Calls for increased resources for pupils with additional support needs
A leading children’s organisation has called for more resources to support pupils with additional learning needs after figures revealed a reduction in spending and the number of specialist teachers.
The figures show there has been a cut of £889 per pupil with additional support needs (ASN) since 2012.
Spending dropped from £4,276 per ASN pupil in 2012/13 to £3,387 in 2017/18.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition, made up of leading independent and charity organisations, said it was difficult to see how mainstreaming was “functioning properly” for all ASN pupils due to a fall in specialist support combined with the increase in pupils identified with conditions such as autism and mental health problems.
The figures, from the annual Scottish Government pupil census, indicate that between 2012 and 2018, the number of specialist teachers supporting those with ASN decreased from 3,840 to 3,437, representing a new low.
The figures also highlighted a fall in the number of specialist support staff in key categories such as behaviour support staff, where the number has dropped by 58 from 2012 (from 180 to 122) and by 43 in the number of educational psychologists (from 411 to 368).
Meanwhile, the number of pupils identified with ASN rose from 118,034 in 2012 to 199,065 in 2018 - with the total now representing 28.7 per cent of pupils
A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, which is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap. This is clearly challenging in an environment of austerity and evidence of cuts in spending per pupil with ASN and in the number of specialist teachers supporting this group and in key support staff categories.
“While we also support the presumption of mainstreaming, that all children and young people be educated in a mainstream educational environment unless exceptional circumstances apply, it is clearly difficult to see how this is functioning properly for all those with ASN given this fall in specialist support and increase in the number of those identified with conditions such as autism and mental health problems.
“The Scottish Government and local authorities need to work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN, who represent some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.”
But the Scottish Government points to the fact there was an overall increase in non-teaching staff in schools supporting ASN pupils.
Education Secretary John Swinney said: “All children and young people should get the support they need to reach their full potential.
“While all teachers work with pupils with additional support needs, I welcome the overall increase in specialist staff which shows education authorities are continuing to invest in having the right support, in the right place, to meet young peoples’ needs.
“Today’s statistics show that the number of non-teaching staff in schools who have a role in supporting pupils with additional support needs, including pupil support assistants, home-school link workers, behaviour support staff, educational psychologists and school nurses, has risen by 12 per cent since 2012.”