School Placement Decisions (Appeals)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 12th January 2023.

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Photo of Rona Mackay Rona Mackay Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on whether parents should have the right to appeal on school placement decisions. (S6O-01758)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, decisions on school placements are the responsibility of the local authority. The views of parents should be taken into account.

Parents should also be informed of the options that are available to them to appeal those decisions. If an agreement cannot be reached, parents and carers have the right to make a placing request to a school of their choice. If a placing request is refused, parents have a right to appeal.

Photo of Rona Mackay Rona Mackay Scottish National Party

I am trying to help a constituent who has been told that her son, who is flourishing in a mainstream primary school, must go to an additional support needs school next year instead of to a mainstream secondary school with his friends and peer group. Will the cabinet secretary set out what right to appeal parents, carers and pupils have in a situation like that?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Under the Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc Act 2000, local authorities have a duty to provide education in a mainstream school unless specific exemptions apply. Authorities are supported in those decisions by our guidance on the presumption of mainstream education.

I set out the routes to appeal in my initial answer. I would urge the member’s constituent to engage with the school and local authority to resolve their concerns. The constituent might also wish to contact Enquire, which is an advice service, to discuss the details of their situation.

If my original answer is not detailed enough to allow Ms Mackay to help her constituent, I would be happy to receive further details from her in writing, so that I can see whether there is additional information that I can give her on the right to appeal in the very specific circumstances of her constituent’s case.

Photo of Meghan Gallacher Meghan Gallacher Conservative

In 2022, there were more than 350 fewer primary school teachers than there were in 2021, and there were fewer teachers from the teacher induction scheme teaching in their post-probation year than at any time since the scheme began.

Key to restoring our education system to its world-class status is reducing class sizes. Why is the Government cutting teacher numbers when school pupils have faced so much disruption over the past three years?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Forgive me, but I am not seeing the relevance of that to the original question; however, I am more than happy to answer.

The Deputy Presiding Officer:

I would certainly agree, cabinet secretary. Keep your response brief, on that basis.

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

Certainly. Recruitment and retention of staff is, of course, a matter for local authorities. The Government has a commitment to ensure that we have 3,500 additional teachers by the end of this parliamentary session. Part of that process has been the provision of further funding of £145 million, which has been baselined to local government, to support the teaching workforce.