About Additional Support Needs

A pupil has ‘additional support needs’ if something is getting in the way of their learning and they need more or different support from their peers. Pupils have the right to receive support so they can benefit from their education.

Pupils can have additional support needs for many reasons. It may be complex and long-lasting, or something temporary that is stopping a pupil from progressing. Anyone can need additional support at some point.

Class teachers provide a lot of the support.  Some pupils also need help or equipment provided by the wider support team.

If you would like more information about how pupils are supported in Scottish schools ENQUIRE is the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning. They provide free, independent information and advice on their helpline.

Click here to leave this website and go to the ENQUIRE guide for parents.

Here is our quick guide to some reasons pupils may have additional support needs, and useful organisations for further information and support.


A lifelong difficulty with communication, social interaction and flexible thinking. Pupils may need support with organisation, relating to peers and teachers, and/or with learning. They need understanding and flexibility from school staff,  and may also need a refuge away from busy times and areas of the school.

Scottish Autism
National Autistic Society

Cerebral Palsy

A lifelong difficulty with physical movements, caused by damage to the ‘movement centre’ in the brain. It can range from having tight muscles in one part of the body, to whole-body difficulties controlling large and small movements, including speech. Pupils may need support and assistive technology to access the school building and curriculum, and may need help with activities such as changing clothes or eating.

Capability Scotland

Downs Syndrome

A syndrome that is a common cause of learning disability, and can also cause health issues. Pupils may need support with learning and in relationships with peers.

Downs Syndrome Scotland


Dyslexia causes specific difficulties with learning to read, write and/or spell, despite having appropriate teaching. Pupils may need additional support to develop literacy skills and work at their full potential. They may also need assistive technology and alternative Assessment Arrangements.

Dyslexia Scotland


Dyspraxia causes difficulties with planning, co-ordinating and controlling actions and movements. Pupils may need support with organisation, behaviour and learning.

Dyspraxia Foundation

English as an Additional Language

Pupils may need support to develop their English skills, to feel included and be able to understand class teaching.

BBC Learning – Parents – English as An Additional Language
Inclusion and Equality Teacher Support – EAL

Emotional or behavioural difficulties

Some pupils need additional support to be able to understand rules and consequences, keep themselves safe, make healthier choices or develop confidence and resilience. Others may have additional support needs during a personal crisis, or after a traumatic event.

Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing
Family Lives
Young Minds

Family circumstances and young carers

Events and situations outside school can affect children’s learning, and pupils may need support in a crisis or long-term. For example, young carers may need an alternative arrangement for homework. All children who are Looked After (“in care”) are automatically considered to have additional support needs until or unless assessment shows they do not.

Family Lives
Princes Royal Trust for Carers
Young Carers
Who Cares Scotland

Learning Disability

A lifelong difficulty with learning new information or skills. Pupils may need additional support  to be able to understand class work. They may need personal targets for learning, and help with organisation and life skills.


Sensory Impairment

  • Hearing impairment

Hearing can be affected by a condition or injury, which can be present from birth or develop in later life. Pupils may need support to access their education and develop their communication skills.

National Deaf Children’s Society

  • Visual Impairment

A visual impairment means sight loss that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. Pupils may need support and assistive technology to access their education.

Visual Impairment Scotland

Speech and language impairments

People can have a range of difficulties with speech and language, which can affect their learning and social relationships. These difficulties may be lifelong, or may reduce or disappear with support and Speech Therapy.

Speech impairments include difficulties with recognising and pronouncing speech sounds, stammering, and physical difficulties with making the movements of speech.

Language impairments include difficulties learning new words; finding the right words or forming sentences; understanding what other people are saying; understanding the ‘rules’ of conversation, and picking up on hints in social situations.

Pupils need understanding from their teachers, and may need support to access their education. They may need personal targets for their learning, and help with relationships with peers.

Afasic Scotland

Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is caused by a problem with the development of the spine and nerves while the baby is in the womb. It leads to problems with movement and coordination, and can cause some learning difficulties and other problems with body control. Pupils may need support to move around school and access their education.

Scottish Spina Bifida Association

These are just some examples of why pupils may need additional support.
We hope the links are useful. If you are looking for advice about a disability or health issue not listed, or for local support organisations, Contact a Family is a very helpful advice service.

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part of the team supporting pupils at Musselburgh Grammar