reviewed: 31 March 2016.