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ADD/ADHD Information - Scotland

Early Years Education

In Scotland, all children are entitled to a free, part-time, pre-school (nursery) place from the age of three years, beginning in the school term following the child's third birthday. This fact sheet provides practical advice and information on the types of services available and includes details of any extra help and support you can expect to receive if your child requires additional support for learning.


Your local education authority has a legal duty to ensure that every three and four-year-old child has access to free, part-time pre-school education. Your child can access their place from the school term following their third birthday (some places may offer a place from the date of the third birthday so it is worth checking).This entitlement applies only at registered local authority or partnership nurseries. Your child is entitled to 412.5 hours of education per year and this normally works out at five sessions of between 2.25 and 2.5 hours per week during school terms.

Responsibility of education authority

By law your local education authority must assess any child who appears to need extra help accessing school or pre-school education from the age of two. (You can ask for an assessment before this if you want). Your child may already be known to the education authority through links with your health visitor or GP. However, if you think your child has additional support needs and has not been assessed, speak to your health visitor or family doctor who can ask the local authority to carry out an assessment. You can request an assessment yourself by contacting your local education authority. Every local authority is different so you should ask for the early years, pupil support or support for learning department. If your child is already attending a nursery, staff there can also make a request on your behalf. If your child currently requires additional support, they may have a Record of Needs (RON) or an Individualised Educational Programme (IEP).These will, amongst other things, set out learning targets for your child and identify the support they need to achieve them. Your child may be referred to a Pre-school Community Assessment Team (PRESCAT) which will coordinate the various agencies involved in assessing and providing services (eg social work, health and education).

Pre-school options

Pre-school education can be provided in:

1. A nursery school or class run by the local authority and usually held in a mainstream primary school or local authority property;
2. A private nursery run by an individual or company providing pre-school education and childcare usually for working parents;
3. A partnership nursery which is a private nursery (as above) providing pre-school education on behalf of the local authority;
4. A child and family centre usually run by the Social Work Department and providing support to families in need;
5. A children's centre run by the local authority to provide services to assist with children's health and development;
6. A local playgroup run by a voluntary or local community group providing play and education;
7. A nursery class held within a special school providing specialist services to children with additional support needs;
8. A registered childminder in receipt of an educational grant.

Children with complex needs

For children with complex needs, pre-school education can be provided by a Pre-school Home Visiting Teaching Service. (These services vary from area to area and may not be available in all parts of the country.) Teachers with experience in early childhood development will visit your child at home and help them learn and develop before they go to school whilst also providing advice and support. Additionally, they can help to find a preschool placement and liaise with the provider to ensure the right support for your child is in place.


Local authorities should take account of your preferred choice of nursery school or class. However not all the support services required for your child may be available in the facility you have chosen, and the local authority is not required to provide this unless your child has a RON and the support is detailed in this. If your child currently has a RON you can make a placing request to a particular nursery. If your child is not recorded then you cannot make a placing request.

Deferred Entry

If a child's birthday falls between September and February (meaning they would start primary school aged four) you may want them to stay at nursery an extra year (until they are five).A request for additional funding can be made to the local authority by the provider. If this is accepted your child is entitled to the full 412.5 hours for another year. There is also an option for the child to defer entry into primary school until they are six years old if this is felt to be appropriate and you would discuss this with school/local authority staff.

Retained year

If professionals and/or parents believe a child would benefit from staying at pre-school they can apply for funding to keep them for an additional year. This decision must be based on a professional assessment (one carried out by an educational psychologist for example) and have the full support of the parent or carer. It is at the discretion of the local authority whether this funding is granted and in some cases only local authority nursery schools and classes will receive funding and not partnership nurseries.


The necessary support for your child should be in place when your child enters nursery. However, if your child's difficulties are only identified once they are attending nursery, or their existing needs change dramatically, the nursery can apply for a local authority grant to provide additional support .A professional assessment by the education department will be required and you can request this yourself if you think it necessary. There are other sources of funding including direct application to childcare partnerships (for additional equipment, staff training etc).Your local authority or pre-school provider will be able to give you details of how to apply. The Scottish Pre-school Play Association also has a Special Needs Fund. (For more details:

Support staff

Once your child is attending nursery they may be supported by one or more of the following professionals:

a. Nursery nurses/Teachers;
b. Auxiliaries;
c. Learning support workers;
d. Inclusion workers;
e. Development workers; and/or Allied health professional eg occupational or speech and language therapists, physiotherapists.


Funding of transport to and from pre-school is at the discretion of individual local authorities and will be dependent on your child's current and long-term needs. - Ecosse ADDers 2005

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