The key changes under the Additional Support for Learning Act, coming into effect in November, will be:
* The phrase "special educational needs" disappears and the broader, more inclusive term "additional support needs" is introduced.
* A new duty is imposed on education authorities to make adequate and efficient provision for additional support.
* More children become entitled to support because the definition of additional support needs is wider than the old definition of special educational needs: it provides for anyone who needs extra support to access the same education as their peers and includes children who have suffered bereavement, have been bullied, are particularly gifted or who have English as an additional language.
* The Act stipulates that a co-ordinated support plan (CSP) will be prepared for children with ongoing additional support needs arising from complex or multiple factors, who require support from a range of providers.
* If a dispute arises and a child has a co-ordinated support plan, mediation services will be available; CSP cases which cannot be mutually agreed can be referred to an independent additional support needs tribunal.
* If a dispute arises and a child does not have a CSP, access will be given to mediation services and a new alternative dispute resolution service.
* Records of Needs disappear, although local authorities must reassess children who have RoNs over the next two years. It is estimated that about half of the 17,500 children with RoNs will be given a CSP and the rest will be assessed as having additional support needs.