Recently, as a result of international treaties and domestic legislation, children’s rights have moved to centre stage. In Scotland, under the terms of the Education (Scotland) Act 2016, those with additional support needs and disabilities (ASND) enjoy enhanced and legally enforceable rights, described by the Scottish Government as the most progressive children’s rights regime in Europe. This paper assesses the extent to which children’s rights have been prioritised during the COVID-19 crisis. Evidence is drawn from a qualitative study of the experiences of 16 families including a child with ASND during June and July 2020. We conclude that, particularly in the early days of the lockdown, scant regard was paid to the rights of children with ASND as education and care services were suddenly withdrawn. Existing inequalities were exacerbated, such as unequal access to IT, varying levels of support and differences in family resources. Families also reported some positive experiences, such as enjoying more time together and a release from school-generated stress. The paper concludes by arguing that the hiatus in educational provision is likely to have a negative impact on the educational progress and wellbeing of children with ASND, which will take determined efforts to rectify in the future.


This content is not covered by the Open Government Licence. Please see source record or item for information on rights and permissions.

Cite as

Couper-Kenney, F. & Riddell, S. 2021, 'The impact of COVID-19 on children with additional support needs and disabilities in Scotland', European Journal of Special Needs Education, 36 (1 ), pp. 20-34 . https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2021.1872844

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 21 July 2022
Was this page helpful?