An alliance of leading providers of children’s services, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), has called for greater resourcing to support children and young people with additional support needs (ASN), both during and after the Covid-19 crisis.
The call comes as new figures out today (15th March 2022) from the Scottish Government’s annual teacher census, reveal that while the number of specialist ASN teachers has been slashed over recent years, the number of those pupils with ASN has soared to a new high.
Between 2012 and 2021 the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers (publicly funded primary, secondary, special and centrally employed) has fallen from 3,389 to 2,886, a decrease of 503 teachers, representing a cut of 14.8 per cent.*
This fall is against the background of a 97.2 per cent increase between 2012 and 2021 in the number of pupils identified with ASN, from 118,011 to 232,753, amounting to 114,742 individuals. Those with ASN currently representing just under a third of all pupils (33.0 per cent).**
Against a background of spending cuts and cuts in specialist support, the SCSC has called for greater resourcing from both the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure that those with ASN, who are disproportionately drawn from poorer neighbourhoods, are getting the care and support that they need.
The coalition has also raised concerns about the effectiveness of a presumption of mainstreaming, meaning that all pupils are educated in a mainstream educational environment unless exceptional circumstances apply.
A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:
“It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, especially during and as we come out of the current Covid-19 crisis. This is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap as we know that those with ASN are disproportionately drawn from poorer neighbourhoods. With cuts in support, including in the number of specialist teachers, it is going to be extremely challenging to reduce the current inequalities faced by those with ASN.
“While we also support the presumption of mainstreaming, which means that all children and young people are educated in a mainstream educational environment unless exceptional circumstances apply, it is clearly difficult to see how this is functioning properly given the fall in specialist support and increase in the number of those with ASN.
“The Scottish Government and local authorities need to work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN, who represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. “