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Press Release – Thousands of children in Scotland with Additional Support Needs may be missing out due to local authority ‘postcode lottery’

‘Postcode lottery’ for those with Additional Support Needs (ASN) e.g.:

  • School pupil figures for Glasgow – 29.8% v North Lanarkshire – 8.0%
  • School pupil figures North Ayrshire – 27.1% v South Ayrshire – 11.6%
  • School pupil figures for Aberdeen – 15.9% v Aberdeenshire – 35.7%
  • School pupil figures for East Dunbartonshire – 20.6% v West Dunbartonshire – 35.3%

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 the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC).

The 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. It campaigns to make Scotland a world leader in the care and support of vulnerable children and young people (members in Notes to Editors). The coalition has raised concerns of a ‘postcode lottery’ of care and support after a response to a Scottish Parliamentary Question from Richard Lochhead MSP.

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

While for Scotland as a whole 22.5% of pupils in 2015 were recorded as having ASN (in publically funded primary, secondary and special schools), there are major disparities in the percentage of pupils who have ASN between local authorities.

For example, 29.8% of pupils in schools in Glasgow were recorded as having ASN, compared with 8% in neighbouring North Lanarkshire. North Ayrshire recorded figures of 27.1% for school pupils with ASN, compared with South Ayrshire recording 11.6%.

With those with ASN coming disproportionately from lower income households and areas of deprivation, the coalition has also raised concerns that it makes it harder for the Scottish Government to close the educational attainment gap if some local authorities are not identifying those with ASN.

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.

On the back of these figures the coalition has repeated its call for urgent action to ensure that better quality and more reliable information on 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 care and support they need.

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 nearly 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, which is also key if it we are to close the educational attainment gap.

“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.”


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. Question S5W-01096: Richard Lochhead, Moray, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/06/2016

To ask the Scottish Government how many and what percentage of (a) pupils with additional support needs and (b) hours of support provision there have been in each of the last five years, also broken down by local authority.

Answered by John Swinney (25/07/2016): The following tables show how many and the percentage of pupils with additional support needs in each local authority for the last five years.

The information on hours of support provision is not held centrally.

Percentage of pupils with an Additional Support Need

All sectors20112012201320142015
Aberdeen City9.5%11.2%12.5%12.1%15.9%
Argyll and Bute15.7%16.0%17.0%18.0%19.4%
Dumfries and Galloway12.7%20.6%23.3%24.9%26.5%
Dundee City12.0%13.0%13.7%14.1%16.8%
East Ayrshire16.6%18.4%19.5%20.2%22.6%
East Dunbartonshire9.4%13.4%18.3%19.4%20.6%
East Lothian17.7%19.7%21.6%21.5%21.1%
East Renfrewshire10.5%16.2%15.8%17.2%17.6%
Edinburgh City16.5%18.9%20.4%20.8%23.6%
Eilean Siar27.4%29.1%28.1%31.4%33.0%
Glasgow City22.4%33.1%32.7%32.1%29.8%
North Ayrshire14.5%18.0%21.7%25.7%27.1%
North Lanarkshire6.6%7.1%7.4%7.6%8.0%
Orkney Islands9.6%18.9%21.8%23.3%26.3%
Perth and Kinross24.1%26.2%29.0%31.4%32.8%
Scottish Borders8.0%11.9%17.3%24.9%28.5%
Shetland Islands24.4%22.8%20.9%21.7%23.3%
South Ayrshire24.7%27.2%20.9%12.0%11.6%
South Lanarkshire6.8%7.6%14.6%19.0%21.0%
West Dunbartonshire35.2%36.2%36.9%37.0%35.3%
West Lothian10.5%11.3%12.3%19.0%22.8%
All local authorities14.6%17.5%19.5%20.7%22.5%
Grant aided20.8%25.5%26.5%25.1%25.1%

Current Status: Answered by John Swinney on 25/07/2016

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 range 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 deliver specialist care and education services to children and young people with Additional Support Needs (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 independent advocacy organisation that provides individual and collective advocacy to care experienced children and young people across Scotland, as well as Corporate Parenting training and information.  Who Cares? Scotland has been working with children and young people for over 35 years and uses this experience to campaign, lobby and speak out both with and on their behalf.
  • 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.

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


About the Author

The SCSC is an alliance of leading providers of education, care and support to vulnerable children, young people and their families.