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:
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: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/12/7590/4.
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
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.
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:
|Argyll & Bute||29||36||41||42||42||43||41||40|
|Dumfries & Galloway||83||125||121||130||124||132||124||120|
|Perth & Kinross||39||79||70||73||61||68||83||90|
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.
Further information about the SCSC can be found at www.thescsc.org.uk.