This legislation involved a move from the term 'Special Educational Needs' to the much wider, and more encompassing term, 'additional support needs'.
It has been implemented from late 2005, with an anticipated phasing-in period in most education authorities of two years to enable a smooth changeover from previous arrangements.
This principle of 'additional support' is particularly helpful for children who stammer as there is now statutory provision to help them to benefit from the education provided.
Previously, some may have slipped through the net as they probably did not have a 'Record of Needs' unless the stammer was part of more complex needs, and resources may have been limited. Now when the stammer is part of more complex needs a pupil may be assessed for a 'Co-ordinated Support Plan', professionals and parents contribute to this and an appropriate school placement would be offered.
An 'additional support need' can arise from any factor that causes a barrier to learning. Children and young people may need this 'additional support' to assist them with their communication, reading or writing; to improve their access to the school and its facilities; or to support their learning through difficult family or other circumstances such as a period of prolonged bullying.
The 'additional support' may be offered on a short term or long term basis according to need and children who stammer should receive the support that they need through this mechanism.
There may be concern about identification and resourcing at local level, but the flexibility that 'additional support' offers is very helpful for children who stammer as their needs can change.
In many schools good practice already meets the new requirements but the Act rolls that out throughout Scotland. Training programmes for education staff, other professionals and parents have been provided to ensure complete dissemination and understanding of the principles of the legislation.
Rather than guidance, a Code of Practice has been developed in collaboration with service users and providers. This sets minimum standards and places new duties on education authorities and others. It aims to promote more and better joint -planning and partnership working among agencies, and consistency across Scotland.
Parents may ask the education authority to assess their child for additional support needs and request a particular type of assessment for their child. They may access mediation services and a dispute resolution service, when they disagree with the help being given to their child.
The implementation of 'additional support throughout Scotland has now been reviewed and the provision for parents and young people to access it and if necessary seek mediation has been strengthened as it did appear to be rather more complex initially than was helpful.
HMI found that in most primary schools pupils reported that there is a key teacher among the staff who knows him well as an individual and provides support. HMI's believe that with the roll-out of the Integrated Community Schools and the opportunities afforded by the teachers' agreement, Scottish schools are in a very good position to deliver personal care and support for all pupils.
This 'additional support' provision is welcomed as many parents report that it is sometimes difficult to access support for their children as a result of differential resource provision for children who stammer and do not require a 'Record of Needs'.
In some areas the school and a speech and language therapist had already provided support. In these cases of current good practice the child is also likely to be supported by an Individual Education Plan.
The new Act is ensuring better consistency of provision across Scotland for all children who stammer and as it is under regular review parents may easily express concerns. HMI findings endorse the BSA advice that children who stammer need access to a member of staff who understands their needs.
These developments should offer more support to children who stammer.
The Scottish Advice Service for Additional Support for Learning
Tel: 0845 123 2303