Additional Support for Learning: Supporting all students


The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning advises ministers on the implementation of legislation and policy. Nasen’s Jane Friswell updates us on its work and outlines some key priorities for the year ahead.

The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning continues to play a key role in maintaining the focus on the needs of children and young people by advising and supporting the development of national policy.

Building on their valued contribution last year, the Advisory Group will consider how we ensure a continued improvement in the way we collect additional support needs statistics and will also continue to work on reviewing the Code of Practice for Additional Support for Learning, taking into account of the provisions contained within the Children and Young People Bill.

A range of educators and education experts will help inform Scotland’s Code of Practice, consulting with professionals and experts to ensure legislation reflects the realities of daily support.

As a charity that aggregates the views of education professionals to policy-makers, nasen helps to provide a structure to meet the individual needs of all children and young people throughout the UK. 

In Scotland, the Scottish Learning Festival in September will no doubt see an examination of key statutory requirements for settings, schools and colleges in the additional educational needs of children and young people. Nasen’s presence at the festival comes at the start of a period of discussion that will help to aggregate the views of the education sector to help shape legislation.

In 2013, around 19.5 per cent of all pupils were identified as having an additional support need. This is a 1.5 per cent point increase on last year.  Additional support needs encompasses students that:

  • Have motor or sensory impairments.

  • Are being bullied.

  • Are particularly able or talented.

  • Have experienced a bereavement.

  • Are interrupted learners.

  • Have a learning disability.

  • Are looked-after by a local authority.

  • Have a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia.

  • Are living with parents who are abusing substances.

  • Are living with parents with mental health problems.

  • Have English as an additional language.

  • Are not attending school regularly.

  • Have emotional or social difficulties.

  • Are on the child protection register.

  • Are young carers.

Education authorities and schools identify most children and young people with additional support needs through their arrangements for assessing learning and for monitoring the educational progress of children and young people. Assessment identifies the actions required to maximise development and learning and is a dynamic process with the child or young person at the centre.

Implementation of additional support for learning indicates that in most schools in Scotland the needs of most children and young people are being met well, with some major strengths. However, the inaugural report to Parliament suggested that there remained scope for improvement on transition planning for young people with additional support needs.

The Scottish government’s published plan to support implementation 2012 to 2016 links directly with key priorities for nasen. Building capacity in staff where every teacher is a teacher of every child through the implementation of effective whole-school approaches to identifying and meeting additional support needs is the focus.

Nasen will develop a specific programme of support for Scottish schools, with a series of training events that will offer practical support at classroom level for pupils with additional support needs.

As education policy across the UK has developed separately, the need for a fully devolved approach to supporting Scottish education providers has become very clear. Essentially, what we are aiming to do is to develop a programme of front-line support and guidance, backed up by informal collaborations between schools to help promote best practice and share ideas.

Scotland’s Code of Practice emphasises the importance of a holistic approach to additional support needs but the varying degrees to which local authorities are set up to help their schools, especially with reduced budgets and, in many cases, shrinking staff numbers, makes child-centric support a challenge in some cases.

Working with educators in Scotland will help nasen to develop an accurate picture of what professionals need, in addition to the assistance they receive at a local level. 

In many cases, the regionalisation of support emphasises the need for additional CPD and legislative guidance. Having a support network for these schools is something that our work with Education Scotland will be geared towards.

One of the ways in which schools can access existing support is via the SEND Gateway, an online platform for resources and guidance to support children with additional educational needs. 

The Gateway will be further developed to support and reflect policy in Scotland, bringing together advice from leading voluntary organisations. It is this collaborative approach that is key. 

There are excellent organisations out there that offer schools free advice, and many schools whose practice represents the best approach to meeting the needs of students. Our aim is to ensure that all schools have access not just to quality first training, but to a range of highly targeted support materials that offer teachers and schools the guidance they need.

  • Jane Friswell is chief executive of nasen, a national professional association for children and young people with additional support needs. Visit

Further information
  • For the latest legislation and current Code of Practice in relation to additional support for learning, visit
  • Jane Friswell will speak at the Scottish Learning Festival next month when she will discuss the latest policy reforms, CPD and resources. For details, visit


Meeting additional support needs (Education Scotland)

Stage 1 Identifying: Parents/teachers/health or social services staff/other agencies identify young person needing support or planning which can be met within the existing school setting.

Stage 1 Supporting: Internal support/Single Agency Plan. Support/planning put in place from within school resources but including monitoring and review of effectiveness by school and parents. A named individual from within the school co-ordinates the overall approach. An Individualised Educational Programme (IEP) may be needed.

Stage 2 Identifying: Situation not resolved and need for further action identified. Advice and support sought from specialists out with the school or centre but from within educational services. My World Triangle ( used as an assessment framework with specialist assessments provided as necessary.

Stage 2 Supporting: External support from within education Single Agency Plan. Support/planning put in place from outside the school including monitoring and review of effectiveness by multi-agency team as required (such as support from visiting teacher or educational psychologist). A named individual is responsible for co-ordinating the overall approach. IEP in place.

Stage 3 Identifying: Situation not resolved and need for further action identified. Advice and support sought from specialists from agencies outside education. Further multi-agency assessments using the My World Triangle used as an assessment framework.

Stage 3 Supporting: External multi-agency support. Support/planning put in place using support from health, social work services, voluntary agencies etc, as required. Arrangements put in place for monitoring and review, involving parents and all relevant professionals as required. A lead professional is responsible for co-ordinating the overall approach. Co-ordinated support plan considered.


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