Children’s rights

Understanding children’s rights to have a say about their support at school.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights of all children. Two of these rights are:

  • the right to an education (Article 28).
  • the right to be involved in decisions that impact on them and have their views taken seriously (Article 12).

In Scotland, every child has the right to additional support for learning to help them get the most out of school.

Children aged 12 – 15 with additional support needs have even more rights to ensure they are involved decisions about their support. My Rights, My Say supports children and adults to make these rights a reality.

Get Help

We can help you with advice and information.

My Rights, My Say is free, confidential, easy to use, and supports children to speak up about what they need. Find out more about how we can help in our sections on Support for children and Support for practitioners.

Children with additional support needs aged 12 – 15 have the right to:

– be involved in decisions about their support
– receive advocacy support to help them share their views
– find out if they have additional support needs
– ask for an assessment
– find out if they need a Co-ordinated Support Plan
– ask for their Co-ordinated Support Plan to be reviewed
– ask for independent adjudication
– make a reference to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal
– ask for their views to be listened to during independent mediation
– receive information about their additional support needs
– receive a copy of their Co-ordinated Support Plan
– be told if decisions are made about their rights
– be asked if they are happy for information to be shared when they are leaving school.

Children’s rights leaflet
A child-friendly guide to co-ordinated support plans
A child-friendly guide to assessment

Not always. Before a child can use their rights their local authority must check that it is OK for them to do so.

A teacher or another adult who knows the child will check that a child understands what they are asking for. They will also check that the child would understand what any decisions made would mean. This is called a ‘capacity assessment’.

The member of staff will also check that using their rights will not do the child any harm e.g. make them really upset or negatively impact on their metal health. This is called an “impact on well-being assessment”.

The adult will check that if the child uses their rights they will be:

– Safe
– Healthy
– Achieving
– Nurtured
– Active
– Respected
– Responsible
– Included

Once the capacity and impact on well-being assessment have has been carried out, the local authority may decide that the child cannot use their rights.

A child or their parent can challenge the local authority’s decision if they disagree with it by making a reference to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal. Find out more about doing this on the Solving problems page of this website (see link below).

These assessments have to happen every time a child wants to use one of their rights. A child might be able to use some of their rights, but not others depending on the results of each capacity and impact on well-being assessment.

My Rights, My Say advocacy workers can support a child throughout the capacity and well-being assessment. Find out more using Support for children the link below.

Support for children
Solving problems

Some children may want to use their rights themselves while others will be happy for their parent or carer to continue to act on their behalf.

Children’s rights do not replace parents’ and carers’ rights to be involved in decisions about their child’s support or any of their other rights under Additional Support for Learning legislation. Parents and carers will still be important partners in decisions about support for their child.

It is not expected that a parent or carer and their child will try to use a particular right at the same time. It is also not expected that a parent, carer or child would use their right to overturn a decision made previously by a school or local authority. For example, if a child asks for an assessment and this is refused parents cannot then use their rights to ask for an assessment to overturn this decision.

Enquire’s factsheet for parents – Children’s rights to education and additional support in school
Enquire’s factsheet for practitioners – Children’s rights to education and additional support in school

Enquire is the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning and a partner in My Rights, My Say. They have lots of advice and information to help parents, carers and practitioners understand additional support for learning. Visit their website using the link below or contact their helpline on 0345 123 2303

Enquire has a website for children and young people called Reach. It has lots of practical advice, tips, short films and ideas for people who might be able to help children get the support they need. Reach also real life stories from children and young about how issues in their lives affect them at school.

Enquire – helping you understand additional support for learning
Reach – helping you understand children’s rights to be supported and involved in decisions so they have an equal chance to flourish in their education
Contact My Rights, My Say