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Press Release – Cuts in additional support teacher numbers set to have a major impact on pupils

  • 22 of 32 Scottish local authorities record fall in number of additional support teachers

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, making it harder to close the educational attainment gap.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members), an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers that support vulnerable children and young people as well as their families, has highlighted new figures indicating a 13% fall in the number of additional support for learning teachers between 2010 and 2015, a new low.

It has called on John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills to make children and young people with ASN a priority and invest in their futures if the Scottish Government is to achieve its aspiration of closing the educational attainment gap.

Additional support may be required for those who, for example, have social emotional and behavioural difficulties, learning difficulties, learning disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), physical or mental health problems, or are care experienced. Those with ASN come disproportionately from lower income families and areas of deprivation.

In the answer to a Parliamentary Question from Miles Briggs MSP, the number of additional support for learning teachers (those who have additional support for learning as their main subject) has fallen by 13% from 3,363 to 2,936 between 2010 and 2015 (see Notes to Editors).

22 of 32 local authorities recorded a fall in the number of additional support for learning teachers over this period:

  • Aberdeen City – drop by a third from 174 to 115
  • Aberdeenshire – drop by 10% from 292 to 263
  • Angus – drop by 15% from 97 to 82
  • Dumfries & Galloway – drop by 20% from 130 to 104
  • Dundee City – drop by 17% from 159 to 131
  • East Ayrshire – drop by 3% from 110 to 107
  • East Lothian – drop by 18% from 56 to 46
  • Edinburgh – drop by 26% from 168 to 125
  • Eilean Siar – drop by 36% from 22 to 14
  • Falkirk – drop by 18% from 131 to 108
  • Fife – drop by 18% from 236 to 194
  • Glasgow City – drop by 21% from 245 to 194
  • Highland – drop by 15% from 190 to 161
  • Inverclyde – drop by 15% from 47 to 40
  • Moray – drop by 12% from 99 to 87
  • North Lanarkshire – drop by 30% from 185 to 130
  • Renfrewshire – drop by 8% from 53 to 49
  • Shetland Islands – drop by 18% from 50 to 41
  • South Ayrshire – drop by 6% from 106 to 100
  • South Lanarkshire – drop by 17% from 156 to 130
  • Stirling – drop by 2% from 43 to 42
  • West Lothian – drop by 25% from 88 to 66

This is against the background of the fact that more than one in five (22.5%) of those in the school population – 153,190 pupils – are identified as having ASN, of which 61% are boys.1

The fall in the number of additional support for learning 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 tackle social exclusion.

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.

Stuart Jacob, Director of Falkland House School and member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition said:

“The fact that the number of additional support for learning teachers has fallen by 13 per cent since 2010, a new low, is deeply disturbing, especially as we are aware that more than one in five of the pupil population have ASN and we know the great benefits to be gained through early detection and intervention.

“If we are indeed to close the attainment gap and achieve the Scottish Government’s aim of equal opportunity for all, a welcome aspiration, 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.

“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.

“If we don’t act we are facing the worrying prospect of a lost generation of young people.”

1  Scottish Government, Summary of Statistics Trend Last Update, December 2015. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/School-Education/TrendSpecialEducation (Accessed 25th January 2016).

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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

1. Parliamentary question

16 June 2016

Miles Briggs (Lothian) (Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party): To ask the Scottish Government how many additional support for learning teachers there have been each year since 2007, broken down by local authority.

John Swinney:

The following table sets out the number of additional support for learning teachers in each authority since 2007. These figures only represent the number of teachers in Scotland’s schools who have additional support for learning as their main subject. In 2015, 95 per cent of children and young people with additional support needs were recorded as learning within a mainstream school and received support from a wide range of teaching staff across a range of subjects.

Teachers with additional support for learning as their main subject, 2007 to 2015

200720082009201020112012201320142015
Aberdeen City191184192174161167147116115
Aberdeenshire209227279292286277265242263
Angus94105979710293827982
Argyll & Bute293641424243414045
Clackmannanshire293335303026243030
Dumfries & Galloway83125121130124132124120104
Dundee City182169159159148148137138131
East Ayrshire5564115110109111111107107
East Dunbartonshire466655535058605358
East Lothian414460565855495046
East Renfrewshire434643363443424241
Edinburgh City166176169168165153150138125
Eilean Siar151925222221231514
Falkirk112122148131133124124116108
Fife233235248236209208211173194
Glasgow City235240214245236260245220194
Highland225208216190171163150129161
Inverclyde495553474347463640
Midlothian444043403840605751
Moray7996989999100928787
North Ayrshire104117118116121119125124126
North Lanarkshire186200189185175162140147130
Orkney Islands192220222627322929
Perth & Kinross397970736168839089
Renfrewshire857862535754575249
Scottish Borders788080658887818683
Shetland Islands404552504441413741
South Ayrshire837677106101109106103100
South Lanarkshire119146151156158152150137130
Stirling273435434036384142
West Dunbartonshire284552485150486055
West Lothian929087887676737166
Scotland3,0623,3013,4023,3633,2583,2493,1572,9632,936

This includes teachers in primary, secondary, special schools, and centrally employed teachers, with their main subject recorded as: Learning Support Secondary; Learning Support, Primary; SEN (primary) non-recorded pupils; SEN (recorded pupils); SEN (Secondary) non-recorded pupils; SEN Behavioural Support; SEN Learning Difficulties; SEN Physical Disabilities; Hearing Impairment; or Visual Impairment. The Scotland total includes teachers at grant aided schools.

2. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers that care for and support vulnerable children and young people as well as their families.

Its vision is for Scotland to become a world leader in the care and support of vulnerable children and young people. The SCSC aims to achieve this through campaigning for a wide-variety of high-quality, well-resourced and quickly accessible services. This is so that they get best possible care and support, tailored to their individual needs and helping them to achieve their full potential.

SCSC members, between them, deliver specialist care and education services to children and young people with ASN, 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.

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: An independent Scottish charity providing one-to-one support to families and offering help, advice and training to individuals and organisations who work with people with learning difficulties. Mindroom is dedicated to creating awareness of all kinds of learning difficulties and is an equal partner with Edinburgh University in the Salvesen Mindroom Centre.

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 organisation that provides independent advocacy and group work opportunities for care experienced children and young people. They also train those delivering care, the Government and other organisations in the realities of growing up in care from the perspectives of children and young people. Who Cares? Scotland has been work with children and young people for over 35 years and uses this experience to campaign, lobby and speak out on behalf of care experienced children and young people across Scotland.

Young Foundations: Young Foundations: An independent organisation specialising in the care of children and young people with a range of complex needs. The aim of our Scottish service is to care, support, develop and empower young people with complex difficulties to realise their potential in a safe, secure and nurturing environment. This is achieved through a holistic model of care which is distinctive of compassion, skill and evidence based positive interventions.

Kindred: A voluntary organisation that provides information, advocacy and emotional support to parents/carers of children and young people with Additional Support Needs.

Action for Sick Children Scotland (ASCS): A Scottish charity working on behalf of ALL sick children and young people within our healthcare system, and for the best quality healthcare for children and young people in Scotland.   It aims to enable children and young people to exercise their rights to healthcare, to have these rights upheld and their healthcare needs met, in partnership with families and professionals.  ASCS does this through its projects working with children and families and by providing support, advice and information on children and young people’s healthcare.

  1. Further information on the SCSC can be found at www.thescsc.org.uk.
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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.