Scottish pupils 'now at centre of support decisions'

Pupil doing homework Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Pupils will be part of the decision-making process in setting up any extra support

Scottish school pupils now have the most rights in Europe when it comes to asking for additional help, according to the Scottish government.

Legislation has come into force allowing children the right to influence decisions about gaining additional support with their studies.

Pupils can now approach their school or local council about extra help.

They will also be given "a stronger voice" and be part of the process in setting up any future tuition plans.

Education Secretary John Swinney said it meant Scottish pupils now have have a bigger say in their own education.

Provisions in the Education (Scotland) Act 2016 mean that from 10 January, youngsters aged between 12 and 15 who require additional support in their education will be able to influence decisions about this.

'Resolving disagreements'

As part of this, students will be able to ask their school or local council if they need extra help and to have a say in any support plans that are made.

They will also be entitled to have an advocate at meetings, to ensure their views are heard and to be actively involved in resolving disagreements about their support.

Mr Swinney said: "We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up. That means ensuring every young person is given an equal chance to fulfil their potential.

"I am already extremely proud of our record on inclusion but the new measures introduced today go even further to ensure that children in Scotland have the most rights in Europe when it comes to accessing the support they need within the education system.

"It is an extremely fitting start to the Year of Young People that children will now be more involved in the decisions that affect their education and be given a stronger voice on issues which affect their lives."

Image copyright PA
Image caption John Swinney says the government wants Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up

Councillor Stephen McCabe, the spokesman for children and young people for the local government body Cosla, said: "We are pleased that the act now gives children from the age of 12 - with the capacity to do so - the ability to exercise the same rights as parents, carers and young people 16 and over.

"It is fitting that this change comes at the beginning of the Year of Young People.

"That this will be aided by a service providing advice, information, advocacy and legal representation is key in ensuring children are supported in exploring and expressing their views and needs when it comes to support for their education."

Advice service Enquire, which works with those who need additional support for learning, also welcomed the changes.

Manager Sally Cavers said: "We know from our work with children and young people how important it is that they feel genuinely involved and listened to by the professionals supporting them, and how much this can influence whether they feel school is a negative or positive experience."

A spokesman for campaign organisation, Scottish Children's Services Coalition, said: "We are delighted to see these rights being extended to children aged 12 to 15 for the first time, meaning that children will now have more say than ever before in decisions about their education.

"This puts these children at the very heart of the decision-making process about their future, allowing them to achieve the best possible outcomes and reach their full potential.

"We do however echo the concerns of the education and skills committee of the Scottish Parliament, which in its report from May 2017 noted that children and young people with additional support needs (ASN) may not be getting the care support they need, in part due to an increase in the numbers of those identified, set against a background of cuts in additional support needs teachers and support staff.

"In this year, the Year of Young People, we would urge that those children and young people with ASN are given the care and support they need through the provision of adequate funding by the Scottish government and local authorities."

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