Commenting on the Scottish Government’s statistics for attainment and initial leaver destinations for school leavers (2018/19) a spokesperson for the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition – an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers – commented:
“We are deeply concerned about falling levels of attainment for those school leavers with additional support needs (ASN) such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems.
“While 91 per cent of those school leavers with ASN had at least one pass at National 4 in 2017/18, this had reduced to 90.7 per cent in 2018/19. For those with at least one pass at National 5 this had fallen from 70.4 per cent to 69.8 per cent. And for those with at least one pass at Higher this had fallen from 39.5 per cent to 39.3 per cent.
“The attainment gap between those care leavers with ASN and those with no ASN has increased from 7.3 per cent for 2017/18 to 7.6 per cent in 2018/19 for those with at least one pass at National 4, and from 21.8 per cent to 22.4 per cent for those with at least one pass at National 5. It has dropped from 31.9 per cent to 31.2 per cent for those with at least one pass at Higher.
“It is deeply disappointing to see this fall in levels of attainment for those school leavers with ASN, and that the attainment gap is opening between those with ASN and those with no ASN for some qualifications.
“Along with the National Deaf Children’s Society, the National Autistic Society Scotland, and Royal Blind we recently made a call for increased funding in the Scottish Government budget to support those with ASN.
“While the numbers of those with ASN has increased to 215,897, amounting to just under a third of the pupil population, we are aware that spend per pupil for those with ASN has consistently fallen.
“It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need in order to give them the best possible start in life and close the educational attainment gap.
“Too many pupils with additional support needs are missing out on the specialist support they require because of budget cuts at a time of increasing need.
“This is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity, however, the cost to society in the long term if adequate resourcing is not provided will far outweigh any potential savings made today.”