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Press Release – Coalition calls for investment in vulnerable pupils if educational attainment gap is to be closed

Greater investment in tailored services and resources for children and young people with Additional Support Needs (ASN) is required if the Government is to genuinely close the educational attainment gap, a leading coalition of independent and third sector children and young people service providers have advised the Scottish Government.

In a letter to John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) called on the Deputy First Minister to make children and young people with ASN a priority and invest in their futures.

The SCSC has highlighted to Mr Swinney that if we are indeed to close the attainment gap and achieve the FM’s aim of equal opportunity for all, a welcome aspiration for this Government, it is this group of children and young people, who disproportionately come from lower income families and areas of deprivation, who desperately need extra attention.

Latest Scottish Government figures indicate more than 153,000 pupils in Scottish schools classed as having ASN (more than 22.5 per cent of the pupil population) 1 but in the face of local authority cuts the number of specialist support staff in Scottish schools has dropped by nearly 10 per cent between 2010 and 2015 (from 19,332 to 17,408).2

 The most recent figures on attainment and leaver destinations indicate that school leavers with ASN are more than twice as likely to be unemployed or workless (15.1 per cent) than those with no ASN (6.3 per cent) nine months after leaving school.3

If these children and young people are to become an integral part of society more needs to be done to ensure true equality of opportunity for every child and young person.

Under the policy of inclusion there is a presumption that pupils with ASN are taught in a mainstream environment. There must therefore be genuine assessment about their ability to cope in mainstream education, with the necessary resources provided to support them and alternative provision offered should mainstream not be able to address their needs.

A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:

“Supporting children and young people with ASN is vital if we are to create an equal society and genuinely close the educational attainment gap once and for all. Resources have become so stretched that children and young people who require extra support and tailored services to their individual needs are simply being left behind.

“We must invest in early intervention to create an environment where if a child has ASN it will not impact on their ability to thrive and succeed in their education.”

ENDS

 For further information please contact Alex Orr, Policy Adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, on 0131 603 8996 or contact@thescsc.org.uk.

Notes to Editors

References

1 Scottish Government, High Level Summary of Statistics Trend Last update: December 2015 – Additional Support Needs. Accessed at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/TrendSpecialEducation

2 TESS, Support staff: the hidden casualties of austerity, 26th February 2016.

3 Scottish Government, Attainment and leaver destinations supplementary tables – updated December 2015, 8 December, Table L1.6. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/leavedestla/follleavedestat/attainmentandleavers1314 (Accessed 25th January 2016).

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About the Author

The SCSC is a collection of leading independent and third sector service providers. Members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs and care experience.