Additional support for learning

Additional support needs arise when a child needs more, or different, support from what is normally provided in schools or nurseries for children of the same age.

What are additional support needs?

Children and young people who need extra or different help than other children or young people their age, to help them access and make progress in their learning are considered to have ‘additional support needs’. They may only need support for a short time, or they may need support the whole time they are in education. Their needs may also change over time. A child or young person does not need to have a diagnosed condition to have additional support needs. If your child is struggling at school or nursery and needing extra help for any reason, they have a right to receive the help they need.

A child or young person may have additional support needs for a range of reasons. The following are some examples:

  • find aspects of learning difficult.
  • learning environment or approaches need adapted.
  • have a specific learning difficulty.
  • experience difficulties with aspects of language and/or communication.
  • experience emotional distress.
  • Relationships with others are a challenge.
  • an identified disability which affects them physically and/or cognitively.
  • a significant caring role for a family member.
  • currently, or previously, care experienced (Looked After by the Local Authority).
  • long-term illness

Enquire is the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning and the service provides easy to understand advice and information about additional support for learning legislation and guidance for families and professionals.

What additional support is available?

All children and young people will regularly be involved in learning conversations to review their progress and agree the next steps. These conversations will be with key staff who know the child or young person well. Parents and carers will also be involved in discussions where there are concerns and/or specific support required.

Children and young people with additional support needs can access a range of support and strategies to best meet their individual needs from their local early years or school setting, which may include an additional level of input from specific staff to support them such as a support for learning teacher.

In some instances it may be agreed that additional support from more specialist services will be appropriate. The education service has specialist support services that offer a range of supports for children and young people, and the staff who work with them. It may also be considered appropriate to seek additional support from other services (e.g. NHS teams, Social Work Service, 3rd Sector services) depending on the needs of the child or young person and their family.

A small number of children and young people with more complex additional support needs may require a higher level of support provided by a local specialist provision or special school.

Assessing your child's needs

Assessment is an ongoing process that aims to ensure the right help is available at the right time, to help children and young people reach their fullest potential. It includes gathering a range of information to understand their talents, skills and personality, circumstances and learning styles.

It can involve reviewing a child or young person’s work, observing them in a range of learning situations, seeking their views, consulting with staff who know them well, and their parents or carers too.

A range of additional professionals may support the assessment including specialist school staff, specialist support services, and colleagues from other services as noted above.

If you are concerned about your child’s learning or development, please contact their early years setting or school. Parents and carers are entitled to ask for an assessment of their child’s additional support needs to be carried out and further information on this can be found at Enquire.

Planning support

Assessment information should always inform the support that is needed. In Stirling we use a Staged Intervention process to identify the level of support each individual child or young person needs. Children and young people should always be central to assessment and planning processes, and we have guidance about how to do that effectively - Involving children / young people in staged intervention

Child’s Plan

A Child’s Plan is a document which should record a child's or young person’s identified additional support needs, outline the supports that will be put in place to meet those needs, specify who is responsible for providing the support, and outline a timeframe in which the effectiveness of the support will be reviewed. Our staged intervention guidance outlines the process through which a Child’s Plan can be requested and implemented.

Co-ordinated Support Plan

A Co-ordinated Support Plan (CSP) is a legal document to co-ordinate the support that a child or young person receives from different services, such as education, social work and health. It sets out who provides the support, how often and for how long.

Most children and young people will have their needs met through other forms of planning. However, parents and carers, and young people aged 12 years+, can request that they be considered for whether they meet the criteria for a CSP.  Co-ordinated support plans (CSPs) - Enquire

Getting independent advice

If you want independent advice about additional support for your child, there are national organisations who offer this.


This Scottish advice service provides help, information and resources about additional support for learning legislation.

Visit the Enquire website for parents, carers and professionals

Visit the Enquire website for children and young people

My Rights, My Say

This service provides advice and information, advocacy support, legal representation and service to seek children's views independently about their support.

Visit the My Rights, My Say website


Mediation support services are available to families with children who have additional learning needs. Good communication among parents and carers, school and Stirling Council Education Services is the key to positive relationships and partnerships.

The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 includes a requirement for education authorities to have in place arrangements for mediation, involving independent mediators, to aim to resolve disputes between parents and carers and the authority and/or school, regarding a child or young person who has additional support needs. 

Stirling Council’s independent mediation provider is Resolve Mediation Service. You can find out more about the service and mediation here

Let's Talk

This national advocacy service is funded by the Scottish Government. It is for parents of children with additional support needs who need support in relation to a dispute or potential dispute with an education authority.

Let’s Talk website

The right to appeal

Information on the right to appeal decisions of education authorities regarding the provision of educational support under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 can be found at Additional Support Needs | First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Health and Education Chamber). Children between the ages of 12 and 15 years who have capacity to make a reference can also make 2 types of reference:

  • A reference in relation to a co-ordinated support plan (CSP).

A reference appealing against the education authority’s assessment of the child’s capacity or wellbeing.