Thousands of Scotland’s children with ASN may be missing out as figures don't add up for local authorities

Published on April 2, 2015
  • New report shows more than doubling of those with ASN between 2010 and 2014
  • Major disparities between Councils for those with ASN e.g.:
    • Glasgow – 32% v North Lanarkshire – 8%
    • East Dunbartonshire - 19% v West Dunbartonshire - 37%.
    • Aberdeen - 12% v Aberdeenshire – 33%

 Thousands of Scottish children with Additional Support Needs (ASN) may not be getting the support they are entitled to according to a coalition of leading third and independent sector children’s services providers

The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) (see Notes to Editors for members), a coalition of organisations dealing with those with learning difficulties and complex needs as well as those with care experience, has raised concerns following the publication of a Scottish Government report to the Scottish Parliament on the Implementation of The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended), 2nd April. 

This indicates major disparities across local authority areas when it comes to identifying pupils with ASN, raising concerns that many children may not be getting the full support they are entitled to on the back of these widely varying figures.

It has called for urgent action to ensure that better quality and more reliable information in identifying and recording those with ASN – such as those with dyslexia, autism and are in care - 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 Scottish schools indicates that between 2010 and 2014 there has been a more than doubling in the school population of those with ASN, from 69,587 to 140,524, or 10% to 20.8% of the pupil population.

The Scottish Government report indicates wide disparities in those pupils with ASN (see Notes to Editors). For example, 8% of those in schools in North Lanarkshire have ASN compared with 32% in Glasgow (20.8% for all schools). East Dunbartonshire records figures of 19% for pupils with ASN, compared with West Dunbartonshire recording 37%.

Full table below:

With Additional Support Needs Percentage
Aberdeen City267112%
Argyll & Bute1,90418%
Dumfries & Galloway4,68725%
Dundee City 2,48714%
East Ayrshire 3,21620%
East Dunbartonshire 3,14719%
East Lothian 2,94521%
East Renfrewshire 2,82117%
Edinburgh City 9,75421%
Eilean Siar 1,05631%
Glasgow City 21,00432%
Highland 7,43924%
Inverclyde 2,38724%
Midlothian 2,23619%
Moray 2,74723%
North Ayrshire 4,67526%
North Lanarkshire 3,7468%
Orkney Islands 62023%
Perth & Kinross  5,56531%
Scottish Borders 3,62225%
 Shetland Islands  70022%
South Ayrshire  1,67612%
South Lanarkshire  8,21119%
Stirling 3,00724%
West Dunbartonshire 4,57437%
West Lothian 5,00319%

These disparities are due to local authority inconsistencies in gathering information on and identifying and recording those with ASN.  These inconsistencies, the coalition believes, is leading to varied support for those with ASN as identifications vary across local authorities and many children and young people 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 across the 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 increasingly frustrating that we simply cannot get precise figures on the number children with ASN and this raises concerns as to whether some local authorities are fulfilling their statutory requirements. It is quite remarkable that we can ascertain the precise number of wild salmon caught and wild bird population, but we cannot establish a reliable figure for those with ASN, allowing us to see if there is an increase or decrease in this figure over forthcoming years.

“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.” 


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

  1. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) is a policy-focused collaboration between leading independent and third sector service providers. These providers have come together to work with political and other key stakeholders, campaigning to improve the delivery of children and young people’s services. SCSC members deliver specialist care and education services for children and young people with complex needs, such as learning difficulties and learning disabilities, as well as direct help and support for them and their families. They also provide independent advocacy, advice and representation for children and young people with care experience.
  1. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  1. Further information about the SCSC can be found at


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