Responding to the Education and Skills Committee report of the Scottish Parliament on additional support needs, Sophie Pilgrim, Director of Kindred Scotland, a member of the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, an alliance of leading independent and third sector service providers for children and young people, commented:
“We are delighted to have contributed to and note the findings of this report, which highlights the major challenges faced by those children and young people with additional support needs (ASN).
“The report found that a lack of staff and coordinated support meant that many children are struggling to achieve their full potential within the Scottish school system, something we as an organisation have been campaigning on for some time.
“While we are fully in support of a presumption of mainstreaming, there has been a 44 per cent rise in the number of pupils with ASN since 2012, standing at one in four pupils in 2016. However, the local authority spend per pupil on those with ASN has been cut by more than £450 (11 per cent) over the same period, impacting on the number of ASN teachers and specialist support staff.1
“We have continually raised concerns that given these cuts many of these vulnerable children and young people are not be being fully included, are getting the care and support they need in the classroom, with an impact not only on them, but on their peers and teachers.
“With those with ASN more likely to come from low income backgrounds and areas of deprivation, this clearly has an impact on the Scottish Government’s desire to close the educational attainment gap.
“We therefore welcome the committee’s recommendation that the Scottish Government undertake a financial review as a basis to start discussions with local authorities on future funding, and that there is a Government review to look at the experiences of those with additional support needs to find out how widespread concerns raised by parents are.
“This is a wake-up call for the Scottish Government and local authorities. There is a crisis in the education system for those with ASN and unless we act now and invest in their education we are going to be left with a ‘lost generation’ of vulnerable children and young people.”