All children have the right to extra help with their learning and for their views to be considered when decisions are being made about their support.
Recent changes to education law saw the rights of children with additional support needs aged 12 – 15 extended to give them many of the same rights as their parents and carers and young people over 16. (This does not mean that parents and carers do not have rights after their child turns 12 but that the child can act on their own behalf if they want to.)
Once a child reaches their 12th birthday they have the right to:
- ask their school to find out if they need extra support
- have a say in plans and decisions made about the support they get
- have an advocate with them at meetings to help them share their views and understand what’s going on
- question plans made for them or make an appeal to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal if they are not happy with what certain plans say
- get help to sort out any disagreements about their support.
A new children’s service – My Rights, My Say – has been set up to help children use their rights.
My Rights, My Say is a partnership between Children in Scotland, Enquire, Partners in Advocacy and Cairn Legal. The service can support children to find out about and take up their new rights through advice and information, advocacy and legal representation.
If a child needs help to use their rights or feels their school are not listened to them, My Rights, My Say advocacy workers can help a child share their views with their school. They can help them work out what they want to say, attend meetings with them and if they don’t feel able to speak themselves, speak on their behalf.
They can make sure a child’s rights are looked after and that their views and wishes are fully listened to when decisions are being made. They can also support them if they decide to appeal against a decision the school or local authority has made.
Having an advocate can be really helpful. Here’s some feedback about how Partners in Advocacy workers have helped children have a say in decisions that affected them.
“The teachers were listening. It’s much better now. I feel better. I can speak in meetings.”
“I felt like you being there and supporting me definitely made them listen.”
“I can’t praise the work you do with my son enough and it was lovely to hear his voice and opinions today.”
“Thank you so much for everything you are doing for my son. I know that you are making a huge difference to him with this whole situation.”
My Rights, My Say also provides independent support to make sure children’s views are heard in formal processes (such as assessments) and can provide support to professionals to enhance their practice in listening to children’s views.
If your child is aged 12 -15 and wants to use their rights to be more involved in decisions about their support they can get in touch with My Rights, My Say at www.reach.scot/myrightsmysay
If you want to know more about your child’s rights or make a referral visit www.enquire.org.uk/myrightsmysay