The Scottish Government has stepped in to safeguard advocacy services for parents of children with additional support needs (ASN).
The two main voluntary services that support and represent parents in Scotland challenging their child’s ASN educational provision are to receive £110,000 to assist them with this work over this financial year.
Children’s Minister Adam Ingram said:
“The Scottish Government wants all our children to receive an education that maximises learning and encourages development. This is particularly relevant when a child has additional support needs to be considered.
“Most local authorities are doing an excellent job in meeting these needs, however there are occasions when a parent disagrees with the approach or education provision that their child is receiving.
“The ASN Tribunal plays a vital role – listening to the two parties and finding a solution that is in the best interests of the child – and it is crucial that parents continue to get the necessary support.”
ISEA (Independent Special Education Advice) Scotland will receive £60,000 to continue providing advocacy support and representation for parents at Additional Support Needs Tribunals for Scotland (ASNTS).
Govan Law Centre will be given £50,000 to fund a six month project to build up the voluntary sectors’ capacity to support parents at ASNTS. They will also make recommendations on how the Scottish Government can enhance this provision from the voluntary sector in the longer term.
Mr Ingram added:
“For a parent, representing their child at a tribunal hearing can be very difficult, therefore the representation services provided by the ISEA and Govan Law Centre are invaluable.
“The funding announced today will allow these services to develop their support and provision, while longer term we are giving careful consideration to how we can further improve advocacy support to parents at ASNTS.”
Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, local authorities have a duty to give extra help to all children and young people who require additional support with their learning. ASN Tribunals hear and decide on appeals by parents over the co-ordinated support plans education authorities have in place for these children, who often need support from a range of services due to complex or multiple factors.
ISEA Scotland’s main grant funder, the Big Lottery Fund, did not renew its grant this year and Ministers have intervened to allow the organisation to continue. The funding will run until the end of March 2009.
Govan Law Centre will provide training and mentoring in ASN legislation and procedure to existing advocacy groups and make recommendations as to how to best address the need for representative advocacy at ASNTS across Scotland.