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Coalition raises major concerns over falling levels of school leavers with additional support needs in positive destinations

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s statistics for school leaver destinations for 2018/19 out today (16th June 2020), 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 the falling levels of school leavers with additional support needs (ASN), such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems, entering a positive destination nine months after leaving school. This includes the likes of further education, higher education, employment and training.

While 87.9 per cent of 2018/19 school leavers with ASN were in a positive destination nine months after leaving school, this is a drop on 2017/18 when the figure was 88.4 per cent. For those with no ASN the figures are 95.1 per cent and 95.3 per cent respectively.

“The gap between those school leavers with ASN and those with no ASN in a positive destination has increased from 6.9 per cent for 2017/18 to 7.2 per cent in 2018/19.

“It is deeply disappointing to see a fall in the number of school leavers with ASN in a positive destination and to note that this gap is growing when compared with those with no ASN. There is also a clear gap between the number of those with ASN who are unemployed (10.2 per cent), compared with those with no ASN (3.9 percent).

“As the impact of COVID-19 becomes more evident we anticipate this gap growing and it is crucial that resourcing is targeted at those individuals with ASN to give them the best possible opportunities, both in the classroom and as they transition beyond it.

“The statistics come hot on the heels of recent evidence that the attainment gap between those school 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.

“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.”

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The SCSC is an alliance of leading providers of education, care and support to vulnerable children, young people and their families.