New figures on teacher cuts set to have a major impact on children with additional support needs

Published on August 20, 2015

Thousands of Scottish children with additional support needs (ASN) may not be getting the support they need according to a coalition of leading third and independent sector service providers.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members), a coalition of organisations dealing with those with learning difficulties and complex needs as well as those with care experience, has highlighted new figures highlighting a fall in the number of ASN teachers.

Additional support may be required for those who, for example, have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, dyslexia or care experience.

According to the answer to a Parliamentary Question from Siobhan McMahon MSP the number of specialist ASN teachers has fallen by 12% from 3,363 to 2,963 between 2010 and 2014 (see Notes to Editors).

22 of 32 local authorities recorded a fall:

  • Aberdeen City - drop by a third from 174 to 116
  • Aberdeenshire – drop by 17% from 292 to 242
  • Angus – drop by 19% from 97 to 79
  • Argyll & Bute – drop by 5% from 42 to 40
  • Dumfries & Galloway – drop by 8% from 130 to 120
  • Dundee City – drop by 13% from 159 to 138
  • Highland – drop by a third from 190 to 129
  • East Ayrshire – drop by 3% from 110 to 107
  • Edinburgh – drop by 18% from 168 to 138
  • Eilean Siar – drop by a third from 22 to 15
  • Falkirk – drop by 12% from 131 to 116
  • Fife – drop by 24% from 236 to 173
  • Glasgow City – drop by 10% from 245 to 220
  • Inverclyde – drop by 23% from 47 to 36
  • Moray – drop by 12% from 99 to 87
  • North Lanarkshire – drop by 21% from 185 to 147
  • Renfrewshire – drop by 2% from 53 to 52
  • Shetland Islands – drop by 26% from 50 to 37
  • South Ayrshire – drop by 3% from 106 to 103
  • South Lanarkshire – drop by 12% from 156 to 137
  • Stirling – drop by 5% from 43 to 41
  • West Lothian – drop by 19% from 88 to 71

This is against the background of the fact that more than one in five (20.8%) of those in the school population – 140,524 pupils - are identified as having ASN, of which 62% are boys.1

 Teacher numbers overall have also suffered a drop, from 52,022 in 2010 to 50,814 in 2014.2

The fall in the number of ASN teachers means that pupils with ASN may not receive the types and levels of support that they both deserve and require. It also increases the strain on class teachers, with implications for both teachers and pupils within the class. It is vital that resources are directed to this group of vulnerable young people if we are to close the educational attainment gap and reduce social exclusion.

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended), local authorities have a statutory requirement to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils.

The coalition previously expressed concern at the level of cuts being proposed by local authorities and that with the impact this will have on much needed services and resources for pupils with ASN this may be breaching their statutory rights.

 Cutting support to the likes of educational psychologists, speech therapists and specialist support staff is also a false economy as it is in the interests of all concerned that we continue to invest in these services to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our society, ensuring that they reach their full potential.

Commenting on the reduction in the number of ASN teachers, a spokesperson for the coalition said:

“The fact that the number of ASN teachers has fallen by 12 per cent since 2010 is deeply disturbing, especially as we are aware that one in five of the pupil population have ASN and we know the great benefits to be gained through early detection and intervention.

“Cutting numbers of these specialist staff will only serve to isolate more young people and their families. For us, this is completely unacceptable. By reducing the number of these teachers we are preventing many of these vulnerable young people chance of achieving a positive school-leaver destination, such as further education or employment, meaning that they are not achieving their full potential.

“ASN disproportionally affects those children from lower income families and areas of deprivation. If we are to close the attainment gap this is one group of individuals we need to devote resources to.

“With accompanying cuts in support to the likes of educational psychologists, speech therapists and support staff we are facing the worrying prospect of a lost generation of young people.”


1 Scottish Government, Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland, No 5: 2014 Edition, December 2014. Available at:

2 Ibid.

For further information please contact Alex Orr, Policy Adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, on 0131 603 8996 or [email protected].

Notes to Editors

12th August 2015

Parliamentary question

Siobhan McMahon (Central Scotland) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government how many additional support for learning teachers there have been in each year since 2007, broken down by local authority.

Angela Constance:

Education authorities and other agencies have duties under the Additional Support for Learning Act 2004 (as amended) to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils. It is for education authorities to ensure that they have sufficient resources, including teaching and support staff to ensure that they meet their statutory responsibilities.

The following table shows teachers with additional support needs for learning as their main subject, 2007 to 2014:

Local Authority20072008200920102011201220132014
Aberdeen City191184192174161167147116
Argyll & Bute2936414242434140
Dumfries & Galloway83125121130124132124120
Dundee City182169159159148148137138
East Ayrshire5564115110109111111107
East Dunbartonshire4666555350586053
East Lothian4144605658554950
East Renfrewshire4346433634434242
Edinburgh City166176169168165153150138
Eilean Siar1519252222212315
Glasgow City235240214245236260245220
North Ayrshire104117118116121119125124
North Lanarkshire186200189185175162140147
Orkney Islands1922202226273229
Perth & Kinross3979707361688390
Scottish Borders7880806588878186
Shetland Islands4045525044414137
South Ayrshire837677106101109106103
South Lanarkshire119146151156158152150137
West Dunbartonshire2845524851504860
West Lothian9290878876767371

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.

  • Members of the SCSC are:
  • Falkland House School: An independent school based in Fife that specialises in the education and care of boys who require support for learning. It was one of the first independent schools in Scotland to be awarded Autism Accreditation by the National Autistic Society and offers day, 39 week and 52 week placements.
  • Mindroom: A charity dedicated to creating awareness of all kinds of learning difficulties. Mindroom also provides one-to-one support to families and offer help advice and training to individuals and organisations who work with people with learning difficulties.
  • Spark of Genius: An independent organisation offering residential care, education, autism services, post-16 employability programmes and adult services throughout the UK. It enables children, young people and adults who need a variety of support to achieve their potential.
  • Who Cares? Scotland: A third sector independent advocacy organisation that provides individual and collective advocacy to children and young people with care experience across Scotland, as well as Corporate Parenting training and information.  Who Cares? Scotland has been working with children and young people for 35 years and uses this experience to campaign, lobby and speak out both with and on their behalf.
  • Young Foundations:
  • Kindred: A voluntary organisation that provides information, advocacy and emotional support to parents/carers of children and young people with additional support needs.

Further information about the SCSC can be found at



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