Provision for additional support needs in schools ‘inadequate’ warns committee
Classwork - credit Dominic Lipinski / PA
Children with additional support needs are not getting the level of support they need or are entitled to in many areas of Scotland, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee.
The group of MSPs has urged the Scottish Government to conduct a financial review of the provision.
The average spend in Scotland per pupil has been cut from £4,276 in 2012/13 to £3,817 in 2015/16.
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This is despite a growing number of children being identified with additional support needs and a statutory requirement on councils to provide it.
In the report the Education and Skills Committee said a lack of staff and coordinated support meant many children are struggling to achieve within the Scottish school system.
Furthermore, parents often have to fight for the rights of their children “every step of the way” in order to get additional support for them in schools, something they are less likely to do in areas of deprivation.
The committee’s convener James Dornan said: “The Committee was overwhelmed with the response it got from parents, teachers and those who live and work with children with additional support needs.
“There is still widespread support for the policy of inclusion and we also heard about the positive difference support can make to children.
“But we also heard about what can happen when there is not the staff and support to help those most in need. For example there is a very real concern that some children feel more excluded in a mainstream school setting than they may have done in a special school.”
Committee member Ross Greer MSP said the situation was a result of “years of staff cuts”, particularly in teachers with specialist training.
“I've been pushing the government on this issue for months now and after the damning evidence the education committee has received, they need to get on top of it immediately,” he said.
“These cuts and inadequate training doesn’t just affect those with ASN, they affect every child in the class as overworked teachers, without the knowledge they need, simply cannot deliver the education our young people deserve.”
Sophie Pilgrim, director of Kindred Scotland, a charity which provides support to families, welcomed the report and said it should be a “wake up call” for government and councils.
“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,” she said.