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Concerns raised as a third of pupils identified with additional support needs while support falls

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition – an alliance of leading providers of care, support and education to vulnerable children and young people – comments on an increase in the number of pupils identified with additional support needs (ASN).

The figures were released today (15th December) in the Scottish Government’s Summary statistics for schools in Scotland 2020, the annual census of pupils and teachers in publicly funded schools.

A spokesperson said:

“The figures show that the number of pupils with additional support needs (ASN), such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems in 2020 has reached a record high of 226,838. Of this total 58.0 per cent are boys.

“This represents 32.3 per cent of the pupil population, rising from 118,034 in 2012, and is a near doubling (92.2 per cent) in numbers from that year.

“While it is promising that this increase tells us that more young people with ASN are being identified, it is against a worrying background of damaging cuts to services.

“Ensuring the adequate provision of educational support for children young people with ASN is critical, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and the damaging impact this will have on them.

“We are committed to the principle of inclusive education, and to the policy of educating young people with ASN in mainstream classes where this is the most appropriate environment for their learning. However, we have major concerns over a lack of resources and specialist staff to support these children and young people. This clearly has an impact not only on the individuals concerned but also on their peers and teachers.

“It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, which is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap, as we know that those with ASN disproportionately come from lower income families and areas of deprivation. This is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity and evidence of cuts in spending per pupil with ASN.

“The cost to society in the long term if adequate resourcing is not provided will far outweigh any potential savings made today.”

“The Scottish Government and local authorities, along with the private and third sector, need to work together to provide the necessary resourcing and support to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN, who represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. “

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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.