A coalition of organisations dealing with vulnerable children and young people has warned Local Authorities against cutting budgets for those with Additional Support Needs (ASN) – such as those with autism, learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD and those with care experience.
The call comes as Scottish Government figures out today (9th December) indicate that this year 22.5 per cent of pupils in Scotland’s schools in 2015 are recorded as having ASN. This amounts to 153,190 pupils. 1
Of these 93,362 are male (61 per cent) and 59,823 female (39 per cent)
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), which deals with children and young people with learning learning difficulties and complex needs, as well as those with care experience, has written to all Local Authorities, warning them of the impact of cutting support to those with ASN when they set their budget.
COSLA has already warned that Scottish councils could face up to half a billion pounds of cuts, savings and spending pressures in the coming year.s.
The coalition also called for additional financial help to Local Authorities to assist in addressing the impact of children and young people with life limiting conditions living much longer due to medical advances and occupying places in special schools.
It warns that the cost to society of failing to adequately support those with ASN will far outweigh any potential budget cuts. This is because pupils who have ASN have a considerably higher exclusion rate than the rest of the pupil population – more than four times higher than those pupils with no ASN - and are less likely to go onto positive destinations, such as into further and higher education and employment and training.
Reduction in individual support to children with challenging behaviour can result in severe disruption to mainstream classes with teachers, heads and deputy heads drawn into managing fraught situations.
In addition, new evidence from the Children’s Hospice Association (CHAS) indicate that the number of children and young people in Scotland with a life-limiting condition has risen 'markedly' from 12,039 (2009/10) to 15,404 (2013/14). 2 Many of these children and young people will be educated in a special school environment putting great pressure on school places.
This is then tipping children with challenging behaviour into mainstream schools, helping to explain extreme pressure on Scotland's schools and Additional Support for Learning (ASL) resources.
The coalition also warned that cuts could lead to local authorities breaching their statutory obligations under the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004 (as amended) - which has a requirement to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.
The coalition also raised concerns that the number of teachers has consistently fallen, from 54,347 in 2008 to 50,717 this year, but welcomed the fact that cases of exclusion have dropped from 21,955 in 2012/13 to 18,430 in 2014/15.
Commenting on the findings, a spokesperson from the SCSC said:
“The fact that we are getting better at identifying those children and young people with Additional Support Needs is to be greatly welcomed. Urgent action is however required to ensure that those children and young people with ASN are now provided with adequate support, delivering the best possible outcomes.
“Local authorities are finding it increasingly difficult to provide the necessary services to these young people due to budget cuts. Yet, we would warn them against cutting vital services to those with ASN when they set their budgets as we are well-aware of the impacts of failing to address the needs of this vulnerable group.”
1 Scottish Government, Summary statistics for schools in Scotland - No. 6: 2015, 9th December 2015. Available at:http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/12/7925
2 University of York, Children in Scotland requiring Palliative Care: identifying numbers and needs (The ChiSP Study), Published October 2015. Commissioned by the managed Service Network for Children and Young People with Cancer (MSNCYPC), through Children's Hospice Association Scotland.
Notes to Editors
1. About the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC)
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers. SCSC members deliver specialist care and education services to vulnerable children and young people with complex needs, such as those with learning difficulties and learning disabilities, as well as direct help and support to their families. They also provide independent advocacy, advice and representation to children and young people with care experience. The SCSC campaigns for the delivery of high-quality and properly resourced services to vulnerable children and young people, so that they are able to reach their full potential through getting the best possible care and support.
2. Members of the SCSC are:
3. Further information about the SCSC can be found at www.thescsc.org.uk.