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:
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).
For further information please contact Alex Orr, Policy Adviser to the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, on 0131 603 8996 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
|Argyll & Bute||29||36||41||42||42||43||41||40||45|
|Dumfries & Galloway||83||125||121||130||124||132||124||120||104|
|Perth & Kinross||39||79||70||73||61||68||83||90||89|
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.