This blog post is written by my father. He has received several requests for access to a summary that he created for me, to help me advocate for my daughter, so asked if I could publish it here to make it more accessible. We hope that it helps anyone else in Scotland who is trying to gain a deeper understanding of the rights for their children.
Summary of the rights of children and the duties of the Local Authority under the “Supporting Children’s Learning: Statutory Guidance on the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act 2004 (as amended) Code of Practice (3rd Edition) 2017
In March 2017 our beautiful 3 year old (at the time) granddaughter was diagnosed with ASD. We had little understanding of Autism at that time. What was clear, however, was that she would need additional support from us, health professionals and (given she was due to start nursery later that year), the education system.
What was less clear back then was that getting the right support would become a daily battle. As our daughter researched the support that was available it soon became apparent that it was far harder than it should be. Poor, incomplete and misleading information and a lack of clarity about who was accountable for what, were commonplace.
As our daughter said one day, about a year after first her daughter’s diagnosis… “It seems as though everywhere I turn, I just get the door slammed in my face, but I’m used to it now!”.
That was the turning point for me. Seeing the impact that this daily battle was having on our daughter was heartbreaking. Not only was she looking after her two daughters, she was trying to build her own business, mainly in the evenings, once the girls were in bed. Finding the time and energy to research a 180 page Act which sets out the rights of children and the duties of local authorities in respect of children with additional support needs was huge ask.
It was clear to me that the ‘system’ was flawed, if parents had to battle in this way with no support. I decided to read the Act and try to summarise those 180 pages (in less than a dozen) so that she could better understand her and her daughter’s rights and the duties and obligations of the local authority.
As I did so, it became clear to me that she had been badly let down by the system (and some individuals) and that to advocate effectively for our granddaughter, she would need to fully understand their rights and the duties of the local authority.
We agreed that we wanted to share this document freely in the hope that it might help other parents of children with special needs, particularly those with an Autism diagnosis, to advocate for their children more effectively by understanding their rights and the obligations of the agencies with which they come into contact.
We hope you find it helpful. Your feedback on it is welcomed.
Purpose of the document
The document is intended to summarise the rights of children (and their parents) and the duties and obligations placed on local authorities across Scotland for providing support to children with additional support needs so that they can achieve their full potential and benefit fully from school education. It looks at these rights and duties specifically with Autism in mind, though it may also help parents of children with additional needs related to other conditions and disabilities.
We are not a legal, autism or education experts. I am just “Gaga”, a grandad who wants to do anything he can to ensure his granddaughter has the best possible chance of developing into an independent adult and reaching her full potential, and my daughter is a loving, caring mum who’s doing an amazing job of bringing up her girls, in an environment which is making that harder than it should be.
As such, this document cannot guarantee that you will be successful in getting all (or any) of the support you think your child needs. All I set out to do in creating this summary, was explain my interpretation of this document to make it more accessible and understanding in order to help my daughter advocate effectively for hers.
In doing so, it occurred to us that it may help other parents in a similar situation, who also don’t have the time or energy to read and try to understand and interpret a 180 page document written in such a formal way.
We hope it helps in some small way.
Much of the act is open to interpretation. I have occasionally given my personal view or interpretation (the bits in italics) of what I think some of the provisions or data means, but again, these are simply my personal opinions and should not be relied upon or seen as ‘advice’.
Furthermore, the Act/Guidance related purely to Scotland. The rules and terminology elsewhere in the UK are different.
Good luck in your efforts to get the support your child needs.
If you do want to read the full 180 page Statutory Guidance, here’s the link