Additional support needs and approaches to dispute resolution: the perspectives of Scottish parents

Elisabet Weedon, Sheila Riddell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper draws on data from an ESRC funded project (RES-062-23-0803) which explores the use of dispute resolution mechanisms in the field of special educational needs in England and additional support needs in Scotland. Here, we present findings from a survey of Scottish parents’ perspectives on the management of disagreements about additional support needs (ASN) in the wake of the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (the ASL Act). One of the aims of the ASL Act was to increase parental rights in relation to the education of children with additional support needs. Amongst other measures, the new legislation puts in place a range of mechanisms, specifically formal mediation, adjudication and the Additional Support Needs Tribunal, to facilitate the resolution of disputes between the parent and the school or local authority. Evidence from the survey suggests that, although a significant minority of parents are highly dissatisfied with local authority provision, only a minority have used the new formal dispute resolution procedures. Parents were generally dissatisfied with negotiation at school level as a way of resolving disputes, but also had reservations about the new ways of resolving disagreements, particularly mediation. The implications of these findings are discussed, including the possibility that, over time, parents may be able to use the dispute resolution procedures to improve provision generally, rather than as a means of maximising their individual share of educational resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-81
Number of pages20
JournalScottish Educational Review
Volume41
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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