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Education Secretary pledges review of support plans for additional needs pupils

John Swinney announced the commitment during an education debate at Holyrood in response to concerns.

A review will be held of coordinated support plans (Ben Birchall/PA)
A review will be held of coordinated support plans (Ben Birchall/PA)

A review of support plans for pupils with additional needs has been announced.

Education Secretary John Swinney made the commitment during a Liberal Democrat-led education debate at Holyrood.

Coordinated Support Plans (CSP) are statutory plans for young people with complex additional support needs who need significant educational help as well as further assistance from other agencies.

The plans enable parents or guardians to take legal action if their child does not receive the help to which they are entitled.

The Scottish Greens said it was concerned that the number of these plans has fallen since 2010 while the number of pupils with additional support needs has risen dramatically.

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Education Secretary John Swinney announced the review (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA)

Mr Swinney told MSPs: “The Government is prepared to undertake a review of coordinated support plans.

“We will consider how to strengthen the guidance and other support available to local authorities on coordinated support plans and will develop this work in partnership with stakeholders to ensure that in every respect we are meeting the needs of every pupil within our country.”

Ross Greer, for the Greens, said: “While the number of pupils identified with an additional need has increased to almost 200,000, the number of CSPs has dropped to just under 2,000 today — that’s 1% of young people with identified additional needs having a Coordinated Support Plan.”

He said councils are “not fully understanding what is required of them” when it comes to CSPs for children with additional support needs.

The MSP welcomed the Government’s commitment to review the use of the plans, and called for it to “immediately follow that with action to rectify the problem”.

He added: “We’re not short of testimonials from young people and parents who have gone through experiences nothing short of traumatic but for who the lack of a CSP have had little opportunity for recourse.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition said: “It is clear from the figures that despite a Scottish Government assurance that there would be no reduction in the proportion of pupils with CSPs this is set to virtually disappear.

“CSPs are an essential means of ensuring the children’s rights are realised but official statistics suggest that the number and proportion of children identified as having ASN has rapidly increased, but CSPs appear to be in terminal decline.

“In England, by way of contrast, the use of education, health and care plans (EHCPs, the CSP equivalent) has increased, and now just under 3% of the school population has an EHCP.

“Failure to provide an adequate CSP could amount to a failure to make reasonable adjustments in respect of a child’s education, which amounts to discrimination on the grounds of disability.

“The review of CSPs by the Scottish Government is therefore to be welcomed, ensuring that those children and young people with complex needs are receiving the care and support that they are entitled to.”

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