Coalition calls for action as 11% cut in additional support for learning spending revealed

Published on April 26, 2017
  • Average spend per pupil on additional support for learning cut by £459 between 2012/13 and 2015/16, equivalent to an 11 per cent drop
  • Ten local authorities with a cut of a third or more per pupil

An alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers for children and young people has called on incoming council administrations and the Scottish Government to act urgently and increase funding as new figures highlight a £459 cut in additional support for learning spend per pupil since 2012/13, representing an 11 per cent drop.

Additional support for a pupil or young person may be required for a variety of reasons, if for example, they have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, dyslexia, autism, mental health problems, or are care experienced.

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended), local authorities have a statutory requirement to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of children and young people for whose education they are responsible.

The figures, contained in a response to a Parliamentary Question from Miles Briggs MSP have highlighted that there has been an 11 per cent cut in average per pupil-spend on additional support for learning in primary, secondary and special schools, from £4,276 in 2012-13 to £3,817 in 2015-16, amounting to £459 (full list by local authority at the end of this release).

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), which campaigns to improve services for vulnerable children and young people, has repeated its call outlined in its manifesto for incoming town hall administrations to put their needs at the heart of future policy commitments and increase funding for these service.

It has urged incoming administrations, working with the Scottish Government, to reverse cuts in services to these children and young people and spend in order to invest for the future, closing the educational attainment gap and improving educational outcomes.

Ten local authorities have experienced a cut in spend per pupil of over a third: Aberdeen City (49 per cent), Angus (71 per cent), East Dunbartonshire (35 per cent), Falkirk (33 per cent), Midlothian (41 per cent), Moray (42 per cent), Renfrewshire (39 per cent), South Lanarkshire (61 per cent), Stirling (44 per cent), and West Lothian (48 per cent).

Over 170,329 children and young people in Scotland’s publically funded primary, secondary and special schools are classed as having ASN, amounting to just under a quarter (24.9 per cent) of pupils. This represents a 44 per cent increase in the number of those identified with ASN since 2012.

However provision in Scotland for these pupils is under severe pressure due to a raft of austerity cuts.

Since 2012 the number of specialist ASN teachers in local authority primary and secondary schools has fallen by 16 per cent, from 2,146 to 1,799. 1 When it comes to support staff, the number of ASN auxiliaries or care assistants has fallen by 13 per cent, from 5,258 to 4,581, while the number of behaviour support staff has fallen by 14 per cent, from 153 to 131. 2

While the SCSC is fully in support of the presumption of mainstreaming, it has raised concerns that given these cuts vulnerable children and young people may not be getting the care and support they need in the classroom, with an impact not only on them, but on their peers and teachers.

It has also called for a dedicated Scottish Government ASN Attainment Fund for local authorities, highly-targeted for maximum benefit and additional to, not replacing current funding.

Commenting on the figures, Kenny Graham from Falkland House School, a member of the SCSC commented:

“These figures are a wake-up call and it is in all our best interests that those with ASN get the care and support that they need. Councils are facing a difficult financial environment, but they play an absolutely vital role in meeting the additional support needs of children and young people.

“We urge incoming council administrations to work with the Scottish Government and put children and young people with ASN at the very heart of their policy commitments and look for them to increase funding for this group.

“These young people have a right to a learning and teaching process that suits them best and if we are to close the educational attainment gap and improve educational outcomes it is vital that we address their needs.”


1 Scottish Government, Supplementary data for the Teacher Census 2016, Table 2.8 for primary school and 3.9 for secondary school. This is with their man subject recorded as: Learning Support, ASN, Hearing Impairment and Visual Impairment

2 Scottish Government, Supplementary data for the Teacher Census 2016, Table 2.15 for primary school and 3.17 for secondary school. 2012: Scottish Government, Supplementary data for the Teacher Census 2012, Table 2.15 for primary school and 3.17 for secondary school.


For further information please contact Alex Orr, Policy Adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, on 0131 603 8996 or [email protected].

24 April 2017

Index Heading: Learning and Justice

Miles Briggs (Lothian) (Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Government how much has been spent (a) overall and (b) on average per pupil on additional support for learning education in each of the last five years, and what percentage of the overall education budget this represents, also broken down by local authority.


John Swinney:

Data detailing spending on additional support for learning is collected from local authorities via the Local Financial Returns (LFR). There are four years of data available on spending for additional support for learning, from 2012-13 to 2015-16.

Table 3 - Additional support for learning spending   per pupil (£s)
All local Authorities      4,276       4,234       4,127    3,817
Aberdeen City  11,975    4,513    7,765    6,092
Aberdeenshire    2,545    2,736    2,690    2,538
Angus    1,978    1,921    1,644     572
Argyll & Bute    5,112    4,933    4,745    4,380
Clackmannanshire    4,750    3,955    4,326    4,008
Dumfries & Galloway    3,855    3,267    3,089    2,932
Dundee City    5,161    5,208    5,446    4,528
East Ayrshire    3,717    3,607    3,436    2,815
East Dunbartonshire    5,501    4,243    4,123    3,582
East Lothian    4,726    4,375    4,344    4,279
East Renfrewshire    4,269    4,550    4,180    4,036
Edinburgh, City of    3,275    3,875    4,015    3,472
Eilean Siar    4,873    5,349    4,519    4,336
Falkirk    8,042    6,270    5,733    5,420
Fife    3,743    3,962    4,097    3,697
Glasgow City    4,323    4,210    4,308    4,532
Highland    4,378    5,091    4,902    3,821
Inverclyde    4,404    4,168    3,592    3,360
Midlothian    8,288    6,331    5,767    4,860
Moray    6,146    4,432    3,953    3,565
North Ayrshire       -    2,534    2,303    2,053
North Lanarkshire   11,216   10,989   10,801   10,074
Orkney Islands    2,681    5,279    5,595    5,309
Perth & Kinross     271    2,819    2,648    2,485
Renfrewshire   11,134    6,595    6,623    6,834
Scottish Borders     520    1,363    1,073     876
Shetland Islands       -    7,485    7,054    6,683
South Ayrshire     475    3,962   7,560    8,026
South Lanarkshire    9,629    5,158    4,026    3,799
Stirling    2,854    1,679    1,948    1,607
West Dunbartonshire    2,342    2,708    2,436    2,946
West Lothian    5,665    5,555    3,575    2,962


  1. Local Financial Returns – Education (LFR 1) statistical return provided by local authorities to the Scottish Government.
  2. Pupil Census – published annually - for further details go to;

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