AN alliance of independent and third sector organisations has called for greater resourcing to support children and young people with additional support needs (ASN), such as autism, dyslexia and mental health problems.
The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC) has made the call as new figures contained in a parliamentary answer revealed that spend per pupil with ASN has slumped dramatically, while the number of specialist teachers supporting them has dropped to a new low and the number of pupils with ASN has escalated dramatically.
The figures highlight that the average spend per pupil on additional support for learning by local authorities in Scotland (primary, secondary and special education) has fallen from £4276 in 2012 to £3224 last year (in cash terms). This amounts to an overall cut in spending of £1052 per pupil, representing a 24.6% drop.
Spend per pupil ranges from £1737 in Edinburgh to £5849 in Shetland, pointing to a “postcode lottery” in spend across local authorities.
This fall is against the backdrop of an 82.9% increase since 2012 in the number of pupils identified with ASN, from 118,011 to 215,897. Those with ASN currently represent just under a third of all pupils (30.9%).
Between 2012 and last year, the number of full-time equivalent ASN teachers (publicly funded primary, secondary, special and centrally employed) has fallen from 3389 to 2836, a decrease of 553 teachers, representing a cut of 16.3% and an all-time low.
Against the background of Covid-19 and its disproportionate impact on those with ASN, the SCSC has called for greater resourcing from both the Scottish Government and local authorities to ensure that those with ASN in Scotland’s schools receive the care and support they need.
A spokesperson for the SCSC said: “It is vital that those with ASN get the care and support they need, especially during and as we come out of the current Covid-19 crisis.
“This is also key if we are to genuinely close the educational attainment gap.
“It is vital that the Scottish Government and local authorities work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN.”“It is vital that the Scottish Government and local authorities work together to provide the necessary resourcing to address the needs of those children and young people with ASN.”