Legislation & Policy

What support and protection does legislation provide for children and adults with learning difficulties? Here is the Salvesen Mindroom Centre's simple guide to the legislation and policy that exists in the UK (particularly Scotland).

Please also take a look at our  Essential rights guide .

Education (Additional Support for Learning)(Scotland) Act 2004

This relates to children and young people living in Scotland.

This piece of legislation states that any child who needs more or different support to what is normally provided in schools or pre-schools is said to have ‘additional support needs’.
‘The Act aims to ensure that all children and young people are provided with the necessary support to help them work towards achieving their fullest potential. It also promotes collaborative working among all those supporting children and young people and sets out parents’ rights within the system.’ (Supporting children’s learning code of practice 2010)

For more information relating to the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004, visit Enquire.

Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC)

This relates to children and young people living in Scotland.

GIRFEC aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people by putting children and their families at the heart of decision making.

The GIRFEC method supports three initiatives to help children’s well-being and learning – Equally Well, The Early Years Framework and Achieving our Potential.  It provides for the selection of a ‘named person’ for every child, encourages professionals to make judgements based on a shared understanding of wellbeing, and supports appropriate early intervention and the sharing of information and cooperation across agencies.

GIRFEC’s approach should be reflected in all Government policy documents and initiatives affecting children and young people.

For more information about GIRFEC, visit the Scottish Government website.

Every Child Matters

This relates to children and young people living in England.

Similarly to GIRFEC, this piece of policy aims to improve outcomes for children and young people.  These outcomes are based around being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and economic well being.

For more information about Every Child Matters, visit the Department for Education website.

Curriculum for Excellence

This relates to children and young people living in Scotland.

Children must each be helped to achieve the best they can according to the eight indicators of the well-being wheel contained in the GIRFEC Practice Model.  A child's well-being and other outcomes can be assessed against the eight indicators in this wheel: safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included, which are called the SHANARRI principles. This will in turn ensure that all children and young people achieve their potential and become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens, which is the aim of the Curriculum for Excellence.

For more information about the Curriculum for Excellence, visit Education Scotland, Transforming lives through learning.

Equality Act 2010 (Disability Discrimination)

This is a national piece of legislation, relating to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The Equality Act brings together over 116 separate pieces of legislation into one single Act. Combined, they make up a new Act that provides a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all.

The Act simplifies, strengthens and harmonises the current legislation to provide Britain with a new discrimination law which protects individuals from unfair treatment and promotes a fair and more equal society.

For more information about the Equality Act, visit Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 12)

Young people have the right to say what they think should happen when adults are making decisions that affect them, and to have their opinions taken into account.

For more information about Article 12, visit the Scotland’s Commissioner for Children and Young People’s website.

For more information, please see the Scottish Governments 10 minute training tool, Introducing Children’s Rights

Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 Guardianship and Intervention Orders

Guardianship and intervention orders provide legal authority for someone to make decisions and act on behalf of a person with impaired capacity, in order to safeguard and promote their interests. The powers granted under an order may relate to the person's money, property, personal welfare and health.

The application, which must be accompanied by certain reports is made to the sheriff court. The sheriff decides if the adult needs a guardian and if the person who wishes to be the guardian is suitable. Once granted, the order is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) and can then be put into operation.

An application for guardianship must specify the 'powers' that you want as these, if approved by the sheriff, will be stated on the guardianship order. The term 'power' is used to describe the area or areas of decision-making for which you need authority. The Act allows wide flexibility, to enable 'powers' requested to be tailored to meet the needs of the adult. Only powers that are needed now and in the foreseeable future should be requested. An application for an order may be for financial powers, welfare powers or for both.

You may wish to engage a solicitor to carry out the necessary legal steps. This is particularly advisable if your application is for powers that are quite complex, or where your application is likely to give rise to objections. You may be eligible to receive initial help from a solicitor using the type of legal aid known as Advice and Assistance.  If you then wish to seek an order from the court, you may be eligible for civil legal aid. Your solicitor can help you apply to the Scottish Legal Aid Board ( SLAB) for civil legal aid.  SLAB has a list of solicitors' firms which are registered to provide civil legal assistance.

A guide has been published for carers who are concerned that the person they care for is unable to take action or make some or all decisions in relation to their finances, personal welfare or health, due to a mental disability or severe communications difficulties, such as a stroke.

Please also see the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland).