University of Edinburgh

VIScotland Parent Guide to Mainstream Visual Impairment Education

The Record of Needs and the Coordinated Support Plan

The Record of Needs is currently the most important strategic support plan available to parents in Scotland. It is a formal, legally-binding document produced following a full assessment of your child's individual needs. It is a regularly reviewed plan, which considers what additional support and resources should be put in place to assist your child at school.

Not all children who are assessed will actually have a Record opened. This may be because either the child does not require one as their needs are not severe enough; or the local authority believes that enough support can be provided without this legal document being produced. The majority of children with special educational needs do not have a Record of Need, but there are some advantages in getting one.

  1. Your child's needs and the level of support to be provided by the local authority, are clearly stated, in writing.
  2. You can be involved in the assessment and planning process; with a coordinated plan being developed to meet your child's individual needs.
  3. You can call for a Review or appeal against assessment and planning decisions about your child.

The Record of Needs process may be started at the suggestion of a Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or the parent and is coordinated by an Educational Psychologist. If you require more information about the Record of Needs process in your area, please contact your local Education department.

The Coordinated Support Plan

From October 2003, the Scottish Parliament will be discussing the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Bill. One of its main aims is to replace the existing Record of Needs with a Coordinated Support Plan.

NB: The existing Record of Needs will not be removed immediately. This will be done gradually over the next few years at Reviews and Future Needs Assessments.

Therefore, if you believe your child requires a Record of Needs now, then please see your local education authority. Please bear in mind that they are not duty bound to open one but are duty bound to implement it.

A Coordinated Support Plan would be provided for children with complex educational needs which require continuing review. A Plan would normally only be provided where a mainstream school or nursery cannot provide for the child from within its existing or easily obtainable resources. A Plan should consider play, recreation, and social development as well as education.

Remember: When the new system is implemented existing Records will be replaced by the new Plan at the review date. Until then the existing arrangements for opening and reviewing Records will continue.

So what is different?

The Coordinated Support Plan would be more flexible and responsive than the current Record of Needs. It would still have legal status. It would be a strategic, long term addition to the other planning documents and should complement them. The Plan would be a framework of provision which could include the various strategies that will ensure your child's educational experience is a positive one. It may for example include your child's Individualised Educational Programme (IEP); and/or state in writing what resources and support will be implemented to overcome the special educational needs caused by your child's visual impairment. The Plan should include as much detail as possible about the provision. It should not be focused on your child's deficiencies and weaknesses.

Psychological and health assessments would not be compulsory but carried out when appropriate or when requested by you. As long as the young person or the parent agrees, the Plan and other reports should automatically be shown to all professionals involved with your child. Relevant reports and the IEP would be attached to the Plan. The education authority would ensure that parents and young people are provided with one named person contact who could advise on all aspects of additional support needs. All parents would have the right to be accompanied at meetings by a person acting as an advocate.

Education authorities should have in place arrangements for mediation involving independent mediators to resolve disputes. Young people and parents will have the right to appeal against any part of the Plan. An independent expert Tribunal will hear appeals. The Tribunal will be open, accessible and user-friendly.

These changes should lead to a much tighter level of support for visually impaired children throughout Scotland. With the proposed increase in parental and child involvement in future planning and provision, the opportunity for closer partnership between home and school increases considerably.