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|
|Argyll & Bute||1,904||18%|
|Dumfries & Galloway||4,687||25%|
|Perth & Kinross||5,565||31%|
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