Education (Children with Additional Support Needs)

Education and Young People, Tourism, Culture and Sport – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative 2:15 pm, 8th March 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what consideration it has given to the implications of recent court and tribunal decisions for the education of children with additional support needs. (S2O-12262)

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

Court and tribunal decisions are taken according to the individual circumstances. General issues will be considered as and when appropriate.

Photo of David McLetchie David McLetchie Conservative

Is the minister aware that 39 per cent of placing requests for grant-aided or independent special schools are refused by local authorities, and that the additional support needs tribunal has not once upheld an appeal relating to a placing request made by a parent? He is aware that when the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 was passed, fears were expressed that special schools would lose out and cost considerations would take precedence over the educational needs of children. In the light of decisions to date, will the minister review the operation of the 2004 act as it impacts on such schools?

Photo of Robert Brown Robert Brown Liberal Democrat

We said from the outset that we would keep the 2004 act under review. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education will conclude its inspection of the act's operation later this year and we will review the matter in that context. To support implementation of the 2004 act and to help inform practice, we have set up a national advisory group, which might well be able to consider not just matters to do with the tribunal but broader issues.

The 2004 act came into force relatively recently and a reasonably small number of references have been made to the tribunal—I think that there have been around 42 references and 20-odd decisions. We must move forward a little so that we can gain perspective and consider the wider issues that emerge from judgments. From April, we intend to publish anonymised decisions on the additional support needs tribunals for Scotland website, which will give coherence to the consideration of the decision-making process.