The SCSC News

Press Release - Thousands of children in Scotland with Additional Support Needs may be missing out as figures don't add up for local authorities

Published on February 3, 2016
The SCSC raises concerns that thousands of Scottish children and young people with Additional Support Needs (ASN) may not be getting the support they are entitled to.

Major disparities between local authorities for those with Additional Support Needs (ASN) e.g.:

  • Primary school pupil figures for Glasgow – 23.5% v North Lanarkshire – 4.9%
  • Primary school pupil figures North Ayrshire – 26% v South Ayrshire - 9%.
  • Secondary school pupil figures for Aberdeen - 15% v Aberdeenshire – 33%

Thousands of children and young people in Scotland with Additional Support Needs (ASN), such as those with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, autism and care experience, may not be getting the support they are entitled to according to a coalition of leading independent and third sector children’s services providers.

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members), an alliance of organisations dealing with those with learning difficulties and complex needs, as well as those with care experience, has raised concerns after the publication of Scottish Government census data. 1

This indicates major disparities between local authorities when it comes to the proportion of pupils recorded with ASN, raising concerns that many children and young people may not be getting the full support they are entitled to on the back of these widely varying figures (see Notes to Editors for full figures).

It has called for urgent action to ensure that better quality and more reliable information in identifying and recording those with ASN is gathered by local authorities, urging the Scottish Government to provide stricter guidance on this matter. This will ensure that those with ASN are getting the support they require.

Scottish Government statistics on schools for 2015 (publically funded), indicate that while for Scotland as a whole 20.4% of primary school pupils and 24% of secondary school pupils are recorded as having ASN, there are major disparities in the percentage of pupils with ASN between local authorities (see Notes to Editors for figures for each local authority).

For example, 8% of those in secondary schools in North Lanarkshire are recorded as having ASN, compared with 36% in Glasgow. North Ayrshire records figures of 27% for secondary school pupils with ASN, compared with South Ayrshire recording 13%.

These disparities are due to local authority inconsistencies in gathering information on, and identifying and recording those with ASN. The inconsistencies, the coalition believes, is leading to varied support for those with ASN across local authorities. Many children and young people therefore may simply not be being identified and getting the support they are entitled to. As an example, the categorisation of “looked after children” differs from authority to authority.

Under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 a statutory duty is placed on local authorities to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils, difficult to do when there is inconsistent recording between local authorities.

Without a consistent and aligned method of recording such critical statistics it is difficult to ascertain if the numbers of categories of those with ASN is increasing, decreasing or staying the same. This clearly has an impact on the resourcing committed to dealing with this vulnerable group and ensuring that it is targeted in the most effective manner.

The SCSC is in the process of writing to the Scottish Government to ascertain what measures are being put in place by the Scottish Government to ensure that there is greater guidance in delivering a consistent approach by local authorities in identifying and recording those with ASN.

A spokesperson for the SCSC commented:

“As a coalition we find it worrying at these major disparities which indicate, for example, that as a percentage of the pupil population more than four times as many children and young people in Glasgow have ASN compared with North Lanarkshire.

“This inconsistency in gathering information on and identifying those with ASN by local authorities requires clearer and comprehensive guidance from the Scottish Government.

“The Scottish Government must commit to working more closely with local authorities to tackle this and develop a universal method to ensure that better information is recorded so that accurate numbers can be reported. Only then will we truly be able to provide the best support for some of Scotland’s most vulnerable people.”

1 Scottish Government, Pupil Census 2015 - Supplementary Data. Table 6.10 for primary school pupils and Table 7.5 for secondary school pupils, 9th December 2015. Available at: (Accessed 2nd February 2016).


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

Notes to Editors

Scottish Government, Pupil Census 2015 - Supplementary Data, 9th December 2015.

Primary school pupils with Additional Support Needs (Table 6.10)

With Additional Support Needs Percentage
Aberdeen City 2029 15.2
Aberdeenshire 7561 36.6
Angus 831 9.6
Argyll & Bute 871 15
Clackmannanshire 978 24.3
Dumfries & Galloway 2,952 27.5
Dundee City 1,620 15.6
East Ayrshire 1,885 20.9
East Dunbartonshire 1,648 18.8
East Lothian 1,451 17.6
East Renfrewshire 1,113 12.8
Edinburgh City 6,347 22
Eilean Siar 538 28.8
Falkirk 1882 14.9
Fife 4,037 14
Glasgow City 9,298 23.5
Highland 5,961 34.5
Inverclyde 1,199 21.9
Midlothian 1,401 19.8
Moray 1,715 24.8
North Ayrshire 2,671 26
North Lanarkshire 1,335 4.9
Orkney Islands 374 24.3
Perth & Kinross 3,265 31.8
Renfrewshire 1,368 10.6
Scottish Borders 2,602 31.9
Shetland Islands 462 24.9
South Ayrshire 698 9
South Lanarkshire 4,971 20.2
Stirling 1,408 21.4
West Dunbartonshire 2,385 33.8
West Lothian 2,959 19.2
Scotland 79,815 20.4


Secondary school pupils with Additional Support Needs (Table 7.5)

With Additional Support Needs Percentage
Aberdeen City 1,349 15
Aberdeenshire 4,739 33
Angus 754 12
Argyll & Bute 1,132 24
Clackmannanshire 676 27
Dumfries & Galloway 1,997 25
Dundee City 1,119 15
East Ayrshire 1,474 22
East Dunbartonshire 1,549 21
East Lothian 1,474 26
East Renfrewshire 1,682 22
Edinburgh City 4,250 23
Eilean Siar 567 38
Falkirk 1,417 16
Fife 4,172 21
Glasgow City 8,904 36
Highland 4,257 32
Inverclyde 1,214 28
Midlothian 1,217 24
Moray 1,482 29
North Ayrshire 2,056 27
North Lanarkshire 1,667 8
Orkney Islands 328 29
Perth & Kinross 2,516 24
Renfrewshire 1,612 16
Scottish Borders 1,534 24
Shetland Islands 291 21
South Ayrshire 832 13
South Lanarkshire 3,808 20
Stirling 1,668 29
West Dunbartonshire 1,812 35
West Lothian 2,804 26
Scotland 66,353 24


About the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers.

It campaigns for the delivery of high-quality, properly resourced services for vulnerable children and young people. This is so that they get best possible care and support, tailored to their individual needs and allowing them to achieve their full potential.

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.

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:An independent organisation that specialises in residential, fostering and integrated services for children and young people with complex needs, including autism, learning disabilities and mental health issues. It also offers specialist placements to children who may have suffered trauma or who have attachment based problems.
  • 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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