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

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 [email protected].

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 City202915.2
Argyll & Bute87115
Dumfries & Galloway2,95227.5
Dundee City 1,62015.6
East Ayrshire 1,88520.9
East Dunbartonshire 1,64818.8
East Lothian 1,45117.6
East Renfrewshire 1,11312.8
Edinburgh City 6,34722
Eilean Siar 53828.8
Glasgow City 9,29823.5
Highland 5,96134.5
Inverclyde 1,19921.9
Midlothian 1,40119.8
Moray 1,71524.8
North Ayrshire 2,67126
North Lanarkshire 1,3354.9
Orkney Islands 37424.3
Perth & Kinross 3,26531.8
Scottish Borders 2,60231.9
Shetland Islands 46224.9
South Ayrshire 6989
South Lanarkshire 4,97120.2
Stirling 1,40821.4
West Dunbartonshire 2,38533.8
West Lothian 2,95919.2


Secondary school pupils with Additional Support Needs (Table 7.5)

With Additional Support Needs Percentage
Aberdeen City1,34915
Argyll & Bute1,13224
Dumfries & Galloway1,99725
Dundee City 1,11915
East Ayrshire 1,47422
East Dunbartonshire 1,54921
East Lothian 1,47426
East Renfrewshire 1,68222
Edinburgh City 4,25023
Eilean Siar 56738
Glasgow City 8,90436
Highland 4,25732
Inverclyde 1,21428
Midlothian 1,21724
Moray 1,48229
North Ayrshire 2,05627
North Lanarkshire 1,6678
Orkney Islands 32829
Perth & Kinross 2,51624
Scottish Borders 1,53424
Shetland Islands 29121
South Ayrshire 83213
South Lanarkshire 3,80820
Stirling 1,66829
West Dunbartonshire 1,81235
West Lothian 2,80426


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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